We know that there are tons of different options out there for you to choose from. It is possible to become overwhelmed with all the different price options and vessel sizes. Some tours look like a great deal, even too good to be true. Many of these super cheap tours require you to sit through a time share pitch. Who has time for that? Your time is valuable too. Some tours even take you to snorkeling spots you could easily drive to and that doesn't make much sense. Do you really need a gift shop aboard your boat? Maui is covered with cool little shops, and you are there to snorkel! We would like to help you narrow it down by giving you two specific criteria to think about when choosing your tour.
This may not seem obvious but there are a few reasons that this can make a big difference in your experience. A smaller vessel is closer to the surface which makes interacting with and viewing dolphins much cooler and more personal. You will get better pictures of the dolphins and turtles if you are not 30 feet above water. Something else you may not have considered is that smaller vessels tend to be faster. Faster isn't just more fun it is more effective. Some of these large vessel tours take half the time meant for snorkeling and spending it travelling. Our rafts for example can zip across the channel between Maui and Lana'i quickly so you can spend more time snorkeling. Another benefit of smaller size is that it automatically limits group size. The experience is just more magical when you aren't snorkeling amidst 30-60 other snorkelers. A tour of 10 usually feels like family by the time you return to shore.
As previously mentioned, many of the larger slower tours actually take you to snorkeling spots on the road system. You probably already have a rental car so why pay again to go somewhere you could easily get to without a giant group. There is always Molokini which is crowded with boats and snorkelers all scrambling for a spot. The actual volcanic formation is very cool, but the snorkeling isn't the best. We suggest you look for a company that will take you to Lana'i. This is our specialty and here is why: Lana'i is an often-overlooked jewel. This giant private island is sparsely inhabited and is home to many dolphin species as well as some truly world class snorkeling. The variety in locations offered around the island are mind blowing as well as breath-taking. Avoid the crowds and veer from the beaten path. You will not be disappointed. Our tours are very popular, here’s why you should consider giving them as a gift!
They Will Never Guess What’s in This Box
You can book any of our tours well in advance and tuck the gift certificate in a beautiful card. We think it would be fun to wrap it up in a gift basket with some sunblock and a bright and fun Beach towel. Maybe this gift will be the first hint that a Maui vacation is in your loved one’s future! Any way you do it, whether it is a whale watching or snorkeling adventure, it will be a much unexpected surprise!
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Often times the novelty of a material gift wears off and the gift is put in a drawer or the back of the closet. Taking your loved one on an ocean adventure will create memories to last a lifetime. The gift of adventure is also fun for the giver (make sure you book yourself into the adventure, to keep the birthday girl/boy company). The thing about an adventure is that you never know exactly what to expect, you may get to swim with rays or bask in the raft as dolphins frolic all around. It’s just plain fun!
Budget Friendly Gift
You won’t find a more budget friendly one-of-a-kind gift out there (unless you make it yourself, and that can go any number of ways). Our half day snorkeling tour to the neighboring island of Lana’i includes all of the gear, food, beverages, and expert instruction all for under $80. Our whale watching tours are a full two hours of whale watching for just $33.47!
Finally, the photos! Bring an underwater camera along with your regular camera or phone and you will go home with a treasure trove of breath-taking birthday photos. Maui and Lana’i are home to some truly majestic coastlines that you can’t really appreciate from shore. As you depart the harbor you can capture the West Maui mountains in all of their glory. The birthday girl could blow one of these photos up to grace the walls of her home forever. Underwater is home to an unimaginable pallet of colors, coming alive with the tropical fish and living coral reefs.
While snorkeling in Maui is very safe for those that want to embark on this adventure, there are a few precautions you should keep in mind to protect both yourself and the marine life.
Wear Reef-safe Sunscreen
The most important thing is making sure that you are wearing reef-safe sunscreen and keeping a safe distance from the sea creatures that you encounter on your snorkeling adventure. A lot of mainstream and generic sunscreens have harmful chemicals that kill the reefs of the coastal shores of Maui. Not only that- but those chemicals can also be harmful to the life that inhabits those areas.
Luckily, due to mandates in Hawaii it is against legislation to wear sunscreens that contain these harmful chemicals making sanctioned reef-safe sunscreens easily accessible. However, there are still some wholesalers that carry those brands and label themselves as reef friendly. The best thing you can do is ask employees of the store, your accommodations, or your tour what are reef safe sunscreens and make sure that you purchase and/or apply those products. Look for sunscreen with ingredients made from Zinc or minerals only. If there are any chemicals with long names, don't buy it and always avoid spray sunscreen.
Don’t Touch the Animals
Another thing you need to keep in mind when going on a snorkel tour in Maui is to make sure that you are respecting everything in that environment. Beyond making sure that your sunscreen is not a threat to the coral reef you should be aware of how to protect the wildlife that inhabits it.
The biggest thing that you will be taught when embarking on your snorkel tour is not to approach too closely or touch any sea life that you may encounter. Most of us would assume that it would be a bad idea to touch a reef shark that is cruising on by– but many think it is ok to closely approach a turtle or a dolphin. There are federal regulations that protect both turtles and dolphins and you can be fined or go to jail if you approach too closely. Snorkeling with a guide will help ensure you know the proper distance to stay from marine wildlife.
It is super important that you keep proper distance from all marine life and keep your hands off them and their habitats. This includes the corals which are really quite fragile. Coral is easily damaged by contact and is also often quite sharp. It takes many years for reef to grow. Please avoid contact with coral. A lot of people use their snorkel trips to collect memorabilia like shells and coral, but we encourage you to keep everything in its place and preserve the beauty and life for future generations.
What to Look for When Snorkeling in Maui
Main island Maui is home to a lot of amazing snorkeling spots along its shores and off the neighboring islands within Maui County. When looking to book a guided tour make sure you are going to someone who is recommended, with a good amount of positive reviews and experience. They should also have proper booking guidelines that make you feel at ease with booking for yourself and possibly your family on this excursion.
If you and your party are looking to snorkel off one of Maui’s coasts there are a few elements to consider. The greatest amount of sea life gathers around the reefs– so adhere to what we mentioned about keeping hands off and your curiosity as a view-only level. The other thing to consider is the weather and swells of the ocean.
The island of Maui has different waves or ocean swells at different times of the year. The winter we usually categorized as a North Shore swell – this is when you will see a lot of footage of big wave surfers with double or triple overhead waves as their backdrop. This usually means avoiding any snorkeling off of the North Shore of Maui.
In the summer we encounter a south swell – although a little less severe than the big waves – it could mean that the snorkeling spots along Kihei and Makena are cloudy due to high winds and a large amount of churn in the ocean.
What to Wear on Your Maui Snorkel Trip
The gear is almost as important as the trip itself. Making sure that you have snorkeling gear that will keep you safe both on a guided tour and on your own is vital to the success and enjoyment of your excursion. The two most important pieces of equipment are the fins and the snorkel mask.
It is helpful to try on and adjust the mask before you leave the harbor, this ensures that you won’t waste any valuable snorkeling time. Begin by brushing all the hair out of your face and gently inhaling so the mask adheres to your face properly. The mask should remain there unsupported, if it does you should pull the strap around your head and adjust straps until comfortable. Feel free to ask for assistance at any time. in order to keep the mask from fogging up there is a defogging solution aboard the vessel. Also ask for an optical mask before the boat leaves the dock to ensure you won’t miss a thing.
Avoid full-face masks as they do not properly circulated air and can lead to shallow water blackouts. The traditional separate mask and snorkel sets are the safest to snorkel with. If you are snorkeling on your own, make sure that you have a proper snorkel mask that you rent or buy which is endorsed and fitted by dive shops in the area of your stay.
Fins are not mandatory for snorkeling, but they help you move much more quickly through the water. If you choose to wear them, there are a few guidelines to ensure your safety and good time on and off board. It is easier to put your fins on seated by the place you wish to enter the water from. If you are entering from shore, do not put your fins on until you have entered the water, walking in it can lead to falling and also looking silly in front of locals. If you are entering from a boat use diligence and upon wanting to reboard the boat, take your fins off before using the ladder. There will be a crew above that you can pass your fins to before you climb the swim ladder.
The snorkel is pretty self-explanatory. Breathe naturally as you float or swim along the surface. If it seems like it is not staying upright while you are snorkeling the strap that attaches to the mask can be adjusted. Just ask for assistance from the captain or crew. When you return to the surface from a deeper dive, just give a short puff of air to clear and water from the snorkel.
The Best Snorkeling in Maui
All-in-all, when it comes to snorkeling in Maui make sure that you have the proper equipment, are working to keep both yourself and the marine life safe and keep calm. In general, if you are breathing naturally and enjoying the experience you are all but guaranteed a great time!