Do you want to swim with turtles on Maui?

You’re not alone! Every year, tourists worldwide flock to Maui, Hawaii, to glimpse these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

swim with turtles in maui

Lucky for us, we could spend six months living on Maui! (You heard that right…. six glorious months living in paradise.) Michael and I were fortunate to spend so much time underwater swimming with turtles and other marine life during that time.

While there are many incredible things to experience on Maui (check out our 67+ Top Things to Do on Maui), swimming with turtles is an experience of a lifetime! We’ve got you covered on all our favorite places- from Turtle Town to the Island’s Top Snorkel Experiences and everything in between!

Best Beaches to Swim With Turtles on Maui

Turtle Town (Maluaka Beach)

Turtle Town Maui is our favorite beach to swim with turtles. Located on the south side of Maui, Turtle Town (also known as Maluaka Beach) is considered one of the best places for tourists and locals alike to find sea turtles.

Why we love Turtle Town (Maluaka Beach):

Whether snorkeling or sunbathing, you are almost guaranteed to see a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle! Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are known for swimming in shallow waters (like this shoreline), so this is the perfect beach for those who don’t want to go too far out into the ocean to spot a turtle.

What marine life will I see at Turtle Town?

There are 2 reefs on the north and south sides of the beach that you can snorkel around. We have seen a ton of marine life at Turtle Town and the surrounding reefs, including green sea turtles, starfish, spotted moray eel, butterfly fish, slate pencil sea urchin, and plenty of Hawaii’s official state fish called the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa (& no, that is not a spelling error, lol).

Our friends have also seen an octopus living in the reef’s northern part!

turtle beach maui. This is a sandy beach where you can swim with turtles in maui. The image shows a boat in the distance. Many Maui tours leave from this beach.
maluaka beach. This image shows Jordyn and Michael from 2 traveling the world blog standing in matching bathing suits. They are holding snorkel equipment before they jump in to swim with turtles at turtle town beach maui.

Directions to Turtle Town:

From Wailea, head south on Makena Alanui Road. Turn Right on Honoiki Street and left on Makena Road.

Parking at Turtle Town (aka Maluaka Beach): 

Limited street parking is available in front of the beach. However, two additional lots are a short walk away!

  • Lot 1: Maluaka Beach South AccessThere is a restroom and shower near the south end.
  • Lot 2: Labeled “Parking Lot” on Google Maps. The easiest way to find it is to search directions for the Keawala’i Congregational Church on Google. The parking lot is directly across the street from the church. There is also a restroom in this parking lot.

Are there restrooms and showers at Turtle Town?

Yes, the South parking lot has a restroom and a shower.

When is the best time of day to go to Turtle Town?

Turtle town is slightly more protected from the trade winds. Therefore, the water is often clearer and calmer than some of the surrounding Maui snorkel beaches. But it’s always a good idea to get to the beach early in the morning before the trade winds pick up to maximize your chances of seeing a Hawaiian Green sea turtle.

Tip: Getting to Turtle Town early also allows you to secure a picnic table or shady spot on the beach before the crowds arrive.

Ahihi Kinau Marine Preserve

This is a small reserve on the south-wet coast of Maui, and it was the very first place Michael and I snorkeled when we got there! The area is mostly made up of lava rock and colorful coral beds, making it one of the top snorkeling spots in Maui. This beach does not have a sandy shoreline.

We recommend bringing a chair to sit on and some water shoes so you do not slip on the uneven lava rock shore. This island area feels isolated, surrounded by acres and acres of dormant lava fields.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and other big-name celebrities own massive compounds surrounding this preserve! 

Why you will love Ahihi Kinau Marina Preserve:

The Ahihi Kinau Bay is shallow (~20ft or so), so you are guaranteed to see a ton of marine life extremely close to shore. Along with Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, we found an abundance of Red Pencil Urchins, yellow tang, butterfly fish, and other marine life while snorkeling this preserve. 

maui sea turtles location. This image shows coral and lava on at the reserve. This is a rocky beach filled with lava, but it is still a great place to snorkel and look for Maui sea turtles.
maui snorkeling beaches - this is another great location for maui snorkeling. This image shows a ocean with a lava and coral coastline. The black and white contrast makes the beach beautiful to look out. However, it is a rocky beach so it is better to jump in and swim with turtles at this location

Directions to Ahihi Kinau Marine Preserve

Ahihi Kinau is located near Makena on the South side of Maui. To get there, take Pilani Hwy (Hwy 31) South. Turn right on Okolani Drive. Turn left on Wailea Alanui Dr. This road will take you past all the Wailea Beach Resorts. The road eventually turns into Makena Rd. Take Makena Rd. down 2.5 miles until you see signs for the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve. 

Parking at Ahihi Kinau Marine Reserve

There is a very small lot at the Ahihi Kinau Marine Reserve with about 20 parking spots. The lot can fill up quickly on weekends and during peak tourist season, so we recommend getting there early. The lot is paved. Parking is $5 for non-residents. The parking machine takes credit cards. Follow signs for the unpaved route from the car park to the beach.

Is Ahihi Kinau good for beginner snorkelers? 

Snorkeling here is more of an intermediate level. There are no lifeguards on duty at this beach. While the lava rocks provide some protection from the waves, we recommend using extra caution if you are snorkeling with kids or are not a strong swimmer.


67+ Best Things to Do on Maui

Incredible Experiences You Can’t Miss

Napili Bay

This crescent-shaped beach is a must snorkel in Maui. If you stay in Kaanapali or Lahaina, you can’t miss a beach day in Napili Bay! Napili Bay is one of the best snorkel spots in Maui for swimming with turtles. For your best chance at seeing turtles at Napili Bay, we recommend swimming on the left side of the beach, where the water is shallower.

Why you will love Napili Bay:

You are almost guaranteed to see a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle in Napili Bay. This Bay is also great for beginners as It is more protected from tradewinds. After your underwater exploration, you can enjoy the SeaHouse Restaurant and Bar, with views overlooking the crystal clear bay. When tides are low, you may even see turtles from the shoreline! 

things to do maui: snorkel coral reefs
snorkeling in maui spot. This is the entrance to Napili Bay. The image shows crystal blue water peaking out in the distance with stairs that lead down to Napili Bay. This is one of our favorite places to swim with turtles in Maui.
swim with turtles in maui. This image was taken from our go pro while paddle boarding in Napili Bay. The image shows a maui green sea turtle up close. The water is slightly foggy but you can still see the fins of the turtle. Napili is a great place to swim with turtles on Maui!

Directions to Napili Bay:

To get to Napili Bay from Lahaina, take Highway 30 West toward Napili Bay. Turn Left onto Napilihau St., Then turn right onto Lower Honoapiilani Road. There is limited street parking along this road.

Parking at Napili Bay

Free parking in this area is VERY limited. We typically park in the Kapalua Bay Parking Beach lot or nearby lots on Lower Honoapiilani Road.

Once you park in the Kapalua Bay Parking Lot, walk through the Napili Lani resort to Sea House restaurant. You will take a small set of stairs down to the bay from the restaurant. You can also walk back to Lower Honoapiilani Road and down the paved road until you get to the beach entrance (this way takes a bit longer).

The lots typically fill up before 10 a.m., so we recommend getting to the beach early and making a day out of it.

West Maui Half-Day Snorkel Tour from Ka’anapali: Includes breakfast, lunch, and snorkel equipment.

Kayak & Snorkel Tour: Kayak and snorkel tour from South Maui.

On-Shore Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Maui has several fantastic spots where you can spot Sea Turtles from shore!

Kalepolepo Fish Pond 

The best place to see a sunset and watch Turtles swim on shore is Kalepolepo Fishpond, which is also known by its older name, Ko’ie’ie, which means rapid current.

The Kalepolepo Fishpond has a ton of history! According to Maui Magazine, the stones that make up the fishpond were chunks of lava that Hawaiians wedged into place 400 to 500 years ago!

best maui snorkeling post. Image shows turtle sightings laying on the sand at the Kalepolepo Fish Pond.

Organizations like O Na Loka l’a O Maui and The Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary have been actively restoring this walled fishpond. (Please consider donating to their efforts here- Donate Here!

Why you will love Sunset at Kalepolepo Fish Pond:

The walled pond is shallow, maybe waist high, making it a perfect spot for kids (keiki) and adults to swim and snorkel. Go during the late afternoon/evening when turtles go to shore along the rocky wall.

As waves enter, the turtles look like bumper cars pushing one another onto the shore. After seeing the turtles, enjoy an incredible Maui Sunset!

Remember: Stand 10-15 feet from the turtles to avoid $10,000 fines and jail time!

turtle bay snorkeling. This photo is of Michael from He is standing in a turtle fish pond that is super shallow. Ths sun is setting behind him in the distance
turtle town maui. This image shows 2 massive turtles in maui that are in 6 inch deep water. One has his head above water and the other turtle has his head under the water.

Directions to Kalepolepo Fishpond:

From Wailea, head north on Piilani Highway/Hwy 31. Take Piilani Hway about ~5 miles north. Turn left on Kaonolu St. Follow that down to the water and turn left on S. Kihei Rd. You can drive the beach stretch of S. Kihei Rd for a scenic route.

Parking at Kalepoleop Fishpond:

Parking here is the worst. But I promise you, once you do find a spot, the experience is one to remember! There is a very small lot for the Kalepolepo Fish Pond! It has 8 -10 spots available for you to park in. However, if this lot is full, you can usually find nearby street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods and walk 10-15 minutes to the water.

The parking for Kalepolepo is directly in front of a grassy lawn with BBQ and picnic tables. If at all possible, consider taking an Uber or pre-arranged transportation drop-off with your hotel. 

Maui Ocean Center

Another great option is to tour the Maui Ocean Center, one of the top things to do in Maui with kids. I know it may sound a bit crazy to go to Maui to take your kids to an aquarium when you can see the turtles from shore, but I promise you, the Maui Ocean Center is 100% worth a visit! 

where to see sea turtles in maui. This image shows someone touching a turtle skull at the Maui Ocean center.

You will get an up-close look (both on the surface and an underwater view) of the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. You can even take a behind-the-scenes tour with an Ocean Center Guide to assist in the Turtle feeding. 

Ho’okipa Beach

At Ho’okipa Beach, you can witness the magnificent Hawaiian green sea turtles right from the shore. The best time to catch a glimpse of these graceful creatures is right before sunset, although sightings are possible throughout the day.

When visiting Ho’okipa Beach, remember that there’s a designated area exclusively for the turtles where human access is restricted. A clear sign will show where this protected zone is. While you can’t enter this section, observing these incredible creatures from a respectful distance is an unforgettable experience.

Directions to Ho’okipa Beach:

Ho’okipa Beach is located on Maui’s North Shore just past Paia on the Hana Highway.

Parking at Ho’okipa Beach:

There is ample parking at Ho’okipa Beach, and over 170 parking spots are available.

Top Snorkel Tours To Swim With Turtles on Maui

What better way to swim with turtles in Maui than on a snorkeling boat tour? Michael and I took a few different boat excursions, which you can read about in our Top-Rated Things to do on Maui Post!

While you can snorkel on shore, nothing beats being on the water and having a local Maui Guide take you to all the best snorkel spots in Maui. A few of our favorite snorkel spots are located on the West Side of Maui and are next to impossible unless you are on a boat or kayak.

snorkeling maui to swim with turtles in maui. This image shows 5 people sitting at tables on a boat. Everyone is wearing hats and sunglasses. This image was taken before we left for a snorkel boat tour on Maui to swim with turtles and look for whales.

Top Snorkel Tour Recommendations

From West Side Maui (Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Napili)

  • West Maui Half-Day Snorkel Tour from Ka’anapali: This tour includes breakfast, lunch, and snorkel equipment (although we always recommend purchasing your own). Alcoholic drinks can be purchased on board.
  • Lahaina Turtle Town: This is not to be confused with the Turtle Town (mentioned earlier in this post) located on the South side. Lahaina’s turtle town, also known as Lahaina Turtle Cleaning Station, was once a pier used for the export of Maui pineapple and other agriculture. During a hurricane, the dock was destroyed, leaving pieces of the sunken dock (now turned ocean reef) along the ocean floor. You will see a ton of turtles near this reef.
maui snorkel beaches. This image shows jordyn and michael from 2 traveling the world standing on a boat on their way to find the best snorkel beaches in Maui. The tours we went on all were focused around places to swim with turtles in maui.
maui vacation snorkel and swim with turtles post. This image shows a turtle in maui coming up to shore to peak his head up. You see the coral reef a few feet below him. These images were taken in Maui Hawaii. The water is crystal blue.

From South Side Maui (Kihei, Wailea)

  • Molokini & Turtle Town: This tour takes you to Molokini, the crater you see offshore of Maui, and the famous turtle town!
  • Snorkel Whale Watching to Molokini and Turtle Town: This 5-hour tour is also great if you want to go to Molokini, the sunken volcano crater offshore of Maui. Booking with this tour also allows you to try SNUBA. Oh, and this boat has a waterslide!
  • Kayak & Snorkel Tour: Another fun way to swim with turtles in Maui is through a kayak and snorkel tour! You are guaranteed to see turtles and other marine life on this tour, which includes snacks and snorkel gear.
maui snorkeling spots

Maui Packing List: Our Top Snorkel Gear & Beach Must-Haves

When we moved to Maui, we had only snorkeled a handful of times. We thought we would just buy a cheap set that another travel blogger recommended from Walmart. Unfortunately, the masks we bought were horrible! They leaked almost immediately. And the masks were not UV coated, so the brighter colors under the sea blended into the sand.

We did some research and ended up investing in a better snorkel setup. The colors were so bright underwater, and it was completely worth the purchase! If time permits, we recommend purchasing a mask and trying the fit before your trip.

 Best Snorkel Gear & Maui Beach Day Essentials

  • Snorkel Mask: We love our snorkel masks! Shop for a mask with UV coating, Anti-glare, and Anti-fog. Fish and bright reef colors will look dull without the UV coating. If you want the colors of the ocean to pop, buy a mask like this one
  • Snorkel: The Kraken snorkel line was highly recommended by shops on Maui. To save money, you can order the Kraken snorkel mask on Amazon ahead of time.
  • Fins: I recommend ordering fins with adjustable straps. If you prefer ones that slip on, be sure to find ones with a snug fit. You don’t want to lose a fin at the bottom of the ocean. 
  • Anti-Fog Solution: This anti-fog spray will last you forever. It’s super easy: spray into your snorkel mask and then rinse with a little water. This will save you from constantly swimming to clear your mask.

Best Maui Beach Essentials:

  • Beach Cooler Backpack: This backpack is useful while exploring the island. We used it on the beach to keep drinks cold and to keep our phones and other electronics from melting. Whether you are taking the road to Hana or biking down Haleakalā volcano, this backpack is a must! Tip: Use this cooler backpack as your carry-on bag on your flight to save space.
  • Reef & CORAL safe sunscreen: Most sunscreens have toxic chemicals like Homosalate and Octocrylene. 
  • Waterproof fanny pack: Perfect for keeping your phone and keys dry when paddle boarding or on a boat trip!
maui snorkeling tours
turtles in maui- snorkeling tour

Maui Rules & Helpful Tips

What kind of turtles will you see on Maui?

Maui is home to five out of the seven world’s sea turtle species. The most common turtle you will see while snorkeling or walking on the beach in Maui is the Green Sea Turtle (also known as Honu). Green Sea turtles are approximately four feet tall and can weigh over 300 lbs!

Honestly, the first time one swam up to Michael, he screamed SO loud that the entire beach could hear him. They are massive!

What is the best time of day to see Sea Turtles?

Maui Sea Turtles are most active in the morning, so we recommend getting to your snorkel or beach spot early. We have seen turtles all day long on some beaches, but the morning is your best bet!

Can you touch turtles on Maui?

Absolutely not! While touching or getting close to these creatures may be tempting, please resist the urge! These are endangered species. It is illegal to be within 10 feet of a sea turtle. You’ll hear the phrase “10 feet or 10k” while visiting Maui beaches.

What does the Hawaiian phrase 10 feet or 10k mean?

This phrase refers to the Endangered Species law. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) enforces the “Ten Feet or $10000” law.

If caught touching or approaching a sea turtle within ten feet, you will be fined up to $10,000 and could potentially be sentenced to a year in jail.

Play it safe, and stay at least 15-20 feet away from turtles!

This post shows you how to swim with Turtles in Maui. 

Trip Planning & Packing Freebee

Subscribe + get our FREE trip planning and packing must-haves!

Explore More