SEMI-PRIVATE SNORKEL TOUR

West Maui
Turtle Snorkel Tour

Sightsee Maui’s west coast on our semi-private small group Maui turtle snorkel tour. This afternoon snorkeling tour is for all level snorkelers. Receive snorkel instruction and the search for our favorite marine creature; Maui’s green sea turtle.

Tour Highlights

  • <18 Passengers Semi-Private Snorkel Tour
  • 2.5 Hour Snorkel Tour
  • 3 Certified Lifeguards onboard
  • Snorkel Instruction for Beginners
  • Snacks & Beverages

Adults (Ages 13+)$189

Kids (Ages 4-12)$169

Private charters available!

Snorkel with turtles along the west coast of Maui on our afternoon small group tour with <18 passengers.

Our 2.5 hour Maui Turtle Snorkel tour is Maui’s only semi-private small group snorkel tour. We depart from Lahaina and snorkel along Maui’s west coast. This tour is a short afternoon snorkel trip, giving you the rest of your day for other fun Maui activities.

This beginner friendly snorkel tour includes one-on-one snorkel instruction, 3 certified lifeguards onboard, marine naturalist education about turtles, snorkel gear, floatation devices, snacks and beverages. Other marine animal sightings may include octopus, rays, eels and more!

Enjoy a fun, small group boat cruise on our adventure vessels, snorkeling with tropical fish and looking for sea turtles near Maui.

What’s Included
  • Semi-Private Shared Snorkel Tour < 18 Passengers
  • 3 Certified Lifeguards onboard for safe snorkeling
  • 2.5 HR Afternoon Maui Coast Snorkel
  • Snorkeling for All Levels
  • Snorkel Instruction and flotation devices for beginners
  • Wetsuit tops available for rent $20
  • Snacks & Beverages
  • Marine Naturalist education

Gear up in clean and sanitized high quality snorkel gear included in the snorkel tour. Floatation devices including float belts and pool noodles for all level snorkelers. Short sleeve wetsuit tops available to rent at check-in for $20.

Our Marine Naturalist Lifeguard Guides will share educational information about Maui, snorkeling and turtles and will offer one-on-one snorkel instruction

Snacks: Sweet pastry and fresh fruit including watermelon and pineapple. Maui style potato chips and cookies.

Beverages: Soda, diet soda, green tea and water. BYOB adult beverages ok, please no glass containers.

What to Expect

Check-in at least 30 minutes prior to your snorkel tour. Our crew who are certified lifeguards will talk with you about your snorkel experience and fit you with quality snorkel gear. Boarding our small group vessel we leave from Lahaina and cruise along the west coast of Maui.

Our snorkel stop will include time in the water and snacks. Our marine naturalist will be in the water and act as as guide, pointing out unique marine life which may include tropical fish, sea turtles and more.

The 2.5 hour Afternoon Maui snorkel includes talking story with our marine naturalist crew and getting to know your fellow snorkelers before heading back to Lahaina!

What to Bring Snorkeling

Bring towels, hat, sunglasses, reef safe sunscreen or a sun shirt! BYOB ok, just no glass containers. Waterproof bag for personal items. Camera or Gopro for photos and videos. Gratuity for crew (Venmo accepted)

Departure & Directions
    • May-November 1pm Check-In for 1:30pm Departure

    Check-in at Dive Maui Shop, 1223 Front St, Lahaina. Parking at Longs at Lahaina Cannery Mall. Park and walk toward the ocean to Front Street. Make a left and walk over the bridge. The dive shop is on the right, next to Snorkel Bob’s blue building.

    Our temporary Lahaina location for our snorkel tour check-in is approximately 15 minutes from Kaanapali, Maui and 20 minutes from other West Maui locations including Kahana, Napili and Kapalua areas. Our snorkel tours are nearby for visitors staying in West Maui and also a great option for visitors staying on the south side of Maui (Kihei or Wailea) that want to venture to West Maui and explore the calm waters off the coast of Lahaina, Maui.

Vessels

Due to the loss of our rafts in the Lahaina fire, we will be temporarily operating these small group vessels for our snorkel tours.

    • Kai Oma’o 34′ Small Ocean Monohull <18 Passengers

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Policies & Participant Restrictions

Due to our style of vessel and activities, no children under 4 on tours, no pregnant or persons with back or neck injuries.

Please no spray sunscreen, rub on reef safe sunscreen is welcome!

At least 24 hour notice for cancellations and refunds. For parties of 5 or more, 72 hours notice is required.Private Charters require a 7 day cancellation notice for full refund.

Snorkel tours may be canceled or rescheduled by Hawaii ocean rafting due to capacity or weather. Turtles are wild animals. We do our best to find them but do not guarantee sightings.

Reserve your spot

Adults (Ages 13+)$149

Kids (Ages 4-12) $129

Private Charter$1,375

Kamaaina discount available with HI Driver License

Select Private Charter option or call direct to book.

“Best Snorkel Trip Ever!”

“Callen and Paul were fantastic. They both helped our private tour feel comfortable while rafting and snorkeling. The best part was that they scoped out private spots where we had reefs all to ourselves. Their knowledge and kindness helped me fall in love with snorkeling. Wish i could go back and spend more time with them. Highly recommend Hawaiian Ocean Rafting – local, small, superior knowledge.”


– P201fvcarac, TripAdvisor

“Lanai Morning Snorkel Trip!”

“Jill, Scott and Val were great guides and lots of fun. We went to two fantastic snorkeling spots and saw a huge pod of spinner dolphins up close. Highly recommended!”


-Keith_R-TripAdvisor

“Wonderful Experience Snorkel!”

“Such helpful guides, caring, knowledgeable about marine life and local history. Made all ages and ability levels feel comfortable and safe. We highly recommend this experience – it is worth every penny. We were able to swim with a sea turtle, boat alongside pods of spinner dolphins and watch many different species of fish in the awesome coral reef.”


-Nikole, Airbnb

Are you a beginner snorkeler?

Learn to snorkel with us!

One-on-One Instruction

Because our tours are small group, you
get one-on-one time learning how to
snorkel and use snorkel gear.

Certified Lifeguards Onboard

Our crew are all certified lifeguards.
This is a company policy to ensure you
have qualified guides while snorkeling.

Snorkel Support Gear

We offer high quality snorkel gear and additional floatation devices so you can relax and enjoy snorkeling.

Do you have to know how to swim to snorkel in Maui?

Yes, you do need to know how to swim before you snorkel. Most importantly , you need to learn to be comfortable in the ocean. If you have spent time in the ocean and would like to learn to snorkel this is the best snorkel tour to learn because our small group and snorkel instruction is facilitated by certified lifeguards. We also have float belts for beginner snorkelers to wear, allowing snorkelers to float on the surface while learning to snorkel. You do not want to wear life jackets while snorkeling because they are designed to float your face above the water, the floatation belt is a much better design for beginner snorkelers.

When should you not go snorkeling in Maui?

Don’t snorkel if you are alone. Always snorkel with a friend in case of equipment failure or feeling ill. Don’t snorkel right after rainfall if the water is murky.
Not only is there increased bacteria but murky water can lead to mistaken identity for predatory marine animals. Don’t snorkel if there is a swell or strong currents. The ocean is powerful and is to be respected and understood. Always follow advice from locals and signs posted along beaches. Joining a guided snorkel tour will ensure snorkel locations are the safest option and you always have someone snorkeling with you.

What’s the best weather for snorkeling in Maui?

Lahaina is also located on the leeward side of the West Maui Mountains, creating the most consistent and driest weather on the island of Maui. This means we have the most sunny days on Maui, making it the best place to snorkel in Maui! It often rains in Wailea or Kaanapali while dry in Lahaina. Because we are a tropical island, weather reports are rarely accurate more than 24 hours out and we use special NOAA and sailing weather reports to get the most accurate weather updates for our Maui snorkel destinations. With that in mind, we will reschedule Maui snorkel tours due to poor weather if it will be unpleasant or unsafe for our guests.

Are Maui Snorkel Tours for all-level snorkelers?

Yes! The best part about our Maui Snorkel Tours is that they are small-group rafting tours which means our crew gives one-on-one snorkel instruction, fits your gear to you and is in the water with you during the duration of the snorkel tour! We also provide flotation devices like float belts and pool noodles to assist beginner or experienced snorkelers. Our Maui snorkel tour is one snorkel stop along Maui’s coastal reefs, near shore and in shallow water, perfect for spotting tropical fish and looking for sea turtles. These spots are beginner-friendly depths and current and the best snorkel tour for first-time snorkelers.

Wildfire Impacted Business

Support Lahaina’s Recovery

Mahalo for your support this season, especially as we rebuild after the Lahaina fires! Your support of our small local business help our team of Lahaina and Maui locals get back to work and on the ocean to heal.

Maui

Turtles

Facts.

What to know about snorkeling
with turtles in Maui.

Are Turtles (Honu) in Hawaiian history?

The story of the sea turtles or honu begins with the hero Aiai turning his rock drawing into a turtle. The honu represents a deeply rooted connection with the ocean, land and people because it was made of land and put into the sea, returning to land to lay eggs and continue its life cycle. There are many legends of the honu in our Hawaiian culture. Some stories tell of sea turtles being the foundation for islands other they are rescuing, protecting or being a messenger to the people of Hawaii.

One legend tells us the giant turtle goddess Kauila who would protect and play with children (keiki) by transforming into a human girl.

Images of turtles can be seen in many Hawaiian artifacts, petroglyphs and cultural representations. Evenhula incorporates movements that reflect the honu laying and covering her eggs. Turtles were often seen as property of ali’i (chiefs) and were raised in fishponds and harvested for meat and shells.

Other families did not harvest the honu and instead believed the honu represented good luck, longevity and mana (spirit and energy). Honu are also ‘aumakua. In our Hawaiian culture. ’aumakua are spiritual guardians, guiding their ohana (family).

What Sea Turtle Species can you see in Maui?

Hawaii is home to several species of sea turtles. Three of these species of sea turtles are native to the islands. There are only a few sea turtles you may see while snorkeling, the most common is the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle.

Green Sea Turtles

Native to Hawaii and the most widely seen sea turtle is the Green Sea Turtles. Green sea turtles are the largest hard-shell sea turtle typically 3-4 feet long and can weigh up to 400 lbs. They have lighter underbellies with dark green or brown shells and small heads. Interestingly enough their name is in reference to their green fat on their outer color. This species is the only herbivorous sea turtle, typically eating algae and seagrass.

Green sea turtles begin reproducing between 2-5 years old and reach maturity around 25-35 years, living as long as 70 years. Sea turtles return to beaches near their hatching location to lay more than 100 eggs. After 2 months, baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean from their sandy nest. You can determine the gender of green sea turtles by the length of their tails. Green sea turtles can be found all over the world and were added to the threatened species list in 1978 due to being over harvested and entanglements caused by fishing line, nets and trash and changes of habitat. Remember to follow snorkel with turtle guidelines listed below to help protect this endangered species.

Hawksbill Sea Turtles

Hawksbill sea turtles have a pointed hawk-like beak that helps them extract sponges, one of their favorite foods, from coral reefs. With the species declining more than 80% in the last century, it is estimated there are less than 100 female Hawksbill turtles in Hawaii which is why they are considered endangered and are protected. The majority of Hawksbill sea turtles are found on Big Island due to their nesting locations, but some can be seen on Maui, although it is rare.

Hawksbill can grow in length similar to the green sea turtle (2-4 feet) but only reach a weight of 200lbs. Also hard-shelled, this species has a colorful shell, patterned with a combination of shades of black, brown, amber, orange, red and yellow. They are much lighter in color than green sea turtles.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Although Loggerhead sea turtles are the most abundant sea turtles in the U.S., there are very few spotted in Hawaii. It is believed the population seen in Hawaii are those that nest on the sandy beaches of Japan. Carnivorous sea turtles, Loggerhead have a slow growth and reproduction, reaching sexual maturity around 20-30 years. In contrast with green sea turtles, Logger- head have a large head (hence their name) and a heart-shaped shell of reddish-brown color on top and light yellow on the bottom. Loggerhead sea turtles also have a special ability to drink sea water and “cry” out the salt through salt glands near their eyes. Because of their population decline, Loggerhead sea turtles are currently on the threatened list under the Endangered Species Act.

Leatherback

Coming in at 6 feet and 1000 lbs, Leatherback sea turtles are the largest sea turtles. While green sea turtles are the largest hard-shell sea turtles, leatherbacks do not have scales and instead sport a shell made of layers of dermal bones beneath their dark leathery skin. This endangered species can dive as deep as 400 feet, holding their breaths for more than an hour, hunting for jelly fish and other soft bodied prey. There is much unknown about Leatherback sea turtles. Although they growth quickly, researchers are unsure when they reach sexual maturity or what their life span is. They do know Leatherback sea turtles are the only species that remain pelagic and eat a carnivorous diet as they mature into adulthood. Leatherback sea turtles are on the critically endangered list in many countries and the U.S.

Where can you Snorkel with Turtles in Maui?

Our Maui snorkel tours take snorkelers to the top west Maui snorkel spots to see turtles.

The secret to finding the best places to snorkel with turtles is understanding turtle behavior, feeding locations and where their cleaning stations are located. Cleaning stations are places where turtles rest and have fish clean the algae from their shells. Often these stations will host multiple sea turtles resting, making it a great location to sea turtles while snorkeling.

Our top locations to snorkel with turtles in Maui are Olowalu Reef, Honolua Bay and Mala Wharf, all locations we visit on our afternoon Maui snorkel tours.

It is always important to follow protection regulations when snorkeling with sea turtles to keep them safe and continuing their daily habits. See our tips in the next section for how to snorkel with sea turtles.

How to Respectfully Snorkel with Sea Turtles?

Give them Space

While snorkeling with sea turtles do not approach closer than 10 feet. This helps give them space to return to the surface to breathe and go about their normal behaviors of eating. If a turtle approaches you closer while snorkeling, respectfully and slowly move away from them. Turtle “yawning” or a flipper swipe toward you can be indicators that you are disturbing the turtle. Calmly snorkeling with little splashing will create an environment that marine animals can better relax in.

Pay attention to your proximity and bring an underwater camera that has a zoom so you can capture those awesome turtle moments respectfully. Harassing sea turtles can lead to a $100,000 file and even jail time.

Protect Turtle’s Habitat

While snorkeling you can protect their habitat by never standing on coral reefs. Only use reef safe sunscreen free of Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Meradimate. Padimate, or Sulisoben- zone. Select a reef safe sunscreen that has Zinc or mineral ingredients or wear a sunshirt for protection.

Help Injured Turtles

If you come across a turtle while snorkeling that has a fishing line, entangled or shows any sign of injury, stay near the turtle and send someone to shore to contact NOAA hotline at (888) 256-9840. Wait for dispatched professionals to free the turtle to ensure the turtle is not injured further and you are not harmed in the process as well by a turtle’s sharp beak, fish hook or nearby predators. Preventative measures can be taken by living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Where are the best places to snorkel on Maui near Lahaina?

Our afternoon Maui snorkel tour is a great snorkel tour or for beginner snorkelers or snorkelers looking for a shorter afternoon snorkel tour with a chance to snorkel with turtles. We depart from Lahaina Harbor and head either south or north along Maui’s west coast, snorkeling at locations that have the best ocean conditions such as wind, swell and current for that day. Here are our top picks for best places to snorkel on Maui.

Olowalu Snorkel Spot

Olowalu Reef is one of the oldest and largest coral reef structures in Hawaii. More than 100 acres of coral reef, Olowalu is home to many species of fish, turtles, ray, sharks and other marine life, making it one of the best places to snorkel in Maui. Located at the base of the west Maui mountains, protecting this snorkel bay from most weather, making the water clear and calm, great for all levels of snorkeling. Because the depth of the water is very shallow from shore, snorkeling this spot from land can be difficult as you need to avoid walking on or touching the reef to preserve its health. Accessing this snorkel spot from a boat is the best option to protect you and the rest and find the best snorkel spots with tropical fish and turtles.

Mala Wharf Snorkel Spot

Considered west Maui’s “Turtle Town ”, Mala Wharf is a unique man made reef that is home to dozens of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. This spot was once a commercial pier where pineapples were loaded onto boats for shipping, but collapsed in a hurricane. Now the collapsed peer serves as an underwater reef for dozens of marine animal species including tropical fish, turtles, rays, octopus and even reef sharks. This spot can be accessed from shore, but caution is advised as it is a working boat ramp and entering from shore is a very shallow reef. Snorkeling this spot from a boat is the best option, allowing you to snorkel at the main turtle resting area and avoiding the shallow reef and rocks along the shoreline.

Best places to snorkel on Maui north of Lahaina?

Honolua Bay Snorkel Spot

Honolua Bay is one of the best summer time snorkeling locations on Maui. Due to Maui’s swell patterns, surf will be big during winter months, often holding professional surfing contest at this unique bay. Honolua is a protected bay and in the summer months the water is crystal clear, making it one of Maui’s most popular snorkel spots. If you want to access this spot from shore you will walk through a narrow jungle path to a rocky beach and swim far into the bay. From the boat you start at the outermost reef and work toward the cliff, stopping at the turtle cleaning station to look for turtles and observe the dozens of tropical fish protected at this snorkel spot. Most of the reef along this bay is 15 feet deep or less, making it easy to snorkel along the colorful color and marine life.

Cliff House Snorkel Spot

Located near Kapalua Bay, Cliff House is a fun snorkel stop that has rocky cliffs along its shoreline, perfect for jumping into the crystal clear waters of Namalu Bay. Named for the Kapalua Cliff House struction that overlooks this bay, this snorkel spot teems with tropical fish, sea turtles and other marine life.

Snorkel one of these snorkel spots on our afternoon Maui snorkel tour. If you’re looking to venture away from Maui’s coast, check out our snorkel tours that venture to the island of Lanai for more snorkel stops and dolphin watching.

What does Hawaiian history say about Lahaina, Maui?

When Maui was formed, it was made by two volcanos, the eastern mountain now known as Haleakala and the western mountain called Iao Needle. These West Maui mountains protect the western coast of Maui from the elements of wind and rain, making it one of the warmest and calmest beach locations in Maui. In the heart of west Maui is Lahaina Town, named “cruel sun” for its dry and warm climate, ideal for water activities like fishing, snorkeling and surfing.

In the late 1700’s, Kamehameha conquered Maui as an effort to unite the Hawaiian islands as one kingdom. The battle in Iao Valley on the other side of the West Maui mountains led to a bloody end, but ultimately Kamehameha was successful.

Lahaina, Maui

Lahaina was a small fishing town before it was chosen as the royal capitol by King Kamehameha II in 1820. Many Hawaiian royals were buried in Lahaina, now the sacred cemetery of Wainee Church.

Historic Lahaina town holds history from days when it was a major sea port for whaler ships passing through the Pacific. You can explore historical sites on the Lahaina Town walking tour and learn about the start of the town and its well known harbor.

Today Lahaina is home to Lahaina Harbor and Mala Ramp, making it the highest grossing harbor in the state. Because of the consistent weather for water activities like snorkeling, and the seasonal migration of humpback whales, Maui will always be a popular destination for visitors.

Snorkeling

in Maui.

What to Know.

Maui’s west coast and Lahaina have
some of the best snorkel spots on island.

Related Snorkel Tours

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Afternoon Maui Turtle Snorkel

All level snorkeling along the west coast of Maui in search of tropical fish and sea turtles! Snacks and snorkel gear included.

Lanai Snorkel Tour

5 HOURSAGES 4+

$189+

Lanai Snorkel & Dolphin Watch

All level snorkeling to the island of Lanai. Dolphin watch and enjoy breakfast & lunch. Snorkel gear included.

Best spots in Maui to snorkel with turtles.

Snorkel Kihei Turtle Town or Lahaina Turtle Reef?
Let’s dive into all the snorkel details for Maui’s premier locations to snorkel with turtles.

Turtle Encounter Expectations

Hawaii’s green sea turtles are diurnal, which means they are active and resting day and night. While you may see a few sea turtles nesting onshore at select locations, you will more frequently see them while snorkeling. Green sea turtles are protected in Hawaii, so learning to respectfully encounter sea turtles is important.

Finding Turtles Near You

Turtle town is a popular term for several snorkel spot on the south side of Maui and with the sea turtle population growth, you can see them along every coast in Maui. Lahaina being home to one of Hawaii’s oldest and largest reef structure known as Ololwalu, makes the west coast a go-to destination for daily turtle sightings.

Weather’s Effect on Turtle Sightings

While sea turtles may not be affected much by the weather, sighting of them can be. If there is recent rain or surf, the water’s visibility may be poor and make it difficult to see turtles while snorkeling. Other ocean conditions like high surf may make it unsafe to enter the ocean to snorkel. Guided snorkel tours are the best way to see turtles safely in Maui.

Kihei Turtle Town or Lahaina Turtle Reef? Which snorkel destination is best for turtle sightings in Maui.

 

While many tours advertise Turtle Town as a destination snorkel location, it is a term that refers to many south-side snorkel spots with turtles, not a particular reef. South of Kihei, near Wailea in Makena is a beach called Maluaka, which is commonly referred to as Turtle Town. Many Molokini Snorkel Tours will visit this Turtle Town snorkel spot, Maluaka, as an additional snorkel stop on their trip. Maluaka beach isn’t the only turtle snorkel spot located in Makena. Makena is home to a natural marine reserve called Ahihi Kinau. As long as the surf isn’t up, this marine reserve is a great snorkel location to spot turtles. Keawakapu Beach in South Kihei is another popular spot on the south side of Maui that has lots of turtle sightings. The west coast of Maui, known as Lahaina, is home to many large reef systems, sandy beaches for turtle sunning and another marine reserve, Honolua Bay.

Olowalu Reef in Lahaina is also known as Turtle Reef because of its turtle cleaning stations and many turtle sightings. This reef is 450 acres and provides food and shelter to many marine animals in Lahaina. One of the benefits of snorkeling with turtles in Lahaina is the consistent weather this side of the island provides. The west Maui mountains create a lee that shelters Lahaina from most of the wind and weather the rest of the island receives, making it pleasant to be in or on the water all day long. Olowalu can be snorkeled from shore but it’s outer turtle cleaning stations are easiest reached by boat or kayak. Another Lahaina snorkel spot with many turtles is Honolua Bay. This marine reserve also is home to turtle cleaning stations where turtles congregate and fish clean the algae from their shells. You will also see tropical fish and sometimes octopus, barracuda and sharks here as well.

While you may see some sea turtles nesting or sunning on the warm sandy beaches of Maui, they spend the majority of their time underwater. Sea turtles can hold their breath for many hours and their eye-sight is much better underwater, making the ocean their first choice for feeding and resting. Green sea turtles which are the most frequently seen sea turtle in Maui are herbivores, unlike most sea turtles. This is why you will often see turtles nearshore because they are feeding on the algae. Sea turtles are an important part of our ocean’s ecosystem. It’s important to respect them as we observe them in the wild.

Tips for snorkeling with turtles in Maui.

1. Wear Reef Safe Sunscreen or a sun shirt. The chemicals in regular sunscreen are damaging to the reef and marine life in the ocean, and to you! A zinc or

mineral sunscreen is the way to go.

2. Keep a safe distance from sea turtles. Sea turtles have to return to the surface to breathe. If you are crowding them if can prevent them from breathing,

feeding and normal healthy behavior. Because sea turtles are protected in Hawaii, it is mandatory you give them space and do not touch them or crowd

them.

3. Be respectful and aware of the beach or location you are snorkeling at. Do your best to not leave any trace you were there. Always pick up your trash and leave native plants, reef and rocks untouched. Remember this island belongs to nature and to honor it by being eco-conscious.

4. Snorkel with a buddy will keep you safe in case of illness or gear malfunction, but it is also so much more fun to share turtle sightings with friends and share what you have learned about respectful snorkel practices to implement around turtles and other marine animals.

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Our mission is to provide a fun, authentic, aloha filled, Maui ocean experience that educates and inspires visitors to love and respect Hawaiian culture, the ocean and our island.

New Temporary Location: Dive Maui Shop, 1223 Front Street, Lahaina, HI 96761

Parking: Front Street or in Lahaina Cannery Mall parking lot.

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