Added by Michael Wigle

Hidden along Maui's western coast is a reef making a come back that belongs on every explorers must-see list.

There are only a few Hawai'ian snorkeling gems better than Kapalua Bay. Tucked into a narrow cover along the rocks of a long dormant volcano is a beautiful sandy bay that should be on any Maui snorkeling list. The neighborhood is quiet and relaxed that surrounds a picturesque beach. Getting here is both easy and rewarding almost any time of the day.

To get here, follow Lower Honopiilani Rd. toward Merriman's restaurant. Their parking lot has a few pay spots for the bay adjacent to a free lot (first come first serve). Get there early to avoid the crowds right before peak tides to catch calm seas. Dawn is always preferred because the winds are typically calmer in the morning making for less surf and clearest waters. If the day is scheduled to be windy, remember this adds to the waves and lowers visibility. The lower the visibility the more dangerous the dive.

At the end of the beach parking lot is a short path down to the water that travels through a small tunnel. Kayaks, paddle boards, and surfboards are easily transported to the beach. If you are planning on seeing wildlife and corals, enter the water at the north end along the rocks. The best viewing is at extreme high tide when all the channels underwater can be safely explored.

Rocky bottoms are better than sandy bottoms as there is less sediment to disturb which makes the water cloudy. There comes a risk along walls where the waves break to be pushed into the reef so pay attention and always snorkel with buddy. The reward is some of the most unique lava formations to find a fully array of marine life. For the more advanced swimmer and snorkeler, continuing further out around the northern point into Namalu Bay increases the likelihood of seeing bigger species and green sea turtles.

Set aside at least 90 minutes to explore the bay. There are many drop offs around the formations to explore. If you approach the reef slowly and gently the life will acclimate and come out of hiding to put on a show.

When you're done, feel free to relax on the best sunset beach this side of the island. If you have proper attire the bar overlooking the bay at Merriman's has the best Mai Tai's. If traveling on a budget, the Maui Brew Co. is just down the road toward Lahaina where a cold draft and sliders pair well before heading off on the next adventure.


Read More


Stand Up Paddle
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Swimming Hole


Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Kula, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park (Cabin Permits)

Overview Located on the island of Maui, Haleakala National Park maintains three wilderness cabins for normal visitor use, Holua (elevation 6,940ft 2,115m), Kapalaoa (elevation 7,250ft 2,210m), and ...

From $75/night

Hawi, Hawaii

Aloha Cottage

For a more quiet, intimate Hawaiian retreat, check out the Big Island's northern coastline. Away from the bustling visitor areas, the Always in Season's, Aloha Cottage offers privacy and comfort ma...

From $120/night

Hawi, Hawaii

Farmstead Suite

You can stay nearby and enjoy the laid-back vibe of the Big Island at the Always in Season, Farmstead Suite. Homegrown foods are available for your table with island fruits, avocados, and vegetabl...

From $160/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Paddle Board (SUP) Napili Bay, Maui

    This is an awesome place to stand up paddle - whether you are an experienced paddleboarder or a beginner. The bay is generally calm and protected and easy to board in. Beginners can stay closer to shore and feel comfortable in the calm, clear wate...

  • Surf Honolua Bay

    Honolua Bay is one of the best waves on the northwestern coast of Maui and offers up great waves during the winter months. The break picks up Northern swells and produces a near-perfect right-hand point break with big barrels and turn sections. Th...

  • Explore the Nakalele Blowhole

    Getting to the Nakalele Blowhole is not too difficult. Use the Google Maps location on here to drive to the spot listed. There will be a dirt parking lot.Warning: If you are coming from Kahului, do not take the Kahekili Highway (Hwy 340) unless yo...

    0.3 miles -300 ft gain

  • Beach Day at Kaanapali Beach

    Kaanapali Beach is about a 45-minute drive from Kahului Airport, and only two miles from Lahaina.  Nearly all of the seaside resorts here back right up to the beach, making it an ideal place to stay if beach time is your top priority.  If you are ...