Honolua Bay, located on the upper west side of Maui just past Kapalua Golf Course, is many things to many people. It is a historical bay where ancient Hawaiians used to fish and where the famous and culturally significant Hokule’a voyaging canoe first set sail for Tahiti in 1976. It is an underwater playground for snorkelers, scuba divers, and marine biologists.
During winter months when the swells perfectly align, the bay transforms into one of the best surf breaks on the island and in the world, having hosted numerous world surfing events. The hike into Honolua Bay is also breathtaking! Walk through a dark forest of towering trees covered in overgrown vines and an abundance of green. Whatever draws you to Honolua Bay, it should definitely make your list of places to visit while vacationing on Maui.
Even if you don’t want to go in the water, this spot is worth a visit. You can’t help but be in awe walking the short half-mile trail beneath the dense and lush canopy of trees. You will see every shade of green! It is not uncommon to see professional photographers here taking once-in-a-lifetime engagement or wedding pictures. It seems as though the backdrop is straight off the set of Jurassic Park or some Hollywood movie set portraying a magical forest.
Parking can be a bit tricky. The earlier you head to Honolua Bay, the better chance you will have at finding parking just off the road. You also increase your likelihood of great snorkeling conditions as the wind may pick up later in the day. Sometimes there may even be one or two snorkeling catamarans in the bay, a good indicator that you are snorkeling at one of the top places on Maui for that day.
Do keep in mind that Honolua Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District. This means you cannot fish the waters or take things like shells, coral, or rocks with you. As with any coral reef on Maui, do not stand on any of the reef. Please also pack out any food, bottles, and wrappers you bring with you. Lastly, understand that there is no sandy beach here, but instead slippery hard rocks. Be careful getting into the water, especially if you have snorkel or scuba equipment on.
All in all, Honolua Bay is truly a magical place on Maui for so many reasons and should make any itinerary when visiting the Valley Isle. It will appeal to everyone in different ways.