Let’s take a moment and be frank, homeschool for most – not fun, have you seen the memes? We laugh because most of them are hilariously close to the truth. Working from home with kids, or the cat that won’t quit sitting on your computer keyboard? Some people are gaining weight, some are losing weight, but at some point in time it’s easy to speculate that most of us have had moments where we have felt like we are gaining stress and losing our minds. The news, the newsfeeds, the masks, the politics, Covid-19 – is there any end in sight? Is there any happy to be found? Yes! Yes, there is! We just have to tap into an attitude of gratitude and count our blessings. In this unprecedented time we have the opportunity to set time aside and enjoy the little things. It’s the perfect time to throw expectations of ‘the old way’ out the window and learn to go with the flow a little more. I woke up this morning with the intent to write this article at 7am, it is now 7pm and I’m not at all sorry that I spent the day with building blocks, monster trucks, bubbles, and books with my 2 year old grandson. Granted, many of you have pressing matters that can’t wait all day; but when you can – take a break! If you are feeling stressed step back and re-evaluate your mindset, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself to choose happy. Everyday find time to do something just for you that makes you happy. A long soak, yoga or a hard core workout, work on writing that novel that’s been in your head for years, play guitar or learn an instrument, stream your favorite guilty pleasure show like “America’s Got Talent” or “Survivor”, do some gardening, or just sit with a hot cup of coffee and do nothing. And if you are lucky enough to be stuck in paradise, like we are here on Maui where COVID-19 is currently somewhat under control, don’t forget to get out and support your local businesses and have fun! Many restaurants and activities on Maui offer generous Kama Aina discounts in these challenging times. Go out fishing, parasailing, or let a private boat charter whisk you away! Enjoy this special time! As everyrthing else, it won’t stay here forever…
Maui is for lovers: lovers of spas and massages, lovers of hiking thru rain forest and waterfalls on the Road to Hana, lovers of snorkeling with sea turtles and most breathtaking sunsets in the world. If you are looking for something more, wishing Google would find you something a little different than the norm, a tad more lavish, a lot more private, we hope this blog will help you find what you are looking for.
Exclusive Accommodations on Maui
When you want to feel at home the moment you walk in the door of your private villa, we recommend you book your stay with Molly McMillen at Luxury Retreats. A concierge above the cut, Molly delivers curated properties equipped with high-end amenities alongside an exquisite itinerary to fill your Maui days with luxe local experiences from rainforests and waterfalls to world class spas and golf courses. Contact Molly to begin planning your unforgettable stay on Maui: email@example.com
For the ultimate upcountry Maui experience imagine this: Your limo picks you up from your hotel and whisks you to the Kahului Heliport. You soar over the North side of Haleakala Mountain to Hana Town and view East Maui Waterfalls. Your flight lands at the secluded Baldwin Family’s cabins tucked up at 2000 feet on the slopes of Haleakala. Step out of the helicopter to be greeted with coffee and pastries and to be met by your own personal Piiholo Ranch Wrangler. Spend 2 hours exploring the lush green pastures and fragrant eucalyptus forests as you ride horseback on the 800-acre Piiholo Ranch; the ocean and mountain views are nothing short of spectacular.
Your Own Private Photographer
If you could freeze time in a capsule so you would be able to remember his hand brushing your hair off your cheek, or slipping and falling in mud and laughing until your side hurts, or that magic moment when the last light caught your champagne flute as you toasted sunset, would you? One of the most raw things you can do is to trust a shadow to follow you to capture your moments in real-time: no posing, perfect imperfections, timelessness. Let Stephanie Betsillbe your private photographer. With an inspired eye and creative spirit, she will turn the pages of your story into works of art that you can re-visit time and time again.
Oh, The Places We Go for Wine
Did you ever think you would have to go to jail to get the best wine? What if we told you the Old Jail House would be one of the most beautiful, tucked away little treasures you would find on the island of Maui? The roughhewn stone walls are thick set with chinking and lush foliage giving it an air that transports your mind to an era gone by. But the romance of the little gem has only just begun on the exterior.
Inside you find a jaw-dropping, warm and cozy setting under a vaulted wooden ceiling; the perfect pairing for your private party wine tasting. Set in foothills of Haleakala, in Ulupalakua, Maui Wine is a ‘don’t miss’. The wine is the climax; however, the grounds are so charming it is a total package all the way around. Bring your bridal party here and raise a glass to the mysteries of the past as you send up a toast to your future.
A Very Exclusive Peek into the Past
Discover The King’s Gardens where you can experience a taste of the lush and beautiful rainforest of Hana without the long drive. The exclusive grounds are a well-kept Royal Hawaiian secret. Only select few have the honor and privilege to walk these private paths of past King’s with a personal guide who shares cultural and natural knowledge of the estate. Visit the private waterfall, and learn about their young cacao, and chocolate tours too. Be a part of the chocolate making process, or just be a taster! Home to very rare and endangered species and Hawaiian artifacts, The King’s Gardens will only send directions disclosing their location to you after your booking is secured and verified. Don’t miss out on this magical and mystical place to immerse yourself deep within Hawaii.
When money is no object and your only limits are how far your imagination takes you, we hope the things you found in this blog will literally make you feel like your rainbow met with a pot of gold. We would feel remiss, however, not to offer up one last thing. For you lovers of the water, the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, snorkeling, cruising, and so much more: we have to invite you to come see who we are, we promise you won’t be disappointed! www.seamonkeymaui.com
Welcome to a glimpse of Maui! Home to more sub-cultures than any of the other Hawaiian Islands, our Valley Isle has a little bit of everything. Culture and history, marine life, rainforests, water sports, and mouth-watering foods are but a small slice of our paradise without even mentioning our beaches and sunsets. Here are 10 of our top favorite things to do here on Maui, be sure to visit https://www.your-rv-lifestyle.com/best-things-to-do-in-hawaii/ for a longer list of Hawaii fun! Also, let TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Search be your best friends while planning your Hawaiian vacation, it is hard to go wrong when you are getting results and opinions from people just like yourselves who have been here, done that. However you choose to spend your time you will be glad you chose to spend it on Maui. Maui No Ka Oi!
#1 Maui Ocean Center
Fun for all ages, but especially the small ones who aren’t quite ready for snorkeling. At the Maui Ocean Center you have the perfect opportunity to see Hawaii’s vast array of marine life, many of which can be seen nowhere else in the world. Sharks, sea turtles, eels, fish and so much more. Assorted presentations take place throughout the day to teach about Hawaii’s ocean dwellers from the shallow reef to the open sea. Visit the Humpbacks of Hawai’i Exhibit & 3D Sphere, and through the latest cutting edge visual and audio technology observe Maui’s Humpback Whales up close and personal in their habitat of the depths. This is one of the most exciting things you can do on Maui! www.mauioceancenter.com
#2 Polynesian Luau’s
Maui has a vast array of historical luau’s filled with storytelling of Polynesian culture. Through the grace and beauty of the hula, the war-cry, strength and might of the haka, fire spinning, authentic weaponry, and costumes beautifully crafted from the gifts of the earth; you are immediately transported into the depths and integrity of the Spirit of the Islands. Your meal will include succulent native cuisine such as poi, taro, lau lau, I’a. You will find an abundance of venues to choose from: Feast of Mokapu, Old Lahaina Luau, Wailele Luau, Drums of the Pacific and so many more. Every guest to our beautiful island should experience a luau at least once in their lifetime. Be sure to find the one that you feel you can’t miss and book your reservation far in advance.
#3 Road to Hana
Ready… Set… coffee, cooler, swimsuit, camera – Go! Before you begin plan to set the entire day aside so that you can relax and enjoy this winding scenic highway on island time. No hurries, no worries. We recommend downloading the Gypsy Guide App. Let the narrator do the work for you as you make your way through the rainforest with cliffside jaw dropping coastal views. Be sure to check out the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls with a 400’ drop, 7 Sacred Pools, Ke’anae Peninsula, Puohokamoa Falls, Wainapanapa Beach, and so much more. Make sure you top it off on a blanket to view the starry night sky; it is unlike anywhere else on the island. For more information and great tips for your Road to Hana adventure – check out this article.
#4 Sport Fishing
Fish on! Even the thought of hearing those words gets the blood pumping and adrenaline rushing with excitement and there is no cure except to get out there and do it. Lahaina Harbor is full of seasoned fishermen with a deep-seated passion for the sport. They are professional and they know what they are doing. You know the drill, it is called fishing not catching for a reason, but they work very hard to help give you the time of your life. Whether deep sea trolling or bottom fishing in more shallow waters, they do their darndest to help you reel ‘em in, but it is the ocean and there is no guarantee. You might come in with a big haul and you might come in skunked, it happens to the best of the best. Start Me Up Sport Fishing, Die Hard Sport Fishing, Finest Kind, all come highly recommended. Embrace Start Me Up’s motto: Stop wishin’ and go fishin’!
If a good round of golf is your favorite pastime and way to relax, Maui is the ultimate destination. Home some of the most beautiful and best golf courses in the world. The rolling greens set amidst serene mountain and costal views is nothing short of spectacular. All the while hosting designs by golf legends including Arnold Palmer. The Plantation Course at Kapalua Bay is the annual home to PGA TOUR’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions. In South Maui? Try one of the three 18-hole courses at Gold Course at Wailea Golf Club for an experience spread over 7,000 yards of sheer challenge and beauty.
Hawaii’s blue waters are home to some of the most colorful tropical fish in the world, some of which cannot be found anywhere else. Whether you choose to snorkel from shore or on a private boat charter for the day you can search for and often find the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles cruising about or munching on coral. The lava point formation at the north end of Charlie Young Beach Park is almost always a sure bet for sea turtles and has a variety of fish for up close easy viewing. For added fun check out a Maui Reef Creatures Guide on Google or pick one up at a local surf shop so you can look up all of the awesome fish you saw. Hopefully you have a lucky visit from the Hawaii State Fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa! More fun snorkel destinations include Mala, Olowalu, LaPerouse Bay, Honolua Bay, Baldwin Beach, Black Rock, Kahekili Beach Park, and so many more there are too many to name!
#7 Ono Grindz / Good Eats!
There are so many great places to eat on Maui it is hard to pack them all in on one vacation. Folks often revisit the island with a list of food they have been craving since their last visit! Unforgettable sunsets and fine dining are romantic to be sure, but some of the very best eating can also be found at the small local joints and food trucks. Whatever your palate is a shakedown of some of the absolute best don’t miss spots: 808 Grindz Café, Geste Shrimp Truck, Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill, Poi by the Pound, The Kula Bistro, Eskimo Candy Seafood Market & Deli, Maui Prime for a take-out steamer bucket, Sale Pepe, Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shoppe, Hoi Hoi Hawaiian Bakery, Grandma’s Coffee House, Aloha Mixed Plate, Sam Sato’s, Ono Taco Truck, Da Kitchen, Tin Roof, The Mill House, Okazuya, Mama’s Fish House, Star Noodle, Ohana Seafood, Mala, Frieda’s, and The Plantation House. Happy eating!
#8 Learn to Surf & Stand Up Paddle Board
Blending knowledge of Hawaiian culture by those born and raised here in the islands, along with their surfing and paddle boarding skills has brought great recognition to Maui Surf and Cultural Adventures. Located in Lahaina and run by some of the most genuinely friendly people you will meet on Maui. Their surf instruction is foundationally built on The Spirit of Aloha. Eager to share their rich experience in and on the water, they are gentle guides with giant enthusiasm. The island of Maui is teeming with many great surf school opportunities, but if you want to take home a piece of Maui in your soul, let Maui Surf and Cultural Adventures teach you that entering the sea is a far greater experience than you ever imagined. www.mauisurfandculture.com 808-281-8015.
#9 Helicopter Tour
The volcanic mountains that form the Hawaiian Islands are majestic and rugged. Many areas are too dangerous and cannot be accessed. Thankfully Helicopter tours are able to whisk you up over places so beautiful, so lush, so incredible that beholding the sights literally just takes your breath away. Hidden gems, waterfalls, valleys, Pu’u Kukui, coastlines along sheer cliffs, inside the caldera of Mount Haleakala volcano, barren fields of lava, farms and ranches, multi colored sand beaches, boats dotting the blue ocean, the Road to Hana, all seen from above. Helicopter pilots are vetted with many years of experience so you can feel safe as you explore like a bird. Visit http://bluehawaiian.com/maui to secure your flight!
#10 Iao Valley
If I had to describe Iao Valley in one word it would be reverence, a feeling more than tangibility. There is a presence about this stream-cut rainforest valley that for many can be felt like a drumbeat; you can’t touch it, but it is there. It is a spiritual place for the local, born and raised Hawaiians. It was a battleground where blood and bodies laid so deeply, they formed a dam in the valley’s stream as King Kamehameha fought to win sovereign reign over the nation of the Hawaiian Islands. It is the sacred resting place for their ancient kings of old. So full of history and mystery, this is a landmark you do not want to miss.
The irony isn’t lost in that while looking for the Top 10 Most Fun things To Do on Maui, you will also find that Maui itself has been ranked in the Top 10 places to visit in the U.S. and also in the world! Incredible! The best of the best! Now that my friend, is what dreams are made of. Find your Maui destination bragging rights here: Maui Ranked Among the Best in the US and World Article.
You may wonder what types of marine life and animals you might see on your upcoming Hawaiian boat excursion. Well, we are here to tell you marine life in Hawaii is as abundant as it is unpredictable! Every day is different on the ocean, which makes it very special and magical. We often see Hawaiian green sea turtles, lots of colorful tropical coral and fish, and in season – majestic humpback whales! Our favorite ones of all are the dolphins! Main reason for that is because, unlike most of the marine life that does not want to have much to do with us, dolphins are quite the opposite. They are very social with people and they are famous for their incredible maneuver of bow riding or surfing the wave created by the boats. It is truly amazing to watch the precision of their movement as they easily navigate around the bow of the boat at various speeds and angles. Watch this video to see Hawaiian Spinner dolphins bow riding the Sea Monkey wave.
Types of Dolphins in Hawaii
Hawaii has 3 different types of dolphins: Bottlenose, Spotted, and Spinner dolphins. These dolphins have many similar characteristics and are often confused. Here is a quick way to tell them apart:
Intelligent and high up on oceanic food chain Bottlenose dolphins are the largest of the 3. Adult bottlenose dolphins have a length ranging from 10 to 14 feet long and weight 330 to 440 pounds! They are known to travel further off shore and are typically seen in smaller groups, usually less than 10 in a pod. If you are wondering just how intelligent these creatures are – movie Dolphin Tale was based on real life events inspired by an amazing survival of a Bottlenose dolphin named “Winter”. This inspirational story has impacted many lives; it demonstrates just how amazing and human-like these animals are.
Unlike Bottlenose dolphins, Spotted and Spinner dolphins are much smaller in size (5-6 feet) and are generally known for travelling in larger pods, up to several hundred strong! Spotted dolphins main distinctive characteristic is their white-tipped beak and, as their name suggests, spotted color pattern on the body.
Spinner dolphins are most frequently seen, as they like to rest in shallow bay areas during the day and hunt at night. They are known for their incredible acrobatic spins in the air (up to 7 times) as they breach out of the water. It is debatable why they do it. Theories range from them trying to rid of parasites to just leaping for joy. We don’t know exactly why they do it, but if you are ever lucky to see it – just enjoy the show! One of our recent charters was lucky enough not only to witness a show of a lifetime but get kissed by a spinner dolphin! Watch below to see those wonderful playful creatures approach this family in the most personal way!
Can you swim with dolphins?
Absolutely not! As a general rule of a thumb wild life should always be left alone. There are a variety of ways in which human interaction can hurt dolphins. For example, in case with Spinner dolphins, it can disrupt their natural sleeping cycle. Believe it or not, they are actually sleeping while on the move with one eye open and half of their brain functioning. Another side of their brain is shut down, which allows them to rest. Spinner dolphins are nocturnal; so they need to be awake and alert at night when catching food and keeping away from predators. Swimming with them during the day could jeopardize that rest and their wellbeing.
Life span and reproduction
Average life span of a Hawaiian dolphin is 20-40 years, with spinner being the shortest of the 3. Their sexual maturity ranges between ages 5-14, depending on the breed. Dolphins are known for their human-like behavior when it comes to reproduction as well. Bottlenose dolphins are born often with assistance of a “mid-wife” in shallow water, and mothers nurse their calves for years.
What are the best places to see dolphins in Hawaii?
We often see spinner dolphins just outside of the Historic Lahaina Harbor; also near Island of Lanai’, off Ka’anapali Beach, and deeper in the channels. It is never the same day out in the ocean and marine life can be unpredictable. Generally, the more time you spend on the water the more you get to see; and Sea Monkey has been fortunate enough to see dolphins often on many of our trips. Check out our reservation page to get more information on what we offer. Moments of witnessing wild life in its natural environment can be absolutely incredible. Always remember to be respectful and keep your distance. And if you are lucky enough to be approached by the dolphins – sit and enjoy the show! You never know you may be lucky enough to be kissed by one of them!
There are many options for enjoying the beautiful ocean surrounding our island including heading out on a charter boat to snorkel, watch for whales, or see the sunset. These are the top 10 charter boats on Maui. Aloha.
Top Charter Boats on Maui
SEA MONKEY PRIVATE CHARTERS
Luxury at it’s finest and the most competitive private yacht prices on Maui. Sea Monkey Private Charters is perfect for everyone, whether family fun or honeymoon romance you will not find a better day cruiser yacht to come aboard. Comfortable leather seating in the cockpit under a bimini shade; cushioned reclining seats on the bow for sun, fun, and enjoying the speed of the boat; fresh warm water outdoor shower; a beautiful restroom down below, and so much more! Sea Monkey will take you sightseeing while cruising; whale watching the magnificent Humpback Whales in season; snorkeling in places where you have the water all to yourself; provide all of your gear and feed you well with first class service by Captain and First Mate, all in the lap of luxury on the beautiful blue Hawaiian waters. Go to our tab on this website labeled Book Now or call us at (808) 491-9141 for personal assistance to secure your charter.
JAYHAWK YACHT CHARTERS
If luxury combined with deep-sea fishing or scuba diving is on your bucket list, Jayhawk Yacht Charters is a perfect fit for you. You can even book a stand-up paddle excursion. This is no ordinary fishing vessel, it features beautifully appointed staterooms and is equipped to whisk you away on overnight charters with your own personal chef. Among their amenities are: shimano fishing gear, fish finder technology, GPS, and chart plotters. If you really desire to go all in on the luxury experience, Jayhawk offers an upgrade to have a masseuse onboard to work out those muscles you exerted bringing in your catch! Visit them now at www.jayhawkmaui.com or call (866)326-0636.
Where else on Maui can you find a luxury powerboat with a lil ‘mini me’ tender tucked inside itself to get you into hidden coves or the shallows for closer views? Aboard Satisfaction you can witness first hand the beauty and majesty of Maui, Lana’i and Molokai on overnight charters. Extreme opulence with luxurious amenities coupled with Penn International Rods & Reels, state of the art equipment, sumptuous dining and much more are all part and parcel for the most discerning and affluent guests visiting Maui. See everything Satisfaction has to offer at www.mauiyachtcharters.com or call (808)866-0338.
ALII NUI SAILING CHARTERS
Alii Nui means highest royalty in Hawaiian, this vessel is royal indeed – the crown jewel of all sailing catamarans found on Maui. Stretching low and wide she is truly an impressive way to spend your day on the water providing luxury in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. You can snorkel, scuba dive, snuba, or more simply float with water noodles or boogie boards if you just want to relax in the water. Alii Nui berths in Maalaea Harbor and travels regularly to Molokini Crater, a highly sought after snorkel destination where you can see species of fish not found anywhere else in the ocean. If romance is on your agenda and you are not in the market for a private charter, Alii Nui’s Sunset Sail and Royal Feast are extraordinary. Special event sails and packages offer you an opportunity to go dancing, arrange for a private dinner, or even get married! Visit www.aliinuimaui.com to see which excursion they have to offer is right for you or call (808)875-0333.
Set sail on Hawaii’s most outfitted private monohull yacht. Experience performance sailing, personalized snorkel trips, whale watching, or liveaboard inter-island cruises aboard Kainani. Depart from world famous Ka’anapali Beach, sit back, relax, and discover true Hawaii from the sea. Amidst the beautifully appointed amenities you will find a spacious interior featuring 3 private cabins, 2 marine heads (bathrooms), a comfortable saloon, and a full galley – there is even an outdoor grill on deck. For fun they provide snorkel gear, fishing gear, floatation noodles, deck chairs, a bodyboard, and a 2-person kayak. In the Spirit of Aloha, the Captain and Crew are always eager to share what they know about the Hawaiian culture, legends of old, and reasons behind the names of the places, giving you a truly personal Hawaiian experience. For more information visit www.kainanisails.com or call (808)495-1001.
ATLANTIS SUBMARINES MAUI
Dive 100 feet and more below the surface aboard a real submarine, Atlantis Submarines Maui, and witness first hand Hawaii’s underwater paradise. Marvel at the sight of a replicated sunken ship, natural coral reef gardens filled with colorful fish, sharks, sting rays and more all while enjoying the air-conditioned comfort and safety of the vessel. Atlantis Submarines are the world’s most technologically advanced passenger vessels and host panoramic windows and high ceilings. Featured in National Geographic television specials and owned and operated in world-wide locations around the globe, find all you need to know about Atlantis Submarines at www.atlantisadventures.com or call (800)381-0237.
ULTIMATE WHALE WATCH & SNORKEL
Since 1982, Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel has been dedicated to sharing their knowledge and experience of Maui’s ocean through whale watching, snorkeling, and supporting education and research. Their small group rafting vessels are fast, fun, safe, and offer up-close and personal opportunities to view and photograph Maui’s finest and most spectacular marine life: whales, dolphins, turtles, tropical fish and more! In the true Spirit of Aloha, Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel donates their vessels, time, and resources to researchers that are working to understand Maui’s marine environment and in turn protect and advocate for it. Their goal is to encourage eco-friendly decisions and appreciation of the Hawaii paradise we are a part of. Book privately or make new friends as you join a shared boat – either way, they guarantee a whale of a time (in season of course)! Call (808)667-5678 or visit them at www.ultimatewhalewatch.com/.
PRIDE OF MAUI
Berthed in central Maui’s Ma’alaea harbor, Pride of Maui is a 65-foot maxi-powered Catamaran boasting 3000 sq ft. of deck space (specifically built for Hawaiian waters by professional boat builders in New Orleans). The Company purposely leaves a percentage of the boat empty in order to uphold the quality and service of their international reputation. The Pride of Maui is a well respected large yacht, famous for its stability and comfort. Its size, seating, and layout permit unobstructed panoramic viewing and the convenience to comfortable walk around its spacious decks. Offering whale watching, SNUBA, SCUBA, snorkeling world-class destinations including the famous Molokini Crater, underwater video, and an array of special events. Plan your day of fun and make memories aboard Pride of Maui by visiting their website at www.prideofmaui.com/ or call them at (855)666-3893.
With a fleet of beautiful, state of the art vessels, Sail Trilogy offers an extensive selection of activities. You can sail, snorkel, SNUBA, romance and dine, get married, watch dolphins play, and in season experience the world famous Humpback whales. Departing out of Lahaina harbor or off of the beach in Ka’anapali, with Trilogy you can choose your destination package and explore Molokini crater, Maui’s neighboring island of Lana’i, watch fireworks, or join the Captains Dinner Sail and experience a private restaurant feel, fine dining with panoramic views aboard this luxury sailing catamaran. Tables are set for two to enjoy a four-course dinner service with premium open bar. Book privately or go with a shared group, either way Trilogy will not disappoint – visit their website and see why for yourself as you read their story… they don’t just say Aloha – they LIVE Aloha. www.sailtrilogy.com/ Phone:(888)225-MAUI
Departing from Lahaina, enjoy a memorable evening of dining and live music aboard Maui’s largest and most stable 120-foot vessel, the Maui Princess. View the stars, as they come out over the ocean, from their all premium top-deck seating. You will enjoy different musicians nightly, and tableside dinner service provided by their excellent wait staff. Well known to have the most delicious menu and prepared fresh daily by their own chef, the food is really quite scrumptious. After dinner, you can dance, or, relax at your table, and enjoy the rest of your evening cruise along the scenic Maui coastline. Visit www.hawaiioceanproject.com to view the menu selection and book your evening on the sea or call (808)667-6165 to book direct.
In Maui nature is everywhere, abundant and amazing. Lucky to live in Hawaii, we are surrounded, literally, by an underwater world that is full of wonder and magnificent creatures. Not even in our wildest imaginations can we dream of all that exists out there in the deep blue, but we can share with you some fun things we do know about a few of our neighbors who dwell ‘unda da sea’.
Green Sea Turtles (Hawaiian Name – Honu)
Gentle giants of the sea, pro surfers of the waves, and protectors of the coral reefs – Hawaii’s honu cruise in graceful motion to the beat of no ones drum but their own. If only they could throw the shaka as they drift by on island time, it would seem only fitting. They feed on algae (helping to keep our coral clean and healthy), and sea grass which turns their fat layer green; it is that and not the color of their shell that gives them their name.
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is the only indigenous reptile found in Hawaii, dating back as many as 150 million years. It is a symbol of good luck, by ancient Hawaiians in the form of a guardian spirit (Aumakua), believed to be departed loved ones that continue to look over and protect their lineage. Because they are revered as Aumakua, combined with that they are born on land and often come to rest on sandy beaches; even though they spend most of their lives in the ocean, they are considered by ancient Hawaiians to form a revered triangular link of man, land, and sea. If you search them out you will find the Honu pattern is heavily used in ancient petro glyphs as well as in modern graphic form around the islands.
Sea Monkey Honu fun fact: there is a giant green sea turtle that frequently cruises one of our snorkel destinations and his name is Stage Coach because he is so big! We can never promise he will show up, but when he does – wow!
Humpback Whales (Hawaiian name: Kohola)
Of all the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Hawaiian islands each year, there is none more eagerly anticipated or welcomed back than the Humpback Whales! Whale season in Hawaii is officially from December through April. February is the month known to the local folk as ‘whale soup’.
Humpback Whales travel to the warm tropical waters in the safe basins to birth their offspring. They come from Alaska, Mexico, and Russia; traveling approximately 39 days of non-stop swimming around 3,200 miles to get here. They can actually turn off half of their brain at a time to rest it for the long journey.
Once here, there is great excitement! Thrilling breeches as they hurl themselves far up into the air only to come crashing down in a giant splash – giant tail fins slapping the water with a resounding crack – waving Aloha with their school bus-sized arm fin, the pectoral – singing – courting – giving birth – nurturing – competition pods of males fighting over a female (yes, the whales – but not unlike the sailors in the old local watering holes, too!).
One of the most amazing things to experience is hearing the whale song underwater while snorkeling, or seeing the magnificent creature silhouetted off in the not too distant water, knowing you are sharing the same space – it is exhilarating beyond all belief! We could go on and on with facts and tales of whales. Join Sea Monkey during the season and let our crew expand your knowledge while you laugh, oooh and aaah together over the breathtaking spectacle of the Humpbacks.
Sea Monkey Humpback Whale fun fact: It’s only October, but they are back! At least the scouts are, which is incredibly exciting. The scouts travel right ahead of the pods to ‘scope things out’. They look out for killer whales, sharks, and other dangers. They find the safe havens, and they sing it back to the pods on their way. Meanwhile, the local boats and fishermen have officially received their first playful Humpback Whale shows and Aloha waves of the season – – – Come join us!!
Sharks (Hawaiian Name – Mano)
The serious side of the ocean – Hawaiian waters are home to over 40 species of sharks, though the most commonly seen is the docile white tip reef shark. White tips eat many small fish, octopus, and crustaceans, and are harmless to humans unless harassed and provoked. Most sharks have to continuously move in order for water to move in their mouth and over their gills, allowing them to breathe.
White tip reef sharks can rest on the ocean floor and pump water through their mouth. Ram ventilation is what it’s called for sharks to breathe while swimming; they use muscles around their mouth when resting. Their skin is made up of what is called denticles which is essentially rows and rows of almost microscopic shark teeth which prevent the growth of algae on their skin, so make sure you pet your shark from head to tail and not the other way around!
Other common sharks found around Maui are Tiger and Hammerheads. Definitely not friendly, tiger sharks will eat turtles and whales and are known to attack humans as well. Hammerhead sharks are mostly found around Molokai but can be found in small numbers around Maui. Sharks are considered a most prized Aumakua in the Hawaiian culture.
Sea Monkey shark fun fact: Mala Ramp, on Westside Maui, collapsed in 1992 during hurricane Iniki and has become a favorite hang out for white tips. They like to be lazy and hang out under ledges and in lava tubes, so the fractured ramp provides a fun playground for them to eat, sleep, and put on a show for snorkelers! If weather permits, Mala Ramp is a place we like to visit because it is safe and full of an amazing array of marine life – you might get lucky and see a white tip in the distance!
Dolphins (Hawaiian Name – Nai’a)
Beloved for their ability to look like they are always having the time of their life – jumping – spinning – swimming – dolphins are full of excitement! Hawaii’s 3 most commonly seen dolphins are the Bottlenose, the Spinners, and the Spotted. We would have to say that Spinner’s are definitely the most fun. They are small, have a long beak and in a single leap out of the water they can spin as many as six times. They are found around all of the main islands of Hawaii, hunting at night and either resting or playing during the day.
Spotted dolphins are easily confused with spinners; they are closely related and look very similar. However, the end of their beak is white-tipped and mature ones have a spotted color pattern on their body. Mostly seen in the channels between the islands, the spotted do not rest near shore. Both the spinner and spotted dolphins travel in schools from small numbers up to hundred.
Bottlenose dolphins are much larger in size, live in smaller pods, their color is uniformly gray, and their beak is thicker and more blunt. Super intelligent and very playful they love bow riding where they surf in front of a boat or even a whale’s bow wave.
Sea Monkey dolphin fun fact: It’s so much fun to listen to the stories of captains and fishermen here in Lahaina harbor, and one of them shared this little tidbit: since we are not allowed to pursue swimming with dolphins, she has found that if they are in the nearby waters while your snorkeling, sing into your snorkel while you’re swimming around often times they will come to you – don’t know if it works or not, she swears it does – but it’s worth a try!
Manta and Eagle Rays (Hawaiian name: Hihimanu)
The Hawaiian name means lavish, magnificent, and elegant. The beautiful creatures glide through the water and along the sandy bottom of the ocean like they are gracefully dancing the waltz. Their large flat side fins look like giant butterfly wings. Feeding on mostly plankton and occasional clams, snails, shrimp and fish with no shell, it uses the head fins like speared paddles to scoop food into its mouth.
Manta ray ‘wings’ can get so large that a grown man could lay on each one, each with their arms stretched over their heads and possibly still not cover the full span from tip to tip. That’s huge! Rays have skeletons made of cartilage like sharks, but the resemblance stops there other than the fact that both are awe inspiring. Quite often seen in the Hawaiian waters while snorkeling, the rays are still considered elusive for as soon as you see one, they are off in a moment, perhaps they are related to Batman?
Sea Monkey ray fun fact: though this is a cheat and really nothing to do with the animal ray – Sea Monkey boat is a Sea Ray, too, and glides just as beautifully along the top of the water as the animal rays do underneath! If only it was able to run on fish food instead of gasoline.
Hawaiian Monk Seal
(Hawaiian name: Ilio holo I ka uaua which means dog that runs in rough water)
Extremely endangered with numbers reported to be below 1,200, the Hawaiian Monk Seal is only found in US waters around Hawaii. They are one of the only two mammals in existence that are native to Hawaii. Often found snoozing and warming themselves on local beaches, they are still considered a rare sighting.
Tiger sharks are the main predator for the monk seal, especially the young. However, entanglement from fishing gear, coral bleaching, canine diseases, and ocean acidification are factors that contribute to the dwindling numbers.
Able to dive up to 900 feet in deeper waters, most of their hunting is done in shallow reefs where they thrive on fish, octopus, and crustaceans. They live 25-30 years if they are lucky enough to elude the threats that humans pose. A monk seal pup has a very hard time surviving tiger shark hunts and human interference into their habitat. If you see a Hawaiian Monk Seal consider yourself blessed, but please be respectful and keep your distance. There are preservation teams around the island’s that will come to stand guard over the seal while it rests at a moment’s notice.
Sea Monkey Monk Seal fun fact: There is a local gentleman known to all as “Doc”, his life is dedicated to the monk seals and he can be seen in Lahaina harbor daily spreading his love and knowledge of the seals that he claims to be able to communicate with. If you see a man in a funny straw hat with whirly-gigs sticking up 2 feet above it, that’s Doc! And you can rest assured knowing that he would love to stop and chat with anyone about the Hawaiian Monk Seal. You can even check out his series of informational videos on YouTube by searching DrLeisure1. The following video, not by Doc, is rare footage of the monk seal and a green sea turtle playing, though we do not believe the turtle is having very much fun, what do you think?
Eels (Hawaiian name: Puhi)
Eels are elongated fishes with a snake-like body. They live in crevices and roles, rarely displaying their entire body in the open. In Hawaii they are quite abundant and represented by many species
Eels tend to be territorial, but do not live in only one hole or location for a long time. Eels are constantly opening and closing their mouth, which makes them appear aggressive; however, this is simply the way they breathe. Since eels generally stay in their hole during the day, many of them are quite willing to model for you, at least facial shots. Some of the bolder species such as the Yellowmargin and Whitemouth Moray, along with the Conger Eel, may even allow you to place a framer on them.
Sea Monkey eel fun fact: It’s a little more challenging to photograph the shy garden eels, so this is how you outsmart them paparazzi style – leave your camera outside of it’s burrow and back off about 20 feet, sure enough the eel will reappear and perform for your video!
Picasso Triggerfish The official Hawaiian State Fish
(Hawaiian name – Humuhumunukuapua’a)
There are some very showy guys and gals swimming around in the ocean here in Hawaii – they sport a very ostentatious name and look like they’re all dressed up with nowhere to go, so they hang around the coral reefs showing off their fancy selves. They are the Hawaiian state fish and their name is Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Intimidating, but it’s a lot easier to pronounce than it looks. Just say it like this and you will sound like a Hawaiian in a minute: Who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-pooh-ah-ah. Easy, right, so cheehoo and pat yourself on the back!
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is a triggerfish that is very territorial, so even though they are a show off for snorkelers, they like their space and we highly advise you give it to them, as they have been known to aggressively bite ankles! When Humuhumunukunukuapua’a are happy, healthy, and feel non-threatened their colors are bright and beautiful. When sleeping or feeling invaded they have the ability to tone themselves down into muted coloration for protection.
Sea Monkey Humumunukunukuapua’a fun fact: We hope someday you have an opportunity to snorkel and encounter this flashy fellow, if you’re not a water adventurer you can visit him at the Maui Ocean Center or any aquarium in Hawaii. If worst comes to worst, he is so popular, you will surely see him sported on t-shirts up and down the strip in Old Lahaina Town!
(Hawaiian Name: Wana, pronounced vah-na)
Beautiful spiny creatures called sea urchins draw the attention of snorkelers and divers for their exotic presence. Either round or oval, their spines are designed for special habitats. They have five zones of tube feet, which allow them to attach themselves securely to the coral reef or the ocean floor, and five zones of spiny needles to protect them from predators. Some sea urchins hang out directly in the wave crash zone so these tube feet keep them from getting tossed around. Hawaii has several species of sea urchins; the Collector Urchin and the Pencil urchin are two of the most popularly seen.
The collector gets it’s name from the fact that it’s an ocean hoarder, hanging onto debris that washes over it like seaweed, gravel, and shell – it uses the debris to hide itself.
The Pencil urchin is brightly colored and make for beautiful photo opportunities. Neither of these are harmful, unless you accidentally step on them, so don’t do that! Always be aware of what’s around you as you play in or explore the ocean.
The Diadema urchin is the one you want to look out for. Its slender spiky needles are venomous and extremely painful, so look but don’t touch, it could send you to the emergency room.
Sea Monkey sea urchin fun fact: watch our homepage video and see our crew holding a pencil urchin for the guests to see. Our crew loves to guide you as you snorkel and share the wondrous creatures that live beneath the sea – it’s a magical place down there!
Mahalo for joining us on this short version journey about a few of the amazing creatures that live in Hawaii’s natural aquarium – the Pacific Ocean. Should you find yourself visiting one of our little rocks we call islands, we hope you will take the time to swim, snorkel or dive in our clear waters and experience the spectacular underwater world up close and personally. Truly, there is nothing like it! Whether whale watching from a distance, snorkeling from offshore or chartering your own personal experience aboard a luxury private day cruiser yacht, you will take home memories that will last a lifetime. Aloha!
Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube; “Hawaiian Reef Fish” by Witte/Mahoney; “Documenting The Super Moms of Seals The Hawaiian Monk Seals of Kalaupapa” by Dr. George R. Harker.
Why using reef safe sunscreen is important?
Anyone swimming or snorkeling in the tropical ocean near coral should consider a coral reef safe sunscreen. It is not a mystery that sunscreen that washes off your body when swimming may affect aquatic life. Some commonly used chemical sunscreen ingredients cause coral bleaching and may be affecting coral reefs. In fact near 10% of the world’s coral reefs may be threatened by sunscreen induced coral bleaching.
Each year between 4000-6000 metric tons (4400-6600 US tons) of sunscreen washes off swimmers and snorkelers into coral reef environments. Some of these common sunscreen ingredients were shown to cause complete coral bleaching at very low concentrations.
Avoid these reef-harmful sunscreen ingredients:
- Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
- Butylparaben – Preservative with several suspected human health effects.
- Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects. Allowed in Europe and Canada, not in USA or Japan
There are many other chemical ingredients that are commonly used in wide variety of sunscreens that are bad for you and the coral reef. As a general rule of a thumb it is a good idea to avoid products with a long list of chemical ingredients you can’t read or understand.. The two base ingredients that score best for safety of the coral today are: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Please read Environmental Working Group reports for more detailed and current information about true meaning of “reef safe” sunscreen today.
Other factors to consider when trying to stay sun safe.
Do not confuse SPF number and amount of time the sunscreen will protect you against the powerful UV rays! Many people believe that the SPF number equals the number of minutes you are protected (meaning: SPF 100 gives 100 minutes of protections, while SPF 30 only protects you for 30 minutes). That is not exactly how it works. In fact, SPF 30 filters out 97% of UVB, SPF 50 filters out 98%, and SPF 100 filters out 99%, according to the the American Cancer Society.
In addition, consider other factors when using a sunscreen, such as your water exposure, sweat, and the power of the UV rays. Your weather channel app can tell you how strong the UV Index is in your area at all times. It is a great idea to avoid sun exposure between hours of 10am and 4pm, while UV Index is at its highest. Other ways to stay sun safe is to use hats, sunglasses, and clothing to cover up and seek shade whenever possible.
Our reef safe sunscreen recommendations.
Sea Monkey Private Charters offers a variety of reef safe sunscreens onboard our vessel. We want not only our coral reefs and marine life to be safe, but you too! One of the highly recommended products by many dermatologists today is Elta MD UV Pure Broad -Spectrum SPF 47 Sunscreen. It is sold on Amazon as well as in many dermatology clinics throughout the Country. Purchase it in advance, tuck into your suitcase, you will be ready before you even get to your vacation! If you are planning on snorkeling or swimming in Hawaii – please consider using a locally made sunscreen product. Maui Surfer Honey All Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 can be purchased online or in many local stores. It is reef friendly natural sunscreen, made in Hawaii with natural ingredients and Maui grown essential oils with the crisp dry aroma of rosemary and lemongrass. It contains no Avobenzone, no Homosalate, no Octinoxate, no Octocrylene, no Oxybenzone, no PABA, no Parabens, no Retinyl Palmitate, and no Nano particles and is water resistant for 80 minutes. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and our ocean – and smell great, too!
Sea Monkey, and all of Hawaii say a big mahalo nui loa for your kokua to all who choose wisely to help us preserve our beautiful marine world!
Whether your most remote destination is your backyard swimming pool or off somewhere on a tropical vacation, learning how to snorkel opens a whole new world of fun for all ages.
First things first and that is always safety! Never swim without a buddy, no matter where you are, if you do not have someone to look out for you, do not get in the water. Period! Why? Because even the most simple encounters with water can become dangerous situations in a moment’s notice.
Secondly, be honest with yourself about your level of swimming expertise and whether or not you need a life jacket or other type of floatation device. Let’s face it, the honest truth is they are not a fashion statement by any means, a little bit of an ego-deflator, and basically for the most part, all kids hate them. But, they do their job well and help keep you and your loved ones safe, and besides, we are about to strap on fish-like apparatuses with big buggy eyes and webbed fins, how much more silly looking can we get?! If ever in doubt, listen to your gut and use the safety devices available to you.
Never last or least – apply sunscreen! Always apply before you go outside and re-apply after excessive perspiration or when you exit the water. And again, to err on the side of safety, please take a moment to read the ingredients of any sunscreen you are considering for purchase as it means everything to your body as well as that of the ocean! General rule of thumb is this: if you can not pronounce the ingredient, you do not want to apply it to your body; so buy smart and slather away!
Now, we are ready to get into gear!
Choosing a good fitting mask is key to having the best snorkel experience. If it suits your wallet, stretch a little bit and overlook the cheaper plastic skirted masks and go for silicone which is not only more comfortable, but more durable as well. For all snorkelers, large and small, it does not matter how tightly you pull the straps to make it fit, that is not how it’s done.. once you can suck in while pressing a mask to your face and the suction alone keeps it in place with straps dangling you have for the most part found a good fit. (Always ask a professional for help if available.) Adjust straps just enough to help keep the mask in place. All masks come from factory with a protective film that needs to be removed before your first snorkel. A thin layer of toothpaste (not gel) rubbed into the entirety of the inside lens and allowed to dry is one of the best ways to take care of the film and to keep your mask as fog free as possible. Once dry use a dry, clean soft (dry)cloth to remove the toothpaste film, do not rinse! After you are in the water give the mask a quick dip and press it to your face for a snug fit, be sure no stray hairs keep the mask from a compete seal. Getting your hair wet first and slicking it back usually takes care of this problem. Kids will typically want to take their masks off occasionally and dump any stray water that seeps in, as they become more comfortable with their mask teach them the method of applying pressure to the top of the mask in the center and blowing out through their nose – this is the best way to keep your mask crystal clear and free of water (note that a teeny bit of water inside the mask that you can swish around acts as a nice wishy-washy).
The snorkel you choose should always be relevant to the size of the person using it. Do not buy an overly large snorkel for a small child. Practicing in a bathtub with supervision should allow the child to gain confidence in breathing through the mouthpiece instead of through the nose. Make sure the mouthpiece is a comfortable fit and teach them to rest their teeth in place while not biting down.
Proper fin fit is essential to avoid blisters. Fins typically loosen a tad while in use. Never ever walk around in fins, only penguins can get away with this! It is a good way to fall and sustain injury. Put your fins on at waters edge and gently walk in backward, if you’re entering the ocean never ever turn your attention away from the water! Back in, but keep your eyes on what the waves are doing. In a pool simply sit on the edge, slip on your fins and drop into the water. Fins on small children are sometimes more trouble than they are worth, go with the comfort level of any snorkeler, large or small. Once the snorkeler gets the hang of using fins they will quickly learn how much more mobility they have in the water.
Families that build memories learning the process and snorkeling together get to discover whole new worlds that many never get to experience. Bright colorful fish and coral reefs in their natural habitats. Sea turtles, dolphins, and manta rays! Marine life still living in shells – it is essentially paramount that you teach your children from day one how important it is to look but not touch. These are all living creatures and their lives depend on our respect that it is their world and not ours – we are simply visitors!
We hope that you and your family take the snorkel tidbits of information from this guide and visit a surf/snorkel shop as well for more professional instruction. Our goal is to open an under-the-sea curiosity in your family! If you simply spend your first snorkeling years in the backyard pool, you will still have a lot of fun racing for sinkable pool toys and such, all the while building your skills. You never know, one day you might end up on Maui on a snorkel adventure aboard Sea Monkey Private Charters! Do you have snorkel tips you would like to share with us? Please send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org, we would love to hear from you!
Now that the whales have come and gone for the season you may be wondering what you can do on Maui with your kids. There are so many things to do that you may find you do not have enough time to pack it all in! Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Take family out for some fun in the sun on Sea Monkey Private Boat Charter.
Spectacular coral reefs abundant with colorful fish, sea turtles, and more await you in destinations you can not even believe exist and some you surely have never heard of! And, the best kept secret of all is the most fun and awesome way to experience them – a destination all your own – that’s right – just you and your family! Cast away aboard Sea Monkey Private Charters and let us take you to magical places where the reef belongs to you and you alone. Kids love the speed of the boat, cruising along and jamming to the beats of their very own personal playlists. Mom and Dad love watching their kids have the time of their lives and join in the fun as together you explore the coastlines, the deep blue waters, and sometimes, when weather and timing permit, fun abounds as you head to the island of Lana’i and enter a whole new world of snorkeling adventures! Sea Monkey Private Charters is your first step toward the most fun, exhilarating snorkel adventure that is sure to be one of the most favorite days for you and your family on Maui! If you can dream it, we will do our best to make it happen! Call us today!
Sea Monkey Private Charters
Lahaina Harbor, Slip 14
2. Maui Ocean Center.
Located in Ma’Alaea, Maui Ocean Center is a gem of an aquarium for kids of all ages. Watch with bated breath as sharks and manta rays skim by your fingertips or swim overhead with nothing more between you than a wall of glass. Visit sea turtles up close and personal as well as the many other creatures that dwell within the Hawaiian ocean. Some are bright and colorful, some are camouflaged, some are playful, some are daunting – all are spectacular! Be sure to call ahead and see when a brave scuba diver will enter the shark tank!
Maui Ocean Center
192 Ma’alaea Rd.
3. Enjoy a Lazy Beach Day
Be lazy together! But first, be sure to plan ahead and visit Hangloose Hammocks Hawaii in the Wharf in Lahaina and pick up all of your hammocking gear for your lazy day. Hard to beat hanging in a hammock on a beach in Hawaii! Pack your beach gear for the day and head to Leoda’s Pie Shoppe in Olowalu and start your day off with chicken and waffles – there are no words to describe the deliciousness that awaits you there! After visiting Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, mosey on down to Mile Marker 14 in Olowalu and set up for your day of fun in the sun. Nap, play in the water, and nap some more… always make sure someone has an eye on the kids, don’t forget your reef friendly Dr. Martin sunscreen (available at ABC Stores and various dive shops around the island), and drink plenty of water. Some of your most magical, fun, Maui days with your kids are the days you just laze the day away at the beach.
Hangloose Hammocks Hawaii.
658 Front St – upstairs in the Wharf.
Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop.
820 Olowalu Village Rd
4. Napili Bay
Napili Bay is a great place for the not ready to be surfers in your family to play on boogie boards. Available to rent at Boss Frog’s, many locations are just a google away around the island. If you have your adventure on then by all means, surf lessons at Goofy Foot Surf School located in the Shops at 505, Lahaina, you will feel like a pro, even if the waves are only as high as your knees (it’s the ocean, you can never know how high or how mighty the waves may come in, never turn your back on the ocean – safety first!).
Boss Frog’s has 9 convenient locations around the Island. Some are in Laiana, Ka’anapali, Napili, Wailea, Kahana and Kihei. bossfrogs.com.
5. Visit historic Lahaina Town and take pictures with the “Birds of Paradise”.
There are countless fun things to do in Historic Lahaina Town. Filled with restaurants, shops, museums, galleries and much more this Town is definitely a “must do” on the list for all Maui visitors. Don’t forget to include family photos by the Bird Man on the corner of Front Street in Old Lahaina Town by the Pioneer Inn. His exotic birds will perch on heads, shoulders, arms… wherever they feel like posing at the moment. You may even get kissed by a friendly beak. While there, you don’t want to miss the Banyan Tree – and you can’t miss it, it is proportionally huge and a favorite place for kids to play, make new friends, or simply stand in awe.
Fun on Maui with kids is a never ending journey. Hula shows, luau’s, waterfall hikes in the Hana jungle, black sand beaches – but sometimes the best times are right outside your door. Bocce ball on the beach after watching the sun set over the horizon is guaranteed fun for the whole family.
We are always committed and eager to help your family have the most Maui fun possible. Fee free to call Sea Monkey Private Charters for more information 808-491-9141. The most fun things to do on Maui with your kids await!
Hawaii is one of the most remote places on the globe. Surrounded by thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean – it is not a surprise that Maui offers some of the best snorkeling in the world. There are numerous snorkeling locations for visitors to explore. We wanted to narrow down and discuss our top 10 favorite snorkeling destinations near Maui.
#1 Lana’i Island
There are numerous great, uncrowded spots to snorkel along the coast of Lana’i Island. You need to either take a ferry to Lanai, or take a snorkel boat to the island. It’s best known for scuba diving, but there snorkeling is unique for many reasons. Reports seeing hundreds of dolphins while snorkeling on a very regular basis are common. There’s a large community of spinner dolphins that inhabit the shores of Lana’i.
#2 Black Rock
Black Rock is the large rock hill at the north end of Ka’anapali Beach. This is a great spot because of the easy access and protection that the rocky cliffs often give from northerly swell activity. Kaanapali beach has many high-end resorts along the beach, so walking to Black Rock is easy from here. Otherwise, you can drive along the Honoapi’ilani Highway (30) and turn on Kaanapali Parkway or Kekae Dr towards the ocean. When snorkeling, make sure to stay clear of cliff divers. Also, each night, a Hawaiian torch lighting ceremony occurs where tiki torches are lit along the coastline and all the way up to the top of Black Rock. It ends with the torch lighters jumping into the ocean. A lot of fun to watch.
#3 La Perouse
One of the furthest southern spots you can visit on the island of Maui, La Perouse’s volcanic landscape is something from another world. As you drive south on Makena Road, you’ll pass the last houses then drive for miles through a very-rugged lava field. When you get to the end of the road, you’ll find a dirt parking lot with a rocky bay. This bay has some amazing ocean life, and it’s known to be the site where a pod of spinner dolphins likes to spend time. If you see the dolphins, give them space and keep your distance. Do everything you can to not affect their normal swimming route. Also, take care when entering and exiting the ocean here. The rocks are sharp, and during the summer there might be south swells making the water rougher than normal.
#4 Honolua Bay
In contrast to La Perouse Bay, Honolua Bay is one of the most northern bays on the island. This large bay is pretty well protected from wind and even when there’s swell, it can be calm on the inside (though it’s recommended to not snorkel when there are waves.) Driving north on the Honoapi’ilani Highway (31), you’ll wrap down and around a very lush area of rainforest, which is the apex of the bay. With adequate permission, you can walk through the forest to the shoreline. Some of the best snorkeling is further up the coastline on the right and left. You’ll often see boats in here with snorkelers, a much easier way to get directly to the best snorkel areas at Honolua Bay.
#5 Coral Gardens
Coral Gardens is the name given to the area along the cliffs of the Pali. The Pali is the area along the coastline from Ukumehame and Papalaua to Maalaea. There are many great spots to snorkel here, but they’re often impossible to access by car or foot. The cliffs are incredibly steep and unstable, which is great for keeping wind and crowds down but not so good for accessing. This is why you’ll sometimes see snorkel boats here when the wind is up at Molokini Crater. You’ll also find that some snorkel charters refer to these areas as Turtle Town. They may be right. See #8 on what we think of Turtle Town.
#6 Ahihi Bay
Just past the last entrances of Big Beach (Makena Beach) is a little cove called Ahihi Bay. It’s the last little Bay before the last houses (Sugarman’s Estate) when driving south. If you keep driving, you’ll see lava fields and you’ll know you’ve gone too far. There’s just a few spots for parking, and it often has at least a few people there. When you enter the water, make sure you do so only at the northern end where there’s a little bit of sand. You’ll feel a concrete slab under the water at the very entrance. Any other area of access is forbidden and dangerous for you and the reef. Ahihi Bay is part of the protected Ahihi Hinau Natural Area Reserve, which protects the ocean life from fishing. This being said, there’s a lot of fish and vibrant coral reef here.
#7 Kapalua & Napili Bays
Kapalua Bay has a public parking lot off of the Lower Honoapi’ilani Highway. It’s often crowded, but the snorkeling in the bay is great. Just south of Kapalua Bay is the Napili area, which has all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore. Parking isn’t all that easy to find, but there is a little bit of parking near Napili Bay. Both sides of the bay have great snorkeling and lots of turtles. Occasionally, you’ll see a monk seal on the beach (keep your distance.) If you’re adventurous, you can snorkel south to Honokeana Bay, which has similar snorkeling. It’s a fun spot to snorkel, but access is very dangerous due to the rocky/cliff entry. It’s also problematic when there’s any swell since this is where the surf spot “Hole in the Head” is. Yes, that’s the name of the spot. And yes, we can attest to the accuracy of the name from experience. Not fun. Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay offer far better protection from surf.
#8 “Turtle Town”
The infamous and controversial Turtle Town’s location is widely contested. After having heard dozens of captains claiming 20-30 different spots as the official Turtle Town, we can only come to the conclusion that Turtle Town is where ever a lot of turtles have been seen recently. It’s very difficult to know where Turtle Town is right now, unless you are a captain that’s been searching for them in the last few days. The most widely agreed upon spot is in front of the Makena Beach & Golf Resort. We agree that you can find turtles there, but to be honest, we see turtles almost every time we get in the water anywhere around Maui. The 2nd reef at Ulua/Mokapu has a Hawaiian sea turtle cleaning station, so that’s a viable spot to see them as well.
Often used as the training ground for new scuba divers by the scuba schools, we find this area is great for seeing ocean life along the reefs with an easy beach entry. The next beaches north of Wailea beach and south of Keawakapu beach are 2 connected beaches: Ulua Beach and Mokapu Beach. A rocky reef formation separates the 2 beaches. Along this reef can be found all kinds of coral and ocean life. If you’re adventurous and have the ability to snorkel at depths, about 30 feet down you’ll find a turtle cleaning station along the second reef. When water clarity is high, you can see it from the surface.
#10 Molokini Crater
Snorkeling Molokini Crater is a popularthing to do due to the high-visibility of the protected inner waters and also for the abundance of ocean life due to it being deemed a Marine Life Conservation District. Having one of the best wall dives, the backside of the crater is also a world famous scuba diving spot. This volcanic atoll is only a few miles from the south coast of Maui, making for a quick and fun trip by boat from Ma’alaea Harbor.
Caution: When in the ocean anywhere in Maui County, there are many dangers you should be aware of. We are not liable for any loss or damage that many occur when entering the ocean. Our suggestions come with many red flags! Be careful of waves, sharp coral reef, sharp rocks, dangerous ocean life, vessels, other people, your own ability, aliens, Loch Ness Monsters, and any and all things that could be dangerous.