This large and mostly shallow bay is located along one of the farthest reaches of Maui’s west side just minutes past Napili Bay, Kapalua Bay, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. It is part of the 45-acre Honolua-Mokule’ia Marine Life Conservation District that was recently saved from private and commercial development by local activists. Today, the area is slated to become an official Hawaii State Park. Because it is a marine life conservation district fishing or taking of anything (coral or rocks) is strictly prohibited.
Honolua Bay is best accessed by boat, kayak or outrigger canoe tours because of its size and variable ocean conditions. The bay is accessible by foot but with minimal parking and a jungle trail and stream leading to a rocky shoreline makes it a bit of a hike. It is not an ideal walk-in snorkel spot as the stream here empties into the bay and makes for murky visibility. Farther out in the bay the water clears but weather conditions and time of day can become a factor here on stormy days.
This bay is large with differing depths and coral formations. That’s why its best to go with a guide who knows the reef and where you’re likely to see the most impressive marine life.
Snorkelers will see tons of reef fish, Hawaiian green sea turtles and possibly eagle and manta rays. It’s also a fantastic scuba spot in the deeper sections out towards the open ocean where spinner dolphins, eagle rays, lobsters and reef sharks roam.
High rocky cliffs surround the bay which shelters it from the tradewinds, creating calm snorkeling conditions in the summer months. However, in the winter months, large swells break along the north side of the bay creating one of the smoothest and longest barrel waves in the world. The large swells here are for experts only, but there are several overlooks along the surrounding cliffs where locals and visitors alike gather to watch the action. Humpback whales can often be seen from these vantage points too during the winter whale season.