Snorkeling at Napili Bay

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Snorkeling at Napili Bay

A beautiful June morning, Maui had been experiencing low winds and clear blue skies for about a week. I double checked the Maui Snorkel Report By Boss Frog’s™ for west and south Maui. With high scores across the island, northwest received the best rating of all, a 10 out of 10. This was the perfect day for snorkeling at Napili Bay, my absolute favorite beach on Maui.

Napili Bay, with its crescent-shaped beach, vibrant coral reefs, and popular waterfront restaurants, guarantees a fantastic beach experience. The summer months are especially enjoyable here with calm, clear ocean conditions. The reef systems at either ends of the bay offer some of the best snorkeling on Maui. This is a beginner-friendly location where it is easy to swim out view sea turtles, parrotfish, moorish idols, and other native Hawaiian fish. Unlike more congested tourist destinations, Napili Bay maintains a fairly relaxed atmosphere. Let’s get to know Napili Bay and why it’s known as one of Maui’s best snorkeling spots!

How to Get to Napili Bay

This beautiful beach is conveniently located 10-20 minutes from most places in Lahaina and 45-60 minutes from Kihei or Wailea. To reach Napili Bay, take Honoapi’ilani Road north through West Maui. Turn right onto Napilihau Street, then right again onto Lower Honoapi’ilani Road.

There are two options for beach access: Napili Place and Hui Drive. The parking lot at the end of Napili Place ensures the least amount of walking to reach the beach. Alternatively, look for parking on Lower Honoapi’ilani Road or Hui Drive to walk to the beach access walkway behind the Napili Sunset condos.

History of Napili Bay From the Napili Kai Foundation

When the Napili Kai Beach Resort originally opened its doors in 1961, it was a small beachside hideaway on a pleasant acre of land at Napili Bay in Maui. It had just 12 rooms! The workers at the resort, who were all neighbors, gave guests a hearty welcome and treated them like members of their own ohana (family).

Employees’ families arrived on the weekends bringing ukuleles, guitars, and kids to hula dance, making memories for visitors. After a few years of these poignant get-togethers, a decision was made to preserve these Hawaiian customs for years to come. The Napili Kai Foundation was created as a result!

The Napili Kai Foundation was established with a strong dedication to protecting Hawaiian culture, and it is an important part of the Napili Bay community. The organization, which is committed to cultural education and sustainability, funds regional programs that uphold traditional Hawaiian customs and values. It encourages a deeper understanding for Maui’s rich cultural legacy among youngsters and visitors alike through partnerships with educational institutions and community organizations. The Napili Kai Foundation ensures that the spirit of aloha endures on Maui!

Top Sites Around Napili Bay

Aside from snorkeling, there are many attractions within walking distance from Napili Bay. Grab a delicious breakfast or watch the sunset during happy hour at waterfront restaurants. Or enjoy live Hawaiian music just steps from the beach.

  • Sea House Restaurant: Admire Napili Bay from above at the Sea House! Drink and dine at the water’s edge, and enjoy the “Best Happy Hour, Most Maui-est Restaurant and for Best Breakfast” on Maui!
  • The Gazebo: Famous for a hearty breakfast and brunch, this cozy spot offers amazing ocean views. Their macadamia nut pancakes are a must-try!
  • Live Slack Key Show: Every Wednesday and Thursday evening, this intimate concert features Grammy Award-winning slack key guitarists performing traditional Hawaiian tunes.

Rent Snorkel Gear Near Napili Bay

In need of some quality snorkel gear, I searched for a nearby snorkel rental store. I found a Boss Frogs location just four minutes from Napili Bay! Boss Frogs has 9 locations across the south and west sides of Maui, and all the beach necessities – snorkel gear, chairs, umbrellas, wetsuits, GoPro’s and more!

There are minimal shaded spots at Napili Bay, so bring an umbrella unless you want to enhance your tan. Both the north and south ends of the beach include coral reefs filled with marine life so either side is a good starting point for snorkeling. I set up at the northern end, near the pōhaku (lava rocks).

Snorkeling at Napili Bay

Compared to other snorkeling spots on Maui, Napili Bay had an easier entry point into the water. Thanks to the sandy bottom and minimal ocean swell, I was able to take my time putting on snorkel gear. The coral extended into deeper water, and the depth of the water ranged from 3 to 8 feet deep. For people like me who like to dive down to more remote regions, this was ideal.

I dunked my head under the warm 78 degree water and swam alongside the lava rocks. After what seemed like only a few swift kicks of my fins, the once distant colorful reef came into clear view. This coral reef is very close to shore, and is sometimes visible from the beach during low tide.

The sea creatures encountered while snorkeling at Napili Bay were abundant! I saw moorish idol, raccoon butterfly fish, bird wrasse, and a bright rainbow wrasse that glimmered in the crystal waters. In addition, I witnessed some of the biggest parrotfish and Humuhumunukunukuapua (Hawaii’s state fish) I have ever seen. Nearby, a sea turtle was being closely followed by a couple of snorkelers along the coral’s edge. I was grateful that I had thought to rent a GoPro so I was able to capture footage of the incredible sea turtle. The snorkelers trailing after it threw me a shaka, acknowledging our shared moment of appreciation for this majestic creature.

Snorkeling at Napili Bay offers a spectacular experience with its colorful coral reefs. The Sea House is a perfect place for post snorkel happy hour with a view. Don’t miss out on this slice of paradise during your Maui vacation!