North of Lahaina and Napili on Maui, the snorkeling Kapalua Bay is popular with beginners for its protected calm waters. The best Kapalua Bay snorkeling is on the north side along the reef and rocks. You can expect to see the usual suspects: parrot fish, butterfly fish, damsel fish, wrasse, moorish idol, yellow trumpetfish, humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Hawaiian state fish aka rectangular triggerfish), spotted toby and jacks.
While the Kapalua Bay is ideal for beginners, only experienced snorkelers should go outside the bay due to strong currents. If you're lucky, you'll spot a spotted eagle ray along the way in the deep sands.
For the most part, the water clarity at Kapalua Bay is not the greatest. The best snorkeling is found along the northern edge of the bay. The marine life and reefs are not nearly as specatular at Napili Bay just to the south.
To reach the snorkeling at Kapalua Bay from the Napili Plaza on SR30, turn on Napilihau Street toward the water. Turn right on Honoapiilani Road for about one mile. At the Napili Kai Resort, turn toward the water at the Shoreline Access sign. Park in the signed lot and walk through the tunnel to access the beach. There is a paved path along the entire beach.
To reach the snorkeling on Maui by air, you will need to fly into Kahului Airport (OGG) which is located in the middle of the north coast of Maui. It is served by direct flights from the mainland US and also by inter-island flights from several other Hawaiian Islands by regional carriers. Kapalua Bay is located about 60 minutes from the Kahului Airport.
Overall, Kapalua Bay is the 12th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 21 snorkeling dives in Maui.