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The Most Magical Thing About Maui

There’s no way to overstate the serenity and excitement of snorkeling in Maui. Snorkeling with green sea turtles from shore. Tropical fish. Colorful reef. It’s truly amazing.

In a world of smart phone entertainment, snorkeling offers an authentic interaction with Hawaii’s natural beauty. 

Animated graphic of a turtle in the ocean

Snorkel Snapshot

This guide will help you get the hang of snorkeling during your first 15 minutes in the water so you can become a confident snorkeler for a lifetime. Here’s how it’s done:

The ABC’s

  • A. Check the conditions
  • B. Find a buddy
  • C. Get the good stuff

The 123’s

  • 1. Wade Into The Water Waist Deep (Carry Your Gear)
  • 2. Do A Front Float
  • 3. Make A Plan With Your Buddy
  • 4. Explore The Ocean
  • 5. Connect Often
  • 6. Return To Shore

Pre Snorkel ABCs Graphic

Back At The Hotel

Maui has more swimmable beaches than any other Hawaiian island, but you’ve got to know where to go. 10 minutes of preparation will ensure you get to see turtles and fish on your adventure.

A. Always Use Quality Gear

Comfortable, custom-fit gear makes all the different in the water. You don’t need the “top of the line” set, but make sure to get the good stuff.

  • Cheap snorkel sets often leak around the mask
  • Get snorkels with dry-mouth technology—they purges water away from your mouth automatically

Graphic of The Snorkel Report

B. Find a buddy

The beauty of the underwater is meant to be shared. Snorkel with a friend to create unforgettable memories together and to ensure your safety.

  • Awe inspiring underwater experiences are best shared with a partner
  • Ocean safety requires snorkeling with a friend

Aerial view of people snorkeling in Maui Hawaii

C. Check The Conditions

Maui’s ocean conditions change from day to day. Sign up for the Maui Snorkel Report so you’ll know which beaches are best for snorkeling each morning.

  • Select at least 1 backup beach
  • Get your free beach map. We’ll circle the best snorkel spots near your lodging on a free beach map in the store

Photo of woman viewing a turtle

Let’s See Some Turtles!

Maui’s tropical underwater universe is 15 minutes away. But first let’s learn to breath through a snorkel underwater.

We’ve found that practicing your breathing in waist deep water for 15 minutes is the best way to become comfortable snorkeling for the rest of your life.

Graphic saying "Wade in Waist Deep"

Carry your snorkel set into the water

Putting on fins is awkward enough. Walking in fins is completely unnecessary. Wrap your float belt around your waist (if you are using one), and carry your snorkel set into the ocean, waist deep.

Once you’re in the water, place your mask on your face, not too tight, with the strap high at the back of your head. Your buddy comes in handy now. Balance against your partner as you put on your fins.

Folks on Maui Beach with Snorkel Rentals from The Snorkel Store

Graphic saying "Do a front float"

practice breathing and kicking

The next 15 minutes you’ll learn to snorkel. If you can become comfortable breathing in shallow water you’ll do well at greater depths with the fish and turtles.

Place your face in the water and practice breathing through your snorkel. Breathe slowly and steadily—this should become relaxing after a while. If your breathing speeds up, continue to practice in shallow water.

There’s absolutely no rush.

Do a front float and begin to kick with your fins. Place your arms at your sides and use your legs for movement. Keep your legs straight like scissors and kick slowly and steadily from the hip (here’s a tutorial on kicking with fins).

Photo of people snorkeling

Graphic saying "Make A Plan"

select a landmark

You’re about to become pioneers of the Pacific Ocean and it’s time to make a plan!  Scan the seascape, then select a landmark where you’d like to snorkel to with your buddy. Here are some common examples:

  • An outcropping of rocks
  • A certain section of beach
  • A spot where you can see another group of snorkelers gathering

Select a timeframe you intend to snorkel. Five minutes. Twenty minutes. It should be less than half an hour as you’ll need to rest after that much activity.

Return to shore for high-fives before heading back out.

Photo of Black Rock Maui Hawaii

Graphic saying "Explore the ocean"

snorkel with turtles

It really is all about the turtles. No exaggeration, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

You’ll also see schools of fish, beautiful coral reef and other sea creatures. But joining a group of 2 or 3 gentle sea turtles as they play in the waves and snack on algae is the holy grail of snorkeling.


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Photo of fish and coral reefs

Try to relax as you’re welcomed deep into the heart of Maui’s beautiful sea life. Find your own pace and explore an underwater universe on your own terms.

You can sometimes follow a turtle as it travels slowly from one section of the ocean to another. Keep a healthy distance of at least 6 ft. from the turtle as you snorkel.

Maui’s coral reef is alive, so always wear reef-safe sunscreen and avoid standing on it or touching the coral when possible.

If you accidentally touch the reef, or if a turtle swims within 6 ft. of you it’s not a big deal. Simply do your best to be a polite steward of the sacred Pacific Ocean.

Photo of kid snorkeling

Photo of person snorkeling and viewing turtles

Graphic saying "Connect Often"

Check In With Your buddy

Snorkeling in Maui is generally very safe. The Valley Isle actually has the most snorkel spots in all of Hawaii. You can find turtles and fish at even the most accessible beaches.

It’s still very important to check in with your  partner while you’re enjoying the ocean.

  • Ask your partner how he or she is feeling
  • Share stories about what you’ve seen
  • Follow the plan you created initially

Ocean safety and epic snorkeling experiences go hand and hand in Maui.

Photo of Yellow Tang in the Maui Ocean

Graphic Saying "Return to Shore"

Create a successful experience

When you’re doing something for the first time it’s important to create a simple success for yourself.

Even if you’re having the time of your life snorkeling (which you probably will be), return to shore at the time you set with your buddy. Here’s why:

  • You want to create a successful initial experience
  • 5 minutes rest will give you another 30 minutes of quality snorkeling
  • You’ll be able to share tips about the best spots to see turtles and fish, then return for even better snorkeling

Photo of Kapalua Bay on Maui Hawaii

A Lifetime Snorkeler

Snorkeling is like riding a bike. Once you get the hang of it you’ll know it forever.

The first 15 minutes of snorkeling is most important because you’ll learn to breath underwater while relaxed. Practice breathing through your snorkel and kicking with fins in shallow water.

Snorkeling among green sea turtles is one of the most rewarding activities on the planet. Create a positive first experience in the ocean, and you’ll become a confident snorkeler for the rest of your life.

Quick Links to snorkeling resources

Photo of person snorkeling

Photo of fish and coral reef

Aerial Photo of people snorkeling next to a boat

Aerial photo of Kapalua Bay Maui Hawaii