Snorkeling Wahikuli Wayside Park

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Before my day of snorkeling at Wahikuli Wayside Park, I knew this beach as the park I had driven past hundreds of times on my way to other more acclaimed snorkel spots in the area. I had never given snorkeling there a thought. But then I saw it ranked as one of the best places to snorkel with turtles on Maui!

Convenient Location for Snorkeling on Maui

Wahikuli Wayside Park is conveniently located off the side of the highway along Maui’s coastline. This makes the beach as accessible as it is breathtaking. Unbeknownst to me, this well-liked snorkeling locale isn’t just popular due to its location. It is also one of the best places on Maui’s west coast to see sea turtles! My first snorkel trip there provided clear turquoise waters and abundant sea life on the rocky reefs at each end. I was pleasantly surprised with snorkeling at Wahikuli Wayside Park, and quickly decided this was one of my new favorite snorkel spots on Maui. I for the convenient, sunny location and stayed (all day) for the copious sea turtles and schools of local Hawaiian fish. Let’s take a closer look!

How to Get to Wahikuli Wayside Park

Once you visit Wahikuli, you’ll immediately appreciate one of its greatest advantages: the convenient location! This eight-acre park is located right off of Honoapiʻilani Highway, just 1.5 miles north of downtown Lahaina. From downtown, take this highway north until you reach the intersection of Honoapiilani Highway and Leialii Parkway. The park will be across the street from the Lahaina Civic Center and Post Office. There are  two entrances and two parking lots that are usually uncrowded. If you plan to snorkel, which I highly recommend, park at the south end parking lot. Here you will find easy access to the ocean, ample picnic tables, grills, showers and bathrooms. If you plan to spend time on the lawns and hang out beneath the trees, use the picnic tables and bbq’s in the north lot. This parking lot will be your next left after the south parking lot entrance.

Snorkeling at Wahikuli Wayside Park

It was a beautiful Maui day on the west side. The blue skies, low wind, and still waters had me feeling adventurous. I wanted a fresh snorkel location to “wow” me! I had always been curious about snorkeling Wahikuli Wayside Park, so I grabbed my snorkel gear rentals and headed up Honoapiʻilani Highway. A parking spot was easy to find in the south lot and made my way down to scope out the beach.

History of Wahikuli Wayside Park

Wahikuli translates to “noisy place” in Hawaiian. I found this name fitting for the ample amenities and open space for ocean and beach activities. Many locals and tourists choose this beach as a place to gather for picnics, snorkeling, luaus and biking. It wasn’t too busy on this day, but I could tell from the extensive amenities that it is usually a buzzing spot.

Snorkeling with Turtles!

As I walked towards the shoreline to survey my uncharted waters, I instantly saw 3 turtles feeding in shallow water close to shore. My feet weren’t even wet yet, and I had already had 3 turtle sightings! Excited and eager to get a closer look, I found a shady spot on the beach and quickly strapped on my fins and mask. Sand extended far out into the ocean, which made ocean access quick and simple. The underwater world of Wahiluki had plenty of open space to explore. Those turtles I had just spotted on the shore soon greeted me as I headed 5 yards further out into the ocean. They each relaxedly floated along, allowing the ocean tide to carry them in whichever direction. Their peaceful demeanor never fails to amaze me!

Marine Life Snorkeling at Wahikuli Wayside Park

A few moments after I moved on, I came across a large school of saddleback wrasse hiding beneath a rock on the ocean floor. As soon as I noticed them, they escaped from under the rock as they moved together in perfect harmony. It is incredible to see fish schooling together to better protect themselves from predators. They also swim together in a coordinated manner to improve their foraging and swim more efficiently. This school of saddleback wrasse swam over towards a big group of yellow tang, moorish idol, and black triggerfish intermingling together. All these fish swam among each other out in the open water. I stuck around for a while to take in this beautiful moment! Overall I was completely stunned by the underwater life while snorkeling at Wahikuli Wayside Park. Every turn I took brought me to something new and exciting.

Wahikuli Wayside Park by Bike

The only thing I wish I had done differently on my day at Wahikuli is to have taken advantage of the bicycle trails that run along the west Maui coastline and end on the park’s northern boundary. This is the ideal place to gather your belongings, rent a bike in Lahaina, and ride to the beach while taking in the picturesque views and the clean ocean air. Consider renting a bike and beginning your adventure day on two wheels if you want to add another activity to your snorkeling day!

Whether you spend your entire day here or are just making a pit stop on your electric bike beach hop tour, all visitors are bound to enjoy the ocean life, amenities and ample space for ocean and beach activities. Grab your beach gear, rent some top-notch snorkeling equipment and get ready to be pleasantly surprised by this intimate snorkeling spot!