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Posts Tagged ‘turtle town’

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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