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  • Writer's pictureMarkala

What You Need for Snorkeling on Maui.

Updated: Apr 24

Snorkelling is an activity in which a person swims using a mask, snorkel and swimming aids such as fins, but without using self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA).

Snorkeling includes both snorkel swimming and snorkel diving.  Snorkel swimming is snorkeling on the surface of the water. Snorkel diving is more for the advanced and, includes breath-hold diving and swimming below the surface.

Maui is home to 20+ beaches for relaxing on and to snorkel from. Snorkeling is a great to bond with your children, partners, friends or just to get away and relax by yourself.

You do not need much to get out and enjoy Maui’s beautiful reef systems, but to make your experience more enjoyable we’ve come up with a list of things you need for snorkeling.

The Mask

There many masks out there across all price ranges. For vacation and first timers it’s okay to stick with the less expensive ones. Costco and Walmart have good deals on all in one snorkel sets. You can also rent snorkel sets on island. You can even find them on Craigslist and FaceBook Market Place.

There are clear skirt or dark skirt (the sides of the mask) can come down to availability both are fine, but a clear skirt may offer a little more peace of mind to those that are claustrophobic.

A good fitting mask is KEY to an enjoyable snorkeling experience and a good way to see if a mask fits you well is to place the mask on your face, without the strap on or around your head. The mask should just stick to your face without inhaling or exhaling.

***AVOID FULL FACE SNORKEL MASKS - There many articles on their dangers. The concept is amazing but it can cause shortness of breathe and panic.

The Snorkel

The snorkel is another critical item for snorkeling. There 3 major types of snorkels, the Wet, the Dry, and the Semi-Dry styles. The Wet or J-Tube Snorkels are very basic and they provide no protection for keeping water out of the snorkel if a small wave crashes over you or you dive under the water. Water coming into the snorkel goes into your mouth with these and are not good for beginners.

The semi-dry snorkel is the best choice for for tourists and those of us recreational snorkelers, and these are the ones you find pretty much anywhere. It’s much like the wet j-tube but it comes with a stopper on the top which stops water from coming in if a wave splashes on you and it seals up as you dive down under the water.

The dry snorkel actually has a seal in it and only works when submerged. So it doesn’t provide any protection if you are just floating around on the surface most of the time.

Snorkeling Fins

The are another piece of equipment to add to your snorkel set. You can snorkel without them but you can and will tire out quickly without them. The surface area of swim fins is much greater than our barefoot and the fins allow you to propel yourself farther and faster with less stress and cardio than without. Don’t get us wrong it’s still a workout but not as much as if you’re going barefoot Fred Flintstone style!

For most of we will be just floating around with minimal kicking BUT it’s great to be able to power through a wave or get away from coral and rocks when needed. Remember swimming in the ocean is not like swimming in a pool or lake. You have to deal with currents, wind, and waves and you will tire out faster without them.

Sizing the fins is important and they should fit snug. Some even wear booties on their feet.

*** Do NOT step on the reef at all even with booties and/or fins. One step will kill that area of the reef and there are 3 million tourist a year just to the island of Maui so factor that in and our reef system is in peril.

Action or GoPro Cameras

GoPro Cameras are great for getting amazing shots of your Maui snorkel adventure. Nowadays, masks and snorkels have camera mounts! Make your next TikTok or Instagram Video on Maui!!


Most defogger is said to basically be baby shampoo and many of the available brands are this. Recent studies show that baby shampoo is harmful to our reefs, so try to find the “reef safe” brands. Now you can also spit in your mask and rub it in or you can rub in toothpaste non abrasive kind and leave it overnight for best results.

Rash Guard

A long sleeve hooded is best as this helps minimize the amount of sunblock being dumped into our reef systems. With that being said, by now, we all know to use Reef Safe biodegradable sunblock. Rashie also provides a barrier to sea life that you may come in contact with, like jellies and sea lice.

Never Snorkel Alone!

It’s best to have a buddy with you or if you must be alone snorkel near or with a group. It’s still considered the open ocean and with currents, rocks and reefs younger know what can happen and you don’t want to be out there by yourself in an emergency and safety in numbers holds true with the larger of the ocean’s sea creatures. If you are new to snorkeling and Maui it’s best to find a shady beach to go from.

is a great help.

Don’t Touch Sea Life or Step on Reef

Best to not touch or grab the reef or shells. The reef systems are home to many beautiful creatures but some of these creatures can get scared and bite!

Be aware of Your Surroundings, Don’t Panic, Stay Calm

It can get overwhelming all of the beauty under the sea, and sometimes we lose track of where we are and end up close to rocks. One can even get startled by a sea turtle swimming right up into your line of sight. If you find yourself startled collect your thoughts and remain calm breathe slow and easy. If you find yourself really in a panic rollover and float on your back once you are away from rocks or exposed reefs. Float and gather yourself.

Before Entering a Snorkel Spot Look at Surroundings

Before entering the waters at your snorkel spot take care and look at the surroundings. See where others are snorkeling and entering the waters. It’s best to sit and watch how the waves/swells are hitting the beach. Waves com in sets and usually there are 3-6 waves per set so if you watch several sets you’ll get the rhythm and can enter in between sets. Of course if the waves are too big Do NOT go out.

When in Doubt Don’t Go Out!

Enjoy Your Maui Snorkeling Adventure!

Most importantly enjoy your Maui Snorkeling Adventure. Maui Snorkeling Guide App is an excellent App for planning your beach/snorkel days.

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