Honolua Bay Snorkeling

by Grant
Honolua Bay snorkeling

The diversity of marine life is second to none

Honolua Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District located on the north western end of Maui.  No fishing of any kind is allowed here making for a sealife density and diversity that is second to none on the Valley Isle.

Honolua Bay is surrounded by high rocky cliffs on both sides that shelter it from the wind and keep the water calm.  An old cement boat ramp in the center of the beach divides the shoreline in two. As you sit on the beach you will be looking out across the Pailolo Channel at the eastern shores of the Island of Molokai.

To the left of the boat ramp, the shore is made of dark grey powdery sand where an intermittantly running stream flows into the bay.  The flow of the stream in addition to the darker sand makes the water near the shore quite murky.  Not to worry though, if you swim a little ways out the sand becomes white in color and the water clears up (I’ll tell you how to get completely get around this area in a moment).

To the right of the boat ramp, the shoreline is made of rocks and small boulders.  The famous Honolua Bay surf spot is located out on the far right-hand (north) point.

The Honolua Bay surf break is renowned to be one of, if not, the most perfect wave in all of Hawaii.  Whether you’re a surfer or not, when there’s a north swell, this perfect break is quite something to see.  Luckily, the point is far enough away that the waves won’t affect your snorkeling.

The middle of the bay is flat with white sand, the center being about 15 to 20 feet deep.

Insider Tip: When it’s time to go snorkeling, don’t waste your time jumping in near the sand at the center of the beach.  Walk along the rocks to the right hand (north) side of the shore before entering.  Take it easy and go slowly.  The rocks can be slippery.  Most of Honolua’s coral is concentrated on the right hand side of the bay, therefore, so are the fish.  You’ll save yourself the swim and since you’ll be further from the sand the visibility will be better.

Honolua Bay marine life

Here’s some of the tame reef fish I have seen around the coral: Butterfly fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, surgeon fish, moorish idol, tang, wrasse, box fish, flag tails, cardinal fish, squirrel fish, soldier fish, big eyes, chub, trigger fish, the former Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, goat fish, snapper, peacock bass, hawk fish, jacks, mullet, turtles, eels, and invertebrates. Large schools of big eye scad sometimes frequent the open sandy areas.  I once even saw a barracuda in excess of 5 feet long!

Honolua Bay beach facilities

There is no life guard, bathrooms, or showers.  Remember to bring your own food and drinks because there are no stores nearby.

After parking your car, follow the dirt path about 100 meters down to the ocean.  The walk itself down through the trees to Honolua Bay is beautiful.  When you cross over the dry stream bed you know you’re almost there.  The path emerges from the trees right at the old boat ramp.

How do I get to Honolua Bay?

Driving time to Honolua Bay from Kahului Airport is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.

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