Local Island Experts

Honolua Bay (Maui, Hawaii)


Located on the north-western tip of the island of Maui, Honolua Bay is a one of the most beautiful ocean locations to be found anywhere in Hawaii. The bay itself is a part of the 45 acre Honolua-Mokule'ia Marine Conservation District and as such all corals and marine creatures inside it are federally protected. Honolua Bay has two distinct seasons, winter and summer. Winter time brings in the huge swells making it a fantastic surfing spot while in the summer time there are fewer waves and the bay is an excellent location for snorkeling and scuba diving. Regardless of what season it is, Honolua Bay is a place that is worth seeing.

Honolua Bay, Quick Facts

Name: Honolua Bay
Size: 45 Acre marine preserve.
Schedule: N/A
Sand Type: Rocks.
Bottom Type: Reef.
Lifeguard: No.
Honolua Bay is best for: Bodyboarding, photography/admiring the natural beauty, snorkeling, surfing.
Facilities: None.
Hazards: Buried rocks, dangerous shorebreak, high winds, large waves, sharp reef, strong currents, unstable cliffs.
Parking: Dirt, street parking.
Access: Dirt path.
How difficult is it to get to Honolua Bay: Moderate.

Honolua Bay is so beautiful that it is worth the drive out there just to see it, regardless of whether you choose to get into the water or not.

Honolua Bay is so beautiful that it is worth the drive out there just to see it, regardless of whether you choose to get into the water or not.

If you do choose to get into the water you should use caution. The surf that comes in here can be very large and powerful and it is not uncommon for surfers to hit the reef so hard that they are knocked out and drown. Only the most advanced surfers should even consider paddling out here. However, when there are no waves at Honolua Bay the snorkeling is great!

Snorkeling and Diving at Honolua Bay

During the summer months Honolua Bay is truly one of the very best snorkel locations on Maui. The ocean conditions during the summer are usually calm and the visibility underwater is commonly 75 to 100 feet. Huge and colorful coral heads abound and the protected status of this underwater marine sanctuary provides a spectacular venue for viewing fish and other marine life. In fact, it is likely that you may find some fish and small sea creatures at Honolua that you've never seen before. The bay itself has wide expanse of shallow areas which makes it perfect for snorkeling. If you prefer diving pretty much the whole bay is accessable with the deepest portion being an excellent wall dive that is only a bit more then fifty feet. Entry to the bay for snorkeling is best from the craggy rock-lined beach at the mouth of the bay (the other option is to go out where the surfers do from the side of the bay).

When the waves are breaking at Honolua Bay it is one of the most amazing places on Maui to see some amazingly talented surfers on some truly world class waves. The fact that the bay is positioned so the large winter swells peel down the right side of the bay while being held up by the off shore tradewinds is a near perfect combination. However, it is not always like this. Good surfing at Honolua generally only occurs during the winter months.

Surfing at Honolua Bay (Jake Barefoot in photo)

Honolua Bay is commonly the location for surfing contests. The contests range from casual local events to professional ones where sponsors erect huge tents and top pros fly out from all over the world. Spectating at these events is always fun, the high cliffs surrounding the bay provide an almost perfect amphitheater from which to stare down at the participants. The sight of the world best surfers facing off with some of the most perfectly formed waves in the world is truly amazing and if your lucky enough to be here during a contest you might want to consider driving out to see it.

Aside from the amazing views and ocean activities Honolua Bay does not have a tremendous amount in terms of facilities for its visitors. Parking can be found along the side of the road near the mouth of the bay and up on the bluffs above the surf breaks on the north extremity of the bay. Bathroom facilities consist of a couple port-a-toilets and there are no picnic tables. From the parking spots on the road at the mouth of the bay you will have about a five-minute walk to the shoreline on a dirt access trail. The shoreline is mostly rock with patches of course sand so if you're looking for a place to lay out to sunbathe you should go somewhere else.

How do you get to Honolua Bay?

To get to Honolua Bay you can go two ways. You can hike there through the bottom of the valley and go snorkeling or you can scale down the cliffs and go surfing. Many people also choose to stay at the top of the cliffs by where the surfers walk down to spectate.

Sufer's Parking: As you drive up the northern edge of the valley you will see a dirt road making it's way down the cliff on the left side of the road. Turn here and find a place to park on the edge of the road.

Surfer's Parking

Snorkelers Parking: For snorkelers it is generally easier to park on the side of the road at the bottom of the valley just past the small bridge and then make your way down the access trail to the coastline. Here you can carefully get into the water from the cobblestone beach that lines the shore.

Honolua Bay Snorkelers Parking Lot


*Snorkeler's parking lot.

Ocean Caution

Please be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be potentially dangerous including Honolua Bay. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering the water and of course, never turn your back on the ocean when you are on the shoreline. It should also be noted that all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water. There are no lifeguards at this location.




Related Categories

Hawaii snorkeling is by far the single most popular category of activities to be found in Hawaii. One reason for this is that snorkeling in Hawaii is often a component of many different types of tours found on any individual island such as many of the dolphin watches, whale watches, diving tours, raft excursions and even in some cases dinner cruises.

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