Snorkeling at DT Fleming Beach

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Snorkeling at DT Fleming

DT Fleming Beach Park is the perfect location for adventurers eager to immerse themselves in some of Maui’s most breathtaking land and waterscapes. Aside from stellar snorkeling at DT Fleming Beach, there is so much to explore in this area! Set amongst the pristine Kapalua Resort community on the north west coast of Maui, this beach blends tourist appeal with local charm. 

It’s no surprise DT Fleming was awarded “Best Beach in America” in 2003! Golden sands, verdant foliage, and pristine ocean views guarantee an unforgettable beach day on Maui. During the serene summer months, DT Fleming ranks among Maui’s top snorkel spots. However, caution is advised during winter (and occasional summer swells) due to larger waves, ideal for intermediate surfers and boogie boarders but hazardous for snorkelers. A lifeguard station watches over the beach at DT Fleming, and for up-to-date snorkeling conditions, check the Maui Snorkel Report By Boss Frog’s™.

Things to do at DT Fleming Beach

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy walk offering pristine coastal vistas all the way to Kapalua Bay. For those seeking a more challenging experience, the 10.8-mile out-and-back Mahana Ridge Trail is another great option. Other activities include a walking labyrinth and the conveniently located Burger Shack at the second beach entrance (be sure to try their Instagram-worthy ice cream shakes!). One could easily spend all day here, so I highly suggest renting beach gear essentials from Boss Frog’s on the way! The Napili location is closest to DT Fleming, convenient to the main road with plenty of snorkel and beach gear to choose from. 

How to Get to DT Fleming Beach

To reach DT Fleming Beach Park from Lahaina, head north on HI-30 (Honoapi’ilani Highway) and continue for approximately 9 miles. The scenery along the coast road leading up to Kapalua is breathtaking, and the landscapes are unique to this side of the island. Driving north will reveal a shift in the vegetation from the customary palm trees to something you may not initially expect on Maui: Cook Pine trees. These towering pines create a stunning contrast to the turquoise ocean, adding picturesque beauty to the drive.

After 9 miles, you will see the Kapalua Golf Course. This is the #1 golf course in Hawaii and host of the PGA tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions. Proceed past the course as the road winds down toward the coast, then make a left turn onto Lower Honoapi’ilani Road. The parking lot for DT Fleming Beach Park is at the bottom of this road. A small parking lot is located on the right side, as well as an overflow lot on the left. Parking is free for residents, visitors are required to pay a small fee in the overflow lot. Nearby, you will find well-maintained amenities including restrooms, showers, picnic tables, BBQ grills, and a lifeguard tower.

History of DT Fleming Beach

DT Fleming Beach Park is named after David T. Fleming, the man who introduced pineapples to West Maui. Before it was a pineapple plantation, the area was a fishing and kalo (taro) farming village. In 1848, the land was given to Laura Kunia, the granddaughter of King Kamehameha I. In the late 1800s, Henry Perrine Baldwin acquired large tracts of West Maui land, including the area around DT Fleming Beach. Baldwin established Honolua Ranch and began planting pineapples.

After Baldwin’s death in 1911, Fleming relocated to Napili, took over the ranch and converted it into a pineapple plantation. Today, Maui Land and Pineapple, formed in 1962, owns the surrounding (now fallow) pineapple lands and Kapalua Bay Resort.

Snorkeling at DT Fleming Beach

As my first time snorkeling at DT Fleming Beach, I was in awe of the size of this section of sandy coastline. Unsure of where to snorkel, I asked the lifeguards for guidance. They informed me that the reef is to the right of the tower, while the left side has a sandy ocean floor. The lifeguards are very helpful and advise swimming out past the small 1-3 foot waves to avoid being pushed into rocks or coral. When in doubt, always ask!

Setting up below some shady ironwood trees, I grabbed my rented snorkel gear and ventured out from the north end of the beach. Following the lifeguard’s advice, I waited for the small swell to subside before swimming out into calm water. For all snorkelers, it is advised to brush up on snorkeling safety tips before snorkeling at DT Fleming Beach. Ocean conditions here can change rapidly.

As I swam further from shore, the sandy ocean floor transformed into endless rows of coral. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of local Hawaiian fish I saw. Yellow tangs darted around heads of finger coral, and I even swam with an extremely friendly triggerfish. Diving down to the coral beds below, I got an up-close look at a white mouth eel. My most memorable moment snorkeling at DT Fleming Beach was encountering an elusive octopus! Octopi have a variety of defense mechanisms, including the ability to change color and disperse ink when threatened. I saw the octopus only for a fleeting moment before it disguised itself on the rocky floor. DTFleming_Eel

Dragon’s Teeth, Kapalua Labyrinth

After my snorkel session, I was craving more adventure—this time on foot! I decided to explore Makaluapuna Point, located just south of DT Fleming Beach Park. This turned out to be an unforgettable experience. The rugged coastline offered breathtaking views of the vast Pacific Ocean meeting the towering cliffs. Also known as Dragon’s Teeth, the sharp gray rocks were formed from Haleakalā’s lava flow and resemble large teeth. At the center of the point you’ll find the Kapalua Labyrinth, a sacred walking path for reflection and contemplation. The strong spiritual presence here added a beautiful sense of peace and appreciation to my day. I even saw some whales breaching in the distance! Oh, Maui… 🙂

This beach is an absolute gem on Maui’s northwest coast. I was able to snorkel, hike, and eat a delicious burger all within walking distance! DT Fleming Beach Park truly offers something special for everyone. Don’t forget to venture out to Dragon’s Teeth for some breathtaking views and a touch of Maui’s mana—it was the cherry on top of an already perfect beach day!