Best Beach for a Midmorning Snorkel: Ulua Beach, Wailea
Even though Maui has three-dozen beaches with spectacular snorkeling from shore, this Wailea enclave stands out from the rest for its ease of access, protected conditions, and wealth of colorful marine life. Ulua’s amenities include showers and restrooms, plus free, though limited, public parking—you’ll want to get here by 10 a.m. if you hope to find a space. The reward is snorkeling in pristine conditions before the wind picks up. You can also reach Ulua on foot along the Wailea Coastal Walk, which borders oceanfront hotels. The best spot for snorkeling is around the lava-rock headland that separates Ulua from Mōkapu Beach below Andaz Maui resort. Here turquoise uhu (parrotfish) crunch on vibrant corals, and schools of manini (convict tang) dart through holes in the reef. Keep an eye out, too, for honu, hīhīmanu (spotted eagle rays), and he‘e (octopus). The waters may be rough when the wind is from the north (more common in winter), or when the summer surf is high enough to generate an advisory, but that’s just a few days per year, and the rest are downright gorgeous.