Situated at the north of the island of Maui, this spot is particularly well adapted to beginners. The water is not deep (3 to 8 feet), visibility is excellent, and the surface of the water is generally calm. It is also an ideal place to take close-up photos of a large number of fish, but the seabed is limited to rocky coastal benches with little coral.

Reef triggerfish at Napili Bay

How to get there?

You reach Napili Bay from Napili Kai Beach Resort, where a parking lot is available to visitors (often full, so visitors park along the roads) with free access to the beach. From Kahului or Lahaina, take the road north towards Kapalua. Leave the main road and head for the beaches (Kapalua beach) where Napili Kai Beach Resort is then well signposted. Once you have parked, you continue on foot to the beach about 100 yards away, passing through a hotel complex.

Napili Bay Maui snorkeling map

Water entrance

The area to explore is at the north of the beach, along the rocky point enclosing the bay. You should be able to see the rocks emerging from the surface of the water less than 30 yards from the beach. This is the most interesting area. Enter the water opposite this point.

Exploration

When you leave the beach and move along the coast, you will first cross sandy seabeds before arriving at the rocky areas (↕3-7ft/1-2m).

Snorkeling Napili Bay

Your visit will be limited to swimming over the rocky coastal benches, on which only a little coral has taken up residence. Many fish swim in this area, pushed to and fro by the waves. Longnose butterflyfish and several other varieties of butterflyfish, as well as the highly colorful fantail filefish are always ready to have their photo taken, which is made easier by the clarity and luminosity of the water. Different varieties of sea urchin (including the bright red pencil urchin) also inhabit the depths.

Yellow longnose butterflyfish at Napili Bay, Maui

Beginners will enjoy the spot, since it is well protected from the waves and fairly shallow.

Restaurants & accommodation

There are several restaurants near the beach, but don’t expect to enjoy a discount meal at this spot. Water is available nearby. Don’t hesitate to take your own picnic.

Species you may spot while snorkeling Napili Bay
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Millet butterflyfish Chaetodon miliaris  
Pebbled butterflyfish Chaetodon multicinctus  
Fourspot butterflyfish Chaetodon quadrimaculatus  
Moorish idol Zanclus cornutus  
Yellow longnose butterflyfish Forcipiger flavissimus  
Lagoon triggerfish Rhinecanthus aculeatus  
Reef triggerfish Rhinecanthus rectangulus  
Fantail filefish Pervagor spilosoma  
Barred filefish Cantherhines dumerilii  
Bluefin trevally Caranx melampygus  
Saddle wrasse Thalassoma duperrey  
Manybar goatfish Parupeneus multifasciatus  
Red pencil urchin Heterocentrotus mamillatus  
Double spined urchin Echinothrix calamaris  
Spider-eye puffer Canthigaster amboinensis  

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth8ft/2.5m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.