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Posts Tagged ‘snorkel’

As with my previous Maui Beaches top 10 list, this list may not agree with other views of beaches on the island of Maui. This list represents the beaches I have enjoyed the most, and the ones I look forward to visiting on our next visit to Maui. And as with my other blog posts, you can click on the green hyperlinks to open the previous posts.

#1 – Secret Cove Beach – this one makes it to the top of my list since it was our wedding beach. It is always the first beach we visit once we have unpacked and settled into our condo. Its a small beach, and I have only seen one or two people swimming here in all of our visits. So without the sentimental wedding memories it may not seem like the #1 beach to everyone. But it will always be our favorite.

Maui Destination Wedding Beach Northern Pixel Photography

#2 – Maluaka Beach – an amazing south Maui beach, and one of my favorite snorkeling spots. We have spent quite a bit of time here as well. Great sand, great water, scenic for photography, its our favorite beach to spend the day.

Maluaka Beach

#3 – Napili Beach – the beach I would stay at if we ever stay in West Maui. Scenic, great sand, great boogie boarding, great snorkeling. Its a 45 minute drive from our condo in Kihei, but one of our favorite day trip locations.

Napili Beach Maui Wedding

#4 – Palauea Beach – another awesome south Maui beach in Wailea. No facilities or lifeguards, but the snorkeling is awesome. Although the water was a bit cloudy on our last trip as the wind was blowing and the waves were bigger than on previous trips.

Northern Pixel Photography Destination Wedding Canadian

#5 – Honolua Bay – the beach itself is rocky and not like the other beaches on the list. But the snorkeling (in the summer months) is amazing, with the clearest water I have seen on Maui (although I still havent been out to Molokini). In the winter months it becomes a very popular surfing location. Whether you want to snorkel or not, its worth the trip to enjoy the view and walk through the forest. But dont leave anything in your car, as there seems to be a lot of break-ins out there.

Snorkeling at Honolua Bay, Maui

#6 – Kamaole II Beach. Right across the road from our condo at the Maui Banyan, so we spent quite a bit of time here, and have a lot of great memories from this beach. It has been crowded on some days, and almost empty on others. But we have walked on the beach, explored the rocky point, and enjoyed the swimming, snorkeling, and boogie boarding. And of course it makes a great spot for watching the sunsets…

Kamaole Beach Sunset

#7 – Big Beach. We didnt get to spend a lot of time here on our latest trip. But what an amazing beach. And they have lifeguards here now too (last I heard anyhow). The waves can get very big though, so we haven’t swam here at all. But the sand is great and the sunsets are awesome.

Big Beach, Maui

#8 – Po’olenalena Beach. Another beach I wanted to spend more time at. There are two sides of the beach, and it did not seem too crowded both times I was there. Just around the corner from Palauea, so the snorkeling is supposed to be great as well (although the water was rough and not clear when I was there) Will be stopping here again next time for sure.

Maui Wedding Beach Top 10 Beaches

#9 – Hamoa Beach. Might have to spend a few nights in Hana on our next trip, so we can spend some more time at this amazing beach.

Hamoa Beach

#10 – Ka’anapaali Beach. I still didnt get a chance to snorkel Black Rock, so will have to keep this on my list for next time, based on my desire to spend some time more here. One of the most famous and popular beaches on the island of Maui.

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We had been to Honolua Bay during both of our previous trips, so we knew it was one of the places we had to visit again during our most recent trip in April 2011. The first time we stopped here we were amazed at the lush green rainforest you walk through on your way to the beach. We went snorkelling that day, and were very happy with the water clarity and number of fish.

On our second trip the surf was up. There were no snorkelers and a whole lot of surfers. The waves were quite big, so we did not even bother trying to enter the water.

So this time we were not sure what to expect. We brought our snorkelling gear though, and remained hopeful the water would be calm. We got to the pullout overlooking the Bay, and were very happy to see that not only was it calm, but the charter boats were anchored and lots of people were in the water snorkelling:

Beautiful Honolua Bay

We then began to wonder whether or not we would be able to find a parking spot. There is no parking lot at Honolua Bay. You just have to find a spot along the edge of the road, which becomes rather difficult when it gets busy. One important thing to remember is that you should not leave anything in your car. When we returned to our car we found that the car directly across the road from ours had gotten its windows smashed. A police officer was there talking with them, and we overheard that they had some fairly valuable stuff stolen. Apparently break-ins are quite frequent here.

The forest you walk through on your way to the shoreline is pretty amazing, worth the trip on its own even if you dont go in the water:
Honolua Forest

Tropical Forest at Honolua Bay, Maui

Trail to the beach:
Walking down the path to Honolua Bay, Maui

We took everything we had brought along for the day down to the beach with us. Shauna wasn’t interested in snorkelling, so she sat on the beach and watched all of our stuff. She did have some company though:
Beach cat

I should also mention that the ‘beach’ at Honolua is a lot like many of the beaches we saw on the Big Island… lots of rocks and not a lot of sand…

The rocky beach at Honolua Bay

But we were not here to enjoy the sand, so we headed out into the water. Like many beaches, the water closest to shore is not very clear. But once you get out away from the shoreline it begins to get better and better. I had read that the right side of the bay has some of the best snorkelling on the island of Maui, so we headed that way to check it out. Once we got past the tour boats the water became very clear:

And this one out a bit further:
Needle-fish

I was really keeping an eye out for turtles, since this was only our second time in the water, and we had not seen any at this point in the trip. We never did see any turtles, but the variety of fish was quite impressive:

Parrotfish

Puffer Fish

After a while we decided it was time to head back to shore. It was approaching lunch time and we figured Shauna would be getting bored back on shore. It turns out she was having a great time. There were a few cats wandering the beach, one of which decided to stop and have a nap beside her.

As we were swimming back towards shore, I decided to swim along the edge of the coral where the water drops off and gets quite a bit deeper. I figured there would be a better chance of seeing turtles and other various marine life we had not seen in the shallower water. But of course I would never have imagined the sight that suddenly appeared before me:

Honolua Shark

It was about six feet long, and resting on the bottom about twenty-five to thirty feet down. I looked up to show my mom and brother, however they were a little ways ahead of me with their heads down snorkelling, and did not see or hear me. I snapped a few quick photos and continued on my way. It was resting in a crevasse among the coral, and I was happy that it did not seem interested that I was there. There was a Fish of Hawaii book back at the condo which I used to decide this was a Grey Reef Shark. The book had all the shark species that are found in Hawaiian waters, and I really enjoyed looking through it. Since the water was pretty deep, and it was sitting in a fairly dark crevasse, the photo did not turn out the clearest. But from the photo and the vision that was etched into my memory, this shark did not have any black or white tips on the fins, and the fin shape/size did not seem to fit any of the other descriptions. It was pretty amazing to see in the ocean, and not just an aquarium tank like all the sharks I had seen before.

Photo of Honolua from above:

Honolua Snorkeling

Looking at the rest of my snorkelling photos from our trip, the water at Honolua was by far the clearest of the places we tried. I still have not been out to Molokini though, and hear that it is even better. I just can’t work myself up to paying for a snorkel tour, when I have been able to have such a great time swimming from shore. My mom, brother, and I are all very good swimmers though, so I would recommend taking a snorkel charter boat if you are not comfortable swimming about the Pacific Ocean. And of course you should always check the ocean conditions before you go. As we got farther out into the bay we did notice a current pulling us out towards Molokai, which was a definite reminder we were not swimming in conditions similar to the lakes back home.

Looking back towards the rocky beach:

View of the Beach at Honolua

After we got out of the water we headed back to Napili Beach for lunch at the SeaHouse Restaurant, before heading back up the Northwest Coastline past Honolua. It was one of my favourite days of the entire trip. Here is a view of the water at Honolua looking down from the far side of the bay as we returned from the Nakalele Blowhole:

Honolua Bay

I really wanted to get back up to the water at Honolua for a second time during our trip. But since it is a good hour’s drive from our condo in Kihei we were not able to fit it into the rest of our busy plans. I would have spent the entire trip snorkelling if I could have, but there were so many other things to see and do on the island.

If you have the time, are in the area, and can pack light (don’t leave anything in the car) then I would absolutely recommend checking out the water at Honolua Bay. I should also mention that this is one place I would consider taking a charter tour, to avoid having to worry about the car being broken into. The snorkelling is definitely worth it – at least in the summer months when the water is calm. In the winter months I will stick to watching the surfers from the lookout above.

Snorkel Boat at Honolua Bay, Maui

Snorkeling at Honolua Bay, Maui

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Maluaka Beach was one of my favorite places to snorkel during our previous trip. So of course it was the first beach we went to swim at. The beach is located in south Wailea, on the island of Maui. The Makena Beach and Golf Resort is the only resort at this beach. Looks like an amazing place, but much like the other Wailea resorts is pretty pricey.

Maluaka Beach

The waves were a bit bigger this time, and the water was not quite as clear as it was on our last trip. But we had a great time here once again. A number of the charter snorkel tour boats bring their customers here, usually after their morning snorkel stop at Molokini. Since my brother and I are good swimmers, we had no problems with swimming out to where the boats anchor.

The first day we came here, I was really happy with all the different kinds of fish. No turtles hough, but I still had a great time in the water. This was the first time I was able to try out my new Canon D10 underwater camera as well. I was pretty nervous to put it in the water at first, but quickly learned to trust that it would be fine doing what it was made for – taking pictures while snorkeling.

Here is a large school of yellow-stripe goatfish that was swimming around. I wasnt sure if there were a few schools of them, or if I just kept seeing the same school as I swam about the reef:

School of Goatfish

I also saw a bunch of Moorish Idols, and was happy with the way the water’s surface showed up in this photo:
Moorish Idols

As you can see here, the water was not the clearest. Visibility was still quite good however, and the colors of the coral showed up quite well:
Maluaka Coral

We tried out Palauea a few days after the first trip to Maluaka, but the visibility was not good at all. So we decided to head back to Maluaka. I am not sure why, but it was still relatively clear once again. We had not gone too far out when we finally spotted a turtle lying on the bottom. It just layed there looking up at us, and had a fair bit of sand on top of it – so it must have been there for a while:

First Turtle of the Trip

We continued swimming out towards the tour boats, figuring the water would keep getting clearer as we got further from shore. It stays relatively shallow for quite a distance from the shore, providing lots of great reef to observe. As we got closer to the boats, the number of snorkelers began to increase. I heard someone about thirty feet ahead, in the direction we were swimming, say they had spotted a turtle. It was a younger child, and his siblings/parents did not seem to believe him as he was the only one in the group to spot it. All of the sudden it swam right in front of me, and only five feet away. Luckily I was swimming with my camera on, and I was able to get a quick photo:

Green Sea Turtle

I turned to try and find my brother, to make sure he was looking as well. But he was heading off in the other direction, and did not realize it was there. I got one more photo as it continued swimming off towards the bottom:

Swimming Away

By this time we were getting quite a long way from the shore where we had started. Although we did get a pretty sweet view of the black sand beach located between Maluaka Beach and Little Beach. But the current was starting to pick up a bit, as were the waves. So we figured we should start making our way back to the beach. We saw a lot of different fish along the way back to shore as well. But no more turtles. I had hoped to get back one more time before we left, but just ran out of time.
View of the black sand beach:

Makena Black Sand Beach

Overall I was very happy with the new underwater camera. I read a lot of reviews, and checked a lot of the groups on Flickr, to try and figure out which brand offered the best options. All of our other cameras are Canon, so I was searching rather hard to try and find one that might be able to top the Canon D10. In the end, I decided I really liked the photos and color produced by the D10, so decided to stick with the Canon. You definitely have to take care of the seals though. I noticed a few times when I was cleaning it that a few small sand particles were trying to stick to the seal. One thing I was worried about was the number of reviews from all of the various brands that mentioned their camera had flooded and no longer worked. But my D10 survived the trip, and I look forward to using it again in the future.

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Here is a top ten list of my favorite Maui Beaches. They are slightly biased towards south Maui since we stayed in Kihei. Each person might have a different view depending where they stay. But you will find some amazing beaches no matter where you are on the Island of Maui. Anyhow here is my list of Maui beaches…

#1 – Secret Cove Beach:

Secret Cove Maui SunsetProbably not the number one Maui beach for many people – except for those who were married there. But this is my list, so Secret Cove Beach gets bumped to the top.  Although you probably won’t spend much time there without the whole wedding thing. It is rather small, and not a great swimming beach. But it is definitely a great beach for weddings and for photography. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#2 – Maluaka Beach:

Maluaka Beach, MauiAs far as swimming beaches go, Maluaka one was definitely my favorite on the island. If we did not get married at Secret Cove Beach, this would likely be at the top of the list. Great scenery, great sand, great water, and the snorkeling is amazing. Lots of turtles and fish – it is one of the Turtle Town’s the charter boats take you to. If cost was not an issue, there is good chance we would stay at the Makena Resort just to stay at this beach. But I don’t see the point of spending all that extra cash to stay in Wailea, when it is just a short drive down the road from Kihei. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#3 – Palauea Beach:

Palauea Beach, Maui

Yet another amazing South Maui beach. Palauea Beach has great scenery, sand, water, and snorkeling – similar to Maluaka beach above. I saw a lot of turtles here as well – it is known as Turtle Town as well. The visibility wasn’t as good on the days we were here as it was at Maluaka, but I am sure that changes a lot depending on the time of year and season. But it is pretty hard to go wrong with either one of Maui’s Turtle Town’s. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#4 – Big Beach:

Big Beach, MauiBig beach is another of the great South Maui beaches. Would probably be higher on my list if it wasn’t for the dangerous shorebreak that makes it nearly impossible to swim here. Although the day I took the photo above the waves were pretty calm. There were a few people swimming and even some snorkelers as well. I even saw a few turtles from up where the photo was taken. (which also doubles as the trail to Little Beach) The waves at Big Beach were crashing loudly most other days we were here; it was impressive to see. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#5 – Kamaole II Beach:
Kamaole II Beach Panoramic

Kamaole II Beach is another beach that might not be near the top of many people’s lists. But since we stayed across the street at the Maui Banyan, we spent a lot of time here. So we have a lot of great memories from this beach. We did a lot of swimming, and the snorkeling was pretty good too – especially around the rocky point shown above. And we got a bit of boogie boarding in as well. There was one day we even saw some whales leaping out of the water off in the distance. If you would like to read more you can check out my post here.

#6 – Napili Beach:

Napili Beach, MauiNapili Beach just seems like a great place to spend the day. The water looks so clear, and everyone there was having a great time. If we ever stay in West Maui, it will be at one of the resorts along Napili Beach. It was one of my first choices when we were researching for our wedding trip of 2008. But we just couldn’t justify spending twice the amount to stay here compared to sunny Kihei – especially with the wedding to pay for. But it was certainly worth the drive to check it out. We plan to visit again on our next trip.

#7 – Honolua Bay:

Honolua Bay, MauiHonolua Bay is another great Maui snorkeling location. When we visited in 2008 this was one of the few calm snorkel locations on the island. But in 2009 only the surfers were there. There is no sand along the shoreline, but we were there to snorkel, and you can always find more fish along the rocky areas anyhow. The visibility along the shoreline wasn’t the best. But once you get out a bit things get much better – especially along either side of the bay. We saw lots of fish here, and an octopus too. No turtles though, but apparently there are some in the area. During our visit in 2008 there were even a few charter boats there, which seemed like a great way to see the West Maui coast, and might be worth looking into for next time.

#8 – Black Sand Beach at Wainapanapa State Park:

Black Sand Beach, Maui This Black Sand Beach is a long way from where most people spend most of their time, but a black lava sand beach really is worth the drive, especially along the scenic Hana Highway. I look forward to spending more time here on our next trip. Although I don’t think it is a very good swimming beach – it looked pretty rough. But what a great beach for taking photos. And there are some trails on either side that I am hoping to explore next time as well.

#9 – Ho’okipa Beach:

Ho'okipa Beach, MauiHo’okipa Beach doesn’t seem to be a great swimming beach, but it is known as one of the best windsurfing beaches in the world. The lookout above the beach makes for a great place to watch and take some photos. Definitely worth checking out. We even saw some turtles popping up for air amongst the surfers.

#10 – Ka’anapali Beach:

I will have to get a photo for Ka’anapali Beach during our next trip. We only stopped here briefly on our 2008 wedding trip. But what an scenic beach it is. The sand just seems to keep going and going. Definitely another one we plan to spend more time at on our next trip to Maui. It is very popular, and usually ranked a lot higher on most people’s lists. But since we didn’t spend much time there it will have to be lower on this list – at least until next time.

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My second favorite spot to snorkel was Palauea Beach, also known as White Rock. It is another one of Maui’s Turtle Towns. I had to swim out a bit farther at this beach before I saw any turtles, but there was certainly plenty to see along the way with lots of fish and coral to check out.

Palauea Beach is located on Makena Road, just south of the Fairmont Kea Lani. Parking is along the roadside, and will be obvious once you see all the other cars parked. As with anywhere, make sure not to leave any valuables in your car.

I should also mention that there are no facilities or lifeguards here, so be sure to use your own facilities before you get there. And if you are not a strong swimmer, then one of the charter tours is probably a better bet.

I swam out starting from the rocks in the foreground and headed to the left. It had rained a quite a bit when we first arrived, so the water was a bit murky. But the visibility was quite good towards the end of our trip once the weather improved, with lots of fish and turtles.

Hawaii Stitch8627_editAccording to the Maui Revealed guidebook, the rocks near the top of the photo are also good snorkeling. I didn’t get the chance to compare the two sides though. I guess that will have to be a goal during my next visit as I cannot wait to check out the water here again…

And while I was snorkeling, Shauna was busy taking some great photos:
sand lines

Once again if you are not a strong swimmer, or do not like the thought of swimming at a beach with no lifeguards, then you should probably check out the charter tours as a way to experience the snorkeling at one of Maui’s Turtle Towns. Better safe than sorry when dealing with the ocean. The photo below shows the area I explored the most. Much of the best snorkeling was out closer to the charter boat.

Palauea Beach, Maui

I found a great website for checking out the ocean conditions around Maui, and the other islands as well. It has aerial photos, beach descriptions, hazard ratings, and of course surf conditions. I would recommend checking it out before heading into the water so you know what you are up against.

During our next visit to Maui, I am also hoping to check out Molokini. I want to see if it really is that much better than the snorkeling along the shoreline. I would like to find a tour that doesn’t go to Turtle Town though, since I have found how to reach two of them from shore (Palauea and Maluaka). For the price of a charter tour I would like to spend as much time at Molokini as possible, and skip the areas I can get to from shore on my own.

If you would like to check out some additional photos of Palauea beach (and other sites on Maui) Shauna has posted some on her Flickr account here.

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Maluaka beach is a great place to snorkel, my favorite on the island of Maui. It is just south of Wailea in front of the Makena Beach and Golf Resort (formerly the Maui Prince). Public access points are found at either end of the beach.

To get to the North end you can turn onto Honoiki Road just past the 2.5 mile marker, then left onto Makena Road. There is a parking lot with a restroom and showers across the road. Although we avoided the showers since they seemed to be a hangout for bees.

Access to the south end is just past the 3.5 mile marker on Makena Alanui Road. As with many of the popular beaches in the area, parking seems to fill up pretty fast, so it helps to get there early if possible.

Apparently Maluaka Beach is one of the turtle towns found on Maui, which explained why it was so busy. I am a good swimmer, so I had no problems with swimming this area from shore.  But of course, you should only swim where you are comfortable, and check out the ocean conditions prior to swimming, or talk to a lifeguard. If you click on the ocean conditions link it will take you to a great website with beach description, aerial photos, hazard ratings, and surf conditions.

I certainly saw a lot of turtles here, and lots of fish as well. Next time I am going to make sure to bring a waterproof camera. The water is very clear so it would be easy to get some great photos…

Looking south along Maluaka Beach

20090406_0251Southern end of the beach, where I saw many turtles. As with Palauea Beach much of the best snorkeling is out near the charter boat in the photo below:

20090411_785The photo below shows the Northern end of the beach. You can see a nice opening in the reef which makes a great access point. I swan out to the edge and went left parallel to the shoreline. I ended up coming out towards the middle of the beach, and walked back to this end where I had started.

IMG_7313

Overall, this was one of our favorite beaches on all of Maui. It had everything we wanted: good scenery, great snorkeling, and was great for taking photos. It was fairly busy with the resort in the middle, parking lots on both ends, and charter tours stopping as part of their trip from Molokini, but that can only be expected for one of the best snorkeling beaches on Maui. It was well worth checking out, and we will certainly spend a lot of time here on our next trip.

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Kamaole II beach is located in South Kihei, right across the road from the Maui Banyan condos where we stayed. So of course we ended up spending a fair bit of time there. It was relatively quiet most of the time, and we always enjoyed our time there. It was a great beach for all the usual beach activities: laying in the sun, swimming, snorkeling, and even a bit of boogie boarding. We also got to do a bit of whale watching one day, and saw some giant whales leaping out of the water on the horizon. It was very neat to see from shore. But we couldn’t time the photos right, so weren’t able to get any good shots of them jumping.

We also enjoyed looking around on the rocky point between Kamaole II and Kamaole III. You get a great view from out there, and there were even a few small tide pools to look at. I enjoyed snorkelling around the rocky point, and saw some pretty good schools of fish there.

Quite often there were fishermen on the rocks in the morning and evenings, although I didnt get a chance to join them. Maybe next time…

Here is a Panoramic shot of Kamaole II beach looking South, showing the rocky point between the two beaches:

Kamaole II Beach, Maui

Kamaole II Beach looking North towards the mountains of West Maui:

2008 04 13 017

We took a lot of photos during the many great sunsets we saw at Kamaole Beach II:

20090412_439

Maui Sunset

There is also a nice trail which joins Kamaole I, II, and III, which was great for those in our group who liked to go for morning or evening walks. We were usually more interested in just hanging out at the beach though, so we didn’t use the trail.

Overall we were very happy staying so close to such a good beach. It was only a three minute walk from our condo unit at the Maui Banyan, which you can read the full review for here.

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