As at neighboring Kihei, winter is guaranteed to offer the best visibility since summer can have consistent winds and periods of surf. Morning hours are calm and the best time for finding turtles.
Ulua Beach and Mokapu Beach
This is the perfect spot for beginning snorkelers.The best two locations for snorkeling in Wailea are Ulua Beach and Mokapu Beach, which are listed together because the rocky point that separates them is where you’ll find the most marine life and coral. Ulua (the southernmost of the two) is more protected and offers a gentle, sandy entry. This is the perfect spot for beginning snorkelers. If you’re staying at one of the Wailea resorts, you can reach the beaches by strolling along the Wailea Coastal Walk. If you are driving, there are two small public parking lots which can fill up early; arrive before 9am. To reach the parking area, turn on Ulua Beach Road off Wailea Alanui Drive just north of the Shops at Wailea, and follow the road down until the parking lots at the end.
The second most popular spot for snorkeling in Wailea is Wailea Point, a rocky promontory rife with green sea turtles that separates the Four Seasons and Fairmont Kea Lani. The easiest point of entry is from the south side of Wailea Beach in front of the Four Seasons. You’ll notice some people trying to enter and exit the water by launching off the point itself, and while this can be efficient, it’s also a great way to slip on the rocks or have a wave wash you into some sea urchins. Entering from the beach is the safest bet, although be prepared for a five-minute swim over sand.
Inside the Shops at Wailea there’s a Maui Dive Shop (3750 Wailea Alanui Rd., 808/875-9904, 8am-9pm daily) which is similar to the other stores throughout South Maui. The staff can offer good advice on snorkeling locations, it’s within walking distance of many of the hotels, and the rental prices will be cheaper than what the activity booth stands will charge inside the resorts.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.