Maui’s Underwater World

If you’re visiting Maui for the first time, you’ve probably made plans to visit some of the Island’s most memorable spots. From our Kahanu Gardens and the Seven Sacred Pools, to Haleakala National Park, you’ll have plenty of places to go.

Maui's Underwater World

But when you’re planning your Maui trip, don’t forget to add some time to spend in Maui’s wide-open and vast underwater world, too. We’re is considered by many to be the best place in the world for snorkeling—would you want to miss out on it? There is so much to see in Maui, both on land and under the sea, including beautifully colored tropical fish and coral reefs under the crystal-clear blue waters.

Popular Underwater Places In Maui

Maui offers multiple spots for snorkeling. Here are just a few to consider.

  • Honolua Bay on the northwestern side of Maui, and includes a Marine Life Conservation District 
  • Molokini Island, a small, crescent-shaped islet that offers protection from waves and currents. The calm, ultra-clear water is home to more than 250 species of fish, and water depth from 20 to 50 feet in the allowed dive spots. Formed more than 150,000 years ago, it’s Maui’s only marine sanctuary.
  • Kapalua Bay, which is also blocked on two sides by reefs and keeping the water inside the bay calmer, making it ideal for families. 
  • Maluaka Beach, also called Turtle Town (Makena), this sandy, shallow beach has plenty of shade and great opportunities to see green and brown turtles, many varieties of fish and eels, and the occasional Humpback Whale during the season.
  • Napili Bay is another great place for families, with sandy beaches that offer easy entry into the water. You’ll see tropical fish and turtles here once you get into the clearer waters.

Maui’s Aquatic Wildlife

Some of the indigenous marine life you may encounter on your trip to Maui include:

  • Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, or honu in the ancient Hawaiian language, are protected under the Endangered Species Act. These ancient creatures are believed to be ancestors, so it’s important to respect them and observe from a short distance.
  • Hawaiian Monk Seals, warm-water mammals who love to hang out on the beach in the sun when they’re not nibbling on octopus, lobsters, eels and tropical fish. Keep your distance from these endangered animals if you encounter one. They are usually found in less-inhabited areas of Island atolls.
  • Spotted Moray Eels, 40-inch long spotted creatures who hang out on the ocean floor and hide most of the day inside coral reefs.
  • Sea cucumbers can be seen in several colors, and are visible while scuba diving or snorkeling in Maui. Cucumber shaped with large spines, it feeds on plankton, small ocean debris, and miniature ocean life.
  • Manta Rays have wingspans from 12-16 feet, and as large as 30 feet, making it the biggest winged creature on earth. They’re part of the same family as stingrays and sharks, but aren’t predatory and don’t have the sharp teeth of their cousins.
  • Raccoon Butterflyfish, a yellow fish with white and black stripes that grow to about eight inches, usually found swimming in shallow waters
  • Slate-pencil Sea Urchin, a red-spined creature that is non-poisonous and inhabits coral reefs
  • Parrotfish, whose round heads and parrot-like beaks give them their distinctive look. The younger ones are actually colorless, and their blue coloring develops as females transition into males, and are 12 to 20 inches in length.
  • Pincushion Sea Star, a starfish that resembles a pentagonal (five-point star) pincushion, one of four found around the Hawaiian Islands.

These are just some of the unique and colorful marine life you’ll encounter under the surface of Maui’s amazingly clear and beautiful waterscapes.

What’s The Best Time To Go Underwater?

While the weather is great all year long, the water is warmest during the summer months.

Plan to go snorkeling early in the morning, when visibility is at its best. It’s the time when the trade winds are very mild, and strengthen later in the day.

As always, our beautiful Island weather can be unpredictable, so observe warnings whenever they are available.

Book Your Trip To Hana Kai Maui

Maui is one of the most amazing places to snorkel, scuba dive, and see what’s under the surface of our beautiful waters. Hana Kai Maui offers unique beachfront condos with comfortable interiors, an outside lanai (balcony), and a full range of amenities.

Call to book your next reservations at 1-800-346-2772, or book directly online. We’re open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Hawaii time to answer all of your questions.

Some Facts About Hana, Maui Lava Tubes

When most people plan a trip to Maui, they think about beach time, sightseeing and scuba diving. But off the Road To Hana is one of the lesser-known attractions called Lava Tubes, also called Ka’eleku Caverns. 

What Is A Lava Tube?

Found around volcanoes, a lava tube is simply a pathway used for hot lava runoff, moving lava away from a volcano. Once the volcano becomes extinct, the surrounding rock cools and hardens, leaving a long cave.

Lava exits the volcano from the eruption point in channels, which stay hot as the surrounding area cools. The tubes form either by crusting over the lava channels or with pahoehoe lava that flows beneath the surface.

The resulting cave has a ceiling that’s anywhere from 30 to 60 feet thick with incredibly strong surroundings. Unlike caves that took millions of years to form, lava tubes can form in just a few weeks with regular lava flow.

How The Lava Tube Formed

Hana’s tube formed nearly 1,000 years ago, when molten lava erupted and flowed down into the sea. The hot lava cooled on the surface, forming a crust while additional lava continued flowing underneath, deepening the interior of the cave and forming a floor. Once the lava drain was complete, the space was left empty.

Because it’s subterranean, it’s free of bats and mosquitoes. Because you’re inside, it won’t matter if it’s raining. The temperature is comfortable year round. However, because there are smaller “threads” of tunnels that branch off, you must stay in the main areas to avoid getting lost.

This subterranean lava tube became the 18th largest in the world. Some of the world’s lava tubes are 30 miles long, and Hana’s is the largest on Maui.

Note: you must be physically fit to be able to walk in the Lava Tube, and have good vision. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, since you will be doing plenty of walking on somewhat rough terrain. Although the tube is much larger, public access is limited to a one-third mile core of the tunnel. (It’s considered trespassing if you go beyond the warning signs.)

What You’ll See Inside

Some Facts About Hana, Maui Lava Tubes near Hana Kai Maui Condos.

On your way in for the self-guided tour, you’re handed a couple of flashlights to be able to see where you’re going inside the tube.  

The caves have fitted handrails for safety, and hardhats are available if you’re interested. You’ll see lots of information posted on the different areas of the cave.

You’ll enter through a “skylight,” a hole in the crust that formed when a thinner spot of the cave collapsed.

Once inside, you’ll see different types of lavasicles, including a few stalagmites hanging from the ceiling. You’ll also see an area known as the Chocolate Corridor that looks like semi-melted chocolate painted onto the walls. It includes a wall of stalactites that resembles a wall of upside-down chocolate kisses.

Nitrogen-loving bacteria hang out on the walls as well, and lava balls that form where the lava freezes mid-fall. Lava level lines, contraction cracks, blind cave insects (crickets, flatworms, and millipedes), volcano vents, and a “bowling alley” formation are also visible on the inside of the lava tube.

Note: At one time, island cattlemen used the caves as a dumping ground for slaughtered cattle. Although the owner painstakingly removed much of the remains, it’s highly possible you could find a tooth, bone fragment or other remnant.

Additionally, parts of the cave were designed to be a fallout shelter by the US Government. It’s still stocked with enough supplies for 15 people for six weeks.

Visit Us On Your Road To Hana Adventure

Hana’s Lava Tube is just one of the many lesser-known sights to see in our small corner of Maui.

Call to book your next reservations at 1-800-346-2772, or book directly online. We’re open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Hawaii time to answer all of your questions. Get in touch today to begin reserving your visit to Hana Kai Maui.

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