Maui Snorkeling Tours: 5 Best Places to Visit

Looking to do some snorkeling in Hawaii? Then you should definitely visit the Island of Maui! It offers the best snorkeling spots among all of the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is a stunning volcanic paradise which is known for its snorkeling, wave surfing, whale watching and scuba diving activities. It is important to plan out your trip and research all Maui snorkeling tours that you can enjoy with your family and friends. Read below on the things you will need and the top 5 snorkeling spots to visit.

Maui Snorkeling Tours with Dolphins

Credit to: Swimming with dolphins. Photo: Hilton Waikoloa

Furthermore, snorkeling is a relatively easy and popular activity, even though some beginners may have various fears of diving to the ocean’s floor with all its rocks, fish and weeds. Of course, at Maui there are plenty of instructors that can give you tips on swimming when you purchase a snorkeling tour. Moreover, the oceanic waters of Maui are very clear, you could see about 100 feet down on a good day. At some locations like the Molokini Crater, water visibility averages 150 feet due to coral and rock formations holding less sediment which eliminates water murkiness.

Hawaiian Tropical Fish Examples

Hawaiian Tropical Fish Examples

The whole Island of Maui is famous for its marine reserve which happens to be the Molokini Crater. In the World War II the Molokini Crater was used by US air force as a target practice and many of it parts have been damaged. Today, one can still see the bullet holes in its cliffs and the underwater craters resulting from bomb testing operations. However, most of the Molokini Island is still intact and beautiful, this is why in 1977 the Shoal Marine Life Conservation District established the Molokini Crater as a conservation area and put restrictions on fishing and coral removal. From an enthusiast’s perspective, the waters of Maui have plenty of beautiful coral, tropical fish, turtles, dolphins, whales and other aquatic animals that you can get to experience.

While at Maui, should you rent or buy snorkeling gear?

This question is asked more than a million times by all the tourists that visit Maui each year. While for some people this decision can be easy, for others it may be more of a challenge. Since not all us are into diving or snorkeling on regular basis, and may be we are planning to do it only a few times on a specific vacation. In order to simplify your decision making process, we have broken it down into pros and cons to give you the ultimate answer.

Snorkeling Mask with Tube

Snorkeling Mask with Tube



  • You do not have to haul around unnecessary snorkeling gear that may takes too much space in your luggage, backpack or handbag.
  • You do not have to spend extra money on something that you might use only ones or twice, especially if you are not an avid snorkeler by life.


  • The rental equipment quality may be not as good as you would expect. Therefore, your mask may leak, your fins may not fit correctly or the adjusting straps may be warn out.
  • Some rental companies charge too much money for okay equipment, so you really may not be getting the best deal unless you shop around. You may need to pay a higher rental price for a product you could have easily bought yourself.
  • Sanitation of the rental equipment can be questionable. How many people do you think used that mask, tube or fins before you? If you are renting out from a busy aqua shop, then the answer is probably a lot.
  • Finding a rental company near your location can be a challenge. Depending on where you will staying it may be hard to a find a rental shop that is close to you. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time driving or walking around just to find one.
Snorkeling Gear to Buy

Snorkeling Gear to Buy



  • You get exactly the item that you want, and nobody else touches it unless you allow it. This saves your equipment from additional damage and therefore it will last longer.
  • You will always have a set to take on vacation with you that will fit. Meaning that when in the water, the mask will sit well on you and the fins will be comfortable. This way, you would actually enjoy your snorkeling and would not need to take off your mask because it is leaking water, getting fogy or the strap is hurting your head.
  • You will get to use it as often as you like, on all of your travel destinations. Which means in the long run, you will be saving money by NOT renting snorkeling gear on every trip you take.


  • You will have to spend money upfront, and for a good snorkeling set it can ran over $100. If you are on super low budget then you might get a cheaper set but it may not be as good.
  • When preparing for your vacation, once you put the mask, the snorkel tube, fins and the swim suit, there will be a lot less space in your luggage or backpack. Furthermore, that space will be taken completely since you have to bring the snorkeling gear back home. Instead, you could have had that extra space allocated for gifts which you can bring to your family and friends from Hawaii.

The Summary – Buying vs. Renting

In the end, both alternatives buying or renting make sense for certain individuals. But, is there one solution that is kind of in the middle of the two options? Yes there is.

The ultimate solution is:  to buy only the mask with the tube, while the fins you can rent on the spot. The mask is the most important item, since without it you would not be able to see comfortably underwater. If you buy a mask with a slim design, it will take little space in your luggage and carrying it around before your Maui snorkeling tour would be much easier. In addition, if you don’t know which mask to buy then we suggest you view the video below to get a better idea.

If you ready to buy your snorkeling gear then we suggest you check out Cressi Panoramic Wide View Mask Dry Snorkel Set. It is a really good mask set and is made out of quality materials.

Cressi Panoramic Wide View Mask Dry Snorkel Set Buy

“After going back and forth, we decided to buy two of the Cressi’s masks and totally loved them. We went snorkeling in Bora Bora and did not have any problem at all. We are not experience swimmers but we did snorkel for maybe 30-40 minutes at a time. If I remember correctly I used some baby shampoo to coat the mask internally and that did the trick. Material and constructions are great. Tube works perfectly”.
By:RF , Amazon Review
The mask has the following features:
  • Durable Polycarbonate frame with Tempered glass lenses which are crack/scratch resistant
  • Soft 100% silicone rubber skirt to  help create tight air seal between the mask and you face
  • Quick-adjust mask strap buckle, which helps with locking the mask in into place
Tips on how to use your mask:
  • Make sure you buy a mask which has soft rubber or silicone skirt around it so that it does not hurt your face when you put it on
  • When putting the mask on, you want it to be snug and comfortable but not too tight where it creates marks or a line on your forehead
  • For men who have facial hair, the only spot you may need to trim is right under your nose to that there is no hair between the silicon/rubber skirt and your face to prevent mask from leaking
  • One way to know if you mask has a good fit, is to put the mask against your face and breath-in through your nose until the mask sticks to your face.There should be no air moving between the face and the skirt of the mask. If the mask falls off that means you need to readjust the straps for pressure

Once you got your snorkeling gear all figured out, it is time to pick your location and tour on which you want to go. The great thing about Maui snorkeling tours is that you get to see more of the coast line as you get on with the adventure.

Top 5 Spots for Maui Snorkeling Tours

Below we have listed the best five locations to visit during your Maui snorkeling tour adventure. These spots are perfect for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike. They provide an amazing Hawaii experience that you will remember for a lifetime.

1. Maui Snorkeling Tours at Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater Maui Snorkeling Tour

Molokini Crater Maui Snorkeling Tour

Molokini Crater is one of the few small islands in the world that has been formed due to land shifts from near by volcanoes 150 thousand years ago. It is ideally located just 2.5 miles off the south shore of Maui. The volcanic crater is partially submerged in the ocean and is unique in every sense possible for snorkeling. There are over 250 species of tropical fish there, over 100 species of algae and more than 35 hard coral species. The waters are crystal clear with a visibility of up to 150 feet. It is ranked as the #1 snorkeling spot among all the Hawaiian Islands combined, due to its geographical location. To view Molokini Crater snorkeling tours check out Tom Barefoot’s deal by clicking this link: Morning Molokini and Turtle Town Adventure – Lani Kai/Friendly Charters

“Our whole experience was amazing! We did the Snuba and would definitely recommend it! We were even able to purchase underwater pictures from our Snuba dive. The whole staff was very friendly and accommodating. I would definitely recommend the Lani Kai/Friendly Charters!”
Tiffany Mitchell , Tom Barefoot's Tours

2. Maui Snorkeling Adventure in Turtle Town with Kayaks  

Turtle Town Maui Snorkeling and Kayak Tour

Turtle Town Maui Snorkeling and Kayak Tour

Turtle  Town is renowned for being the site of the Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles, which is an endangered species. It is located midpoint between the Black Sand Beach and Nahuna Point. Snorkeling here is a lot of fun as you are likely to be approached by the beautiful sea turtles gently swimming towards you as you go underwater. You will also find other aquatic species such as Chub, Snapper, Butterflyfish, Perch and Triggerfish.

“This was an amazing excursion! We saw so many turtles starting from the first minute we were in our kayaks. We snorkeled for at least an hour and saw probably about 20 turtles up close and personal! Our guide, John Shapell, was awesome – very friendly and encouraging. He also took some amazing pictures of our group that we purchased for a very reasonable fee of only $85 for our group of 9. He sent us a link a few days later to over500 pictures! We had go pros with us and took our own pictures but his were ten times better! Definitely worth the money. I’m not sure if all guides do this or not but I would definitely ask for John if you want some great pictures of your trip. I will say that if you have never kayaked before or have younger children, the kayaking might be a little difficult.One mom and daughter in our group had to be towed by the guide. It is ocean kayaking so can be a little more difficult than lake or river kayaking”
Rita Fuja , Tom Barefoot's Tours

3. Maui Snorkeling Tours – Honolua Bay Sailing Trip

Honolua Bay Maui Snorkeling Tour - Sail Adventure

Honolua Bay Maui Snorkeling Tour – Sail Adventure

Honolua Bay is at a 20 minute drive from the Lahaina Town on North-West Shore of the island. It is a stunning place with a wide variety of aquatic life, such as tropical fish, coral reef formations and algae. You will find lots of  Green Hawaiian sea turtles here. There are a plenty of wonderful opportunities for snorkeling for adults and kids alike. Honolua Bay is a part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District. Best go in s the summer months as the bay is calm which creates ideal snorkeling conditions. In the winter however, they bay is battered with a large surf and a popular destination for surfers.

“This was my favorite day . The weather was perfect (warm, calm and sunny) . We spent quite a bit of time whale watching with the wonderful commentaries of the staff Naturalist on board (he was wonderful!), swam near the turtles in a calm reef. And the Monk seal siting (swam near but not to stress) was so cool. The food and Maitais…just topped it off perfectly. Will do again but it won’t be this perfect :)”
Becky Marks , Tom Barefoot's Tours

4. Maui Snorkeling Tours in Coral Gardens

Maui Snorkeling Tours in Coral Gardens

Maui Snorkeling Tours in Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens is centrally located on the West Maui shoreline. You will find a vast collection of bright, colorful fish here such as Butterfly fish, Triggerfish, Parrot Fish, Moray Eels and more, as well as naturally beautiful coral reef formations. There are a plenty of Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles here, which are a sight to behold. The waters around here are generally calm and clear, and ideal for snorkeling.

“We had a really great time on this afternoon trip. Check in was well organized. We departed on time. Weather was cooperating so we were able to go to Molokini. Usually the afternoon snorkel trips don’t go there because the trade winds kick up. We saw a few whales on the way and hooked a fish but it got away. We were the only boat at the crater. A tasty lunch was ready when we tied up. We had 1.5 hours in the water, which was more than most people used. We saw huge amounts of fish a couple of eels and a shark swam right beneath us just when we got the all aboard call back to the ship. The warm fresh water shower was a nice amenity before we dried off. We got back to port right on time. The crew was super friendly and attentive. They are a well oiled machine. We have been coming to Maui a couple times a year for 20 years and have taken dozens of boat trips. This was one of the best!”
Greg B , Tom Barefoot's Tours

5. Maui Snorkeling Tours in Kapalua Bay – Maui Kayaks Expedition

Maui Snorkeling Adventure in Kapalua Bay

Maui Snorkeling Adventure in Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay is a beautiful beach located in the West Maui area, between the Oneloa Bay and Honokahua Bay. Kapalua means “two borders” in the native Hawaiian language. Conde Nast Traveler Magazine calls it the “Best Beach in the World” and the Travel Channel considers Kapalua Bay to be the “Best Beach in America”. Yes, it is really that good, and is perfect for your snorkeling adventure. The marine life here is bright and colorful, abundant in Triggerfish, Box Fish, Perch, Cornet Fish, Parrotfish, Butterfly Fish and more.

“Maui Kayaks was a great experience, our guide was fantastic and very knowledgable. He took us to a great snorkelling spot where we saw 15 turtles. Thanks Maui Kayaks we had a great time, would highly recommend!”
Todd McCallum , Tom Barefoot's Tours

Weather you are visiting Maui for the first time or your a returning tourist, there is always something new and exciting to do. If you are looking to visit another island or want to see more activities, then check out our Hawaii Activity Deals page where we have added the most popular deals for each Hawaiian Island.

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