Honolua Bay is a marine conservation area at the northern tip of West Maui and is considered the best snorkeling destination on the entire island. The crystal clear waters reveal thriving coral gardens visible from even great distances.
Even if you are not interested in exploring the bay’s underwater world, I strongly believe it is worth stopping at the viewpoints nearby.
Honolua Bay is a beautiful sight to behold any time of day when the sun is out and, as a professional landscape photographer, I consider it one of the best places in Maui for photographing sunset.
In this guide, I will explain everything you need to know to prepare for your first visit to Honolua Bay. This includes nearby services, recommended tours (optional), best times to visit, exact locations, directions, photos, and more.
🏝 Honolua Bay Overview
Honolua Bay is a small cove in West Maui that is world-renowned as a premier snorkeling destination and a popular surf spot (although not simultaneously!)
Snorkeling prevails when the ocean is calm, but when the swell is up you can expect to see plenty of surfers here.
It is a Marine Life Conservation Area that protects the myriad of aquatic creatures and coral gardens that call it home. With fishing being illegal here, the fish population is thriving and you will encounter huge schools of vibrant, tropical fish, as well as turtles.
Make sure you pack your beach shoes and snorkel gear! The beach has no sand but is comprised instead of bulbous rocks.
There are two viewpoints that provide spectacular vistas for admiring the clear, turquoise water and lush greenery of West Maui.
Snorkeling tours at Honolua Bay are a popular option for visitors short on time and equipment. However, the park is public and can be accessed without permits or tours.
- Nearest Town: Kapalua
- Parking? Small parking lot at northern entry and streetside parking.
- Public Bathrooms? Portapotties at parking lot.
- Picnic Benches? No.
- Showers? No.
- Grills? No.
- Lifeguard? No.
📍 How to Get to Honolua Bay Maui
With Navigation: Using Google Maps, set your GPS to “Honolua Bay Access Trail” and look for street parking nearby (it can be very busy).
General Directions: Drive north along the Honoapiilani Hwy past the town of Kapalua. Just after turnoffs for Slaughterhouse Beach, you will find a large parking area for the first Honolua Bay Lookout. The first access trail is 0.2-miles further, and the second is another 0.4 miles beyond this.
You will find roadside parking along the Honoapiilani Hwy, as well as a small lot at the second (northern) access trail.
Alternatively, you can park in the lookout parking if you prefer the ease of it and don’t mind the extra quarter-mile of walking.
🌅 When to Visit Honolua Bay Maui
If you are visiting Honolua Bay with snorkeling in mind, the best time to visit is in the morning and early afternoon, when the water is typically calm, on a clear sunny day.
Having overhead light makes a notable difference in your underwater visibility, especially when filming or photographing.
Sunset is also a great time to visit. The view from the 2nd overlook provides an elevated and obstructed westward view with a beautiful foreground.
🐢 Honolua Bay Snorkeling Tours
At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any bookings made using the links below.
As perhaps the best snorkeling spot on Maui, Honolua Bay is a popular place for snorkeling tours.
It is worth noting that many tours do not list their exact snorkel locations as they will choose the destination dependent on weather and ocean conditions.
Below are some of the top-rated snorkel tours to Honolua Bay:
- Honolua Bay Snorkel Sail from Lahaina: 5/5 ⭐
Explore Honolua Bay and one other snorkel spot on this 6-hour tour with a certified marine naturalist. As well as enjoying the incredible aquatic life, indulge in breakfast and a BBQ lunch aboard.
- West Maui Half Day Snorkel from Ka’anapali Beach: 5/5 ⭐
Explore two snorkel spots, chosen on the day for the best snorkeling, where you can swim alongside green sea turtles, tropical fish, and vibrant coral reef. This half-day tour includes breakfast and lunch.
- West Maui: Snorkel & Performance Sail with Lunch: 4.8/5 ⭐
Departing from Lahaina, you’ll stop at two local favorite snorkel spots such as Olowalu, Honolua, and Mokuleia Bay, depending on where the best conditions are for the day. Enjoy breakfast and lunch onboard, as well as all refreshments including local beer, wine, and Mai Tais.
In addition to snorkeling tours, the below tours also include visiting Honolua Bay:
- Discovery Flight over Maui: 5/5 ⭐
For those that are looking for a truly unique, once-in-a-lifetime memory, this private scenic flight for up to three people is well worth considering. The 90-minute flight will have you soaring over Honolua Bay, as well as many other iconic sights on the island.
- Private Maui Tour: 5/5 ⭐
If you prefer to let someone else do the organizing, this private day tour is perfect. It’s fully customizable and can include multiple stops, including Honolua Bay.
🙋♀️ FAQs About Honolua-Mokuleia Bay
🥾 How long is the hike to Honolua Bay? Can you walk to the beach?
🤿 What is Honolua Bay known for?
🦈 Is Honolua Bay safe for snorkeling? Are there sharks?
🐠 What will you see snorkeling in Honolua Bay? Are there turtles?
🎟 Do you need to book a tour to snorkel in Honolua Bay?
📸 Honolua Bay Photo Gallery
As breathtaking as it is from the surface, there is a reason Honolua Bay is considered a world-class snorkeling destination in Maui.
These are some of my favorite photos captured throughout several visits to Maui. I feel they showcase Honolua Bay’s incredible natural beauty from above and below the tropical-blue water.
🏖 More Maui Travel Guides
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Before you go, you may want to skim some of the titles for other relevant Maui guides below to ensure you do not miss any epic beaches, sunset destinations, or noteworthy things to do during your visit to the Valley Isle!
- MAUI PACKING LIST: A printable essential packing list + 25 useful items to consider
- 7 DAY MAUI ITINERARY: How to see the entire island in one week
- WHERE TO STAY ON MAUI: The best places and areas to stay on the island
- PLANNING A TRIP TO MAUI: Step-by-step guide for planning your first visit to Maui
- ROAD TO HANA STOPS: The Top 25 places to visit on the Road to Hana
- ROAD TO HANA ITINERARY: How to plan for a 1-2 day self-drive.
- BEST MAUI PHOTO SPOTS: 15 best places for photographing Maui
- SECRET BEACHES OF MAUI: The 10 most incredible hidden beaches on the island
- MAUI SUNSETS: The Top 10 places & activities for watching sunset in Maui
- KIHEI BEACHES GUIDE: Photos, locations, and descriptions for all 15 beaches in Kihei
- BEST SNORKELING IN MAUI: Best snorkel spots, tips, tours, and more.