Maui, known for its stunning landscapes and rich marine life, offers some of the best snorkeling experiences in the world. But with so many options, where do you begin your exploration? Where is the best snorkeling in Maui? Among the wealth of underwater spots, three stand out for their unique beauty and biodiversity: the iconic Molokini Crater, Turtle Town, and Coral Gardens. Whether you’re a novice snorkeler or an experienced underwater adventurer, these locations promise an unforgettable experience.

Our Maui Snorkeling Tours are ranked among the best snorkeling tours on Maui and are packed with excitement, including a 5-hour morning voyage to Molokini Crater and a 2nd location (Turtle Town or Coral Gardens), a 3-hour afternoon voyage to Coral Gardens, and options for Private & Group Charters for up to 67 passengers. Here’s why Molokini Crater, Turtle Town, and Coral Gardens are essential stops on our Maui Snorkeling Tours.

Molokini Crater: A Snorkeler’s Paradise

Molokini Crater, a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater, is not just a national marine sanctuary; it’s a snorkeling wonderland. Molokini Crater stands out as a premier destination for snorkeling enthusiasts visiting Maui. The crystal-clear waters of this ancient caldera offer visibility up to 150 feet on a clear day, making it a top pick for the best snorkeling in Maui.

Home to over 250 species of fish, many of which are endemic to Hawaii, and a variety of other marine life, Molokini provides a vibrant tapestry of colors and shapes, ideal for those who enjoy underwater photography or simply the thrill of swimming alongside exotic creatures.

Snorkel effortlessly alongside colorful tangs, butterflyfish, and the state fish of Hawaii, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Although you won’t find any turtles in Molokini, we often see giant parrotfish because there is no fishing allowed. In addition to these, there are 15 species of moray eel, octopus and on a rare occasion, we see the majestic manta ray. The protected waters inside the crater mean you can enjoy calm snorkeling conditions, perfect for all skill levels.

Molokini’s ecosystem is supported by the lush coral reefs that line the crater’s underwater walls. These corals are not only crucial for the marine habitat but also add to the breathtaking scenery beneath the waves. The range of coral formations provides a home and breeding ground for many marine species, further enhancing the biodiversity of the area.

The protected status of Molokini Crater helps maintain its pristine condition and ensures that it remains a safe haven for all its inhabitants. This status also means that snorkeling here is regulated, which helps preserve the natural beauty and ecological balance of the crater. The regulations ensure that snorkelers and tour operators respect the environment, making Molokini snorkeling not only a paradise to see marine life but also a sustainable choice for eco-conscious travelers.

Molokini Snorkeling Tours

Snorkel Molokini and ride the slide aboard the Lani Kai II. See tropical fish and vibrant coral reefs!

Turtle Town: Encounter with the Gentle Giants

Turtle Town is another top spot for snorkeling in Maui. Located along the southern coast of Maui, Turtle Town is famed for its frequent sightings of Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu). They’re a symbol of longevity and navigation in Hawaiian culture. These gentle giants are often seen gliding serenely through the water or resting on the ocean floor. 

Remember, it’s crucial to maintain a respectful distance and avoid disturbing their natural behavior. They are off the endangered species list, but still a protected species and you must maintain a minimum of 10 feet of distance! Our eco-friendly tours ensure responsible interaction with these magnificent creatures!

Turtle Town, made up of several dive sites around Maluaka Beach, offers a unique opportunity to observe these endangered creatures in their natural habitat. The underwater terrain here is marked by fascinating lava formations that have been sculpted by ancient volcanic activity. These natural structures form crevices and caves that provide ideal resting and feeding spots for the turtles. The lava formations, combined with the nutrient-rich waters, contribute to the growth of vibrant coral reefs that further enrich the marine habitat.

The coral reefs at Turtle Town are alive with a variety of marine life, creating a bustling underwater metropolis. Snorkelers can expect to see a colorful array of tropical fish, including triggerfish, parrotfish, and the occasional moray eel. The reefs also host numerous invertebrates like sea urchins and starfish, adding to the complexity and beauty of the underwater landscape. This biodiversity not only supports the turtles but also attracts a range of other marine predators and visitors, making every snorkeling trip a new adventure.

Turtle Town’s calm and clear waters make it accessible for snorkelers of all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner looking to get comfortable in the water or an experienced snorkeler in search of a rich, vibrant dive site, Turtle Town offers conditions that are welcoming and accommodating. The visibility is typically high, allowing snorkelers to enjoy expansive views of the underwater world and ensuring that turtle sightings are frequent and rewarding.

Snorkeling at Turtle Town Maui also offers educational value. Our Maui Snorkeling tours include knowledgeable captains and crew members who provide insights into the lives of Hawaiian green sea turtles and the ecological importance of maintaining their habitat. These experiences not only enhance your understanding but also promote conservation efforts crucial for the survival of the species. This unique snorkeling destination offers both tranquility and the thrill of discovery, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the best snorkeling in Maui.


Coral Gardens: A Riot of Color

Coral Gardens, situated on the west coast of Maui near the pali (cliffs) between Lahaina and Ma’alaea, is celebrated for its impressive coral formations and the surplus of marine life it supports. One of the primary attractions of Coral Gardens is its accessibility and suitability for snorkelers at all levels, particularly beginners. The area is shielded by the nearby cliffs, resulting in gentle currents and relatively shallow waters that make it an ideal location for those new to snorkeling or who prefer a more relaxed experience. These conditions allow snorkelers to focus on the beauty below without the concern of strong currents, making it a safe and enjoyable environment for families and less confident swimmers.

The coral formations at Coral Gardens are some of the most impressive on Maui making it one of the best spots for snorkeling in Maui. These structures are not only visually stunning but also serve as a critical habitat for numerous marine species. Snorkelers are often amazed by the density and variety of the coral, which range from delicate branching forms to robust, boulder-like structures. Each piece of coral is a living organism, and together, they build a dynamic reef system that supports a healthy marine environment.

Diving into the waters of Coral Gardens, snorkelers are greeted by a display of color and activity. The area is teeming with vibrant coral heads that are bustling with life. Schools of brightly colored butterfly fish flutter by in a display of synchronized swimming, while parrotfish nibble at the corals, their vivid hues standing out against the underwater landscape. The occasional sighting of an octopus adds a touch of mystery and excitement to the experience, as these elusive creatures are masters of camouflage and can often be found hiding in plain sight among the corals.

Beyond these more common inhabitants, Coral Gardens also hosts a variety of other marine life, including sea urchins, crabs, and the graceful manta ray. Each visit can reveal new sights and species, adding to the thrill of exploration. The biodiversity here not only makes Coral Gardens a fascinating place for natural observation but also allows us to provide a vital teaching moment about the complexity and fragility of marine ecosystems.

Coral Gardens offers a tranquil yet vibrant snorkeling locale that is perfect for those looking to explore the underwater marvels of Maui without venturing into deep or turbulent waters. Its protected coral reefs, abundant marine life, and stunning natural surroundings make it a standout destination for anyone seeking the best snorkeling in Maui making it one of our favorite Maui Snorkeling Tours destinations.

Snorkel Coral Gardens

Join our Maui Snorkeling Tours to Coral Gardens, an ideal adventure for snorkelers of all ages and skill levels!

Why choose our Maui Snorkeling Tours?

Choosing to explore these sites with our Maui Snorkeling Tours not only enhances safety and guidance but also enriches your experience with expert knowledge of the local marine environments. We can provide insights into the behavior of various marine species and the ecological importance of reefs. Our Maui Snorkeling Tours include many amenities such as gear, food, drinks, a 25-ft water slide, and even photography opportunities, making your snorkeling trip hassle-free and more enjoyable!

Molokini Snorkeling Morning Tour

This tour offers an exhilarating journey to two prime snorkeling destinations. Operating daily from 7 AM to 12 PM, this tour promises a morning filled with underwater discoveries. We kick off our adventure at the iconic Molokini Crater, renowned for its clear waters and vibrant marine life. As our primary destination, Molokini provides a perfect snorkeling experience. Following that, we head to Turtle Town, where the serene Hawaiian green sea turtles await, or Coral Gardens where the vibrant coral formations await you.

Maui Snorkeling Afternoon Tour

This Maui Snorkeling Tour is perfect for those looking for a more relaxed and less crowded snorkeling experience. Operating daily from 1 pm to 4 pm, most afternoons we explore the vibrant Coral Gardens or visit Turtle Town, where you can snorkel and enjoy our fun water slide. On special occasions, we offer an exclusive snorkeling-only session at the Molokini Crater.

Conclusion: The Best Snorkeling in Maui with our Maui Snorkeling Tours

Molokini Crater, Turtle Town, and Coral Gardens are the jewels in Maui’s snorkeling crown. Each location offers something unique, from the ethereal beauty of a sunken volcanic crater and turtle encounters to the dazzling spectacle of thriving coral ecosystems. To truly experience the best snorkeling in Maui, consider booking our morning or afternoon Maui Snorkeling Tour that covers these spectacular spots. With professional guidance, you can dive deeper into the beauty of Maui’s underwater world, making memories that will last a lifetime. Happy snorkeling!

Maui Snorkeling Tours

Join our Maui Snorkeling Tours to Molokini Crater, Turtle Town, and Coral Gardens. All-inclusive snorkeling adventures! 

Tropical Fish in Maui
Tropical Fish