Snorkeling Poolenalena Beach
Marvel At The Splendor

Snorkeling Poolenalena Beach is a joy. This Maui snorkel spot has it all: a long beautiful beach and some fantastic snorkel spots. In fact there are three different places you could snorkel along Po’olenalena Beach.

Note: This page is a sample from our popular Maui Snorkeling Guide eBook available here.

Snorkeling Poolenalena Beach - South End

There are two different public accesses to this beach. The south location, where the best snorkel spot is, has a small parking lot, and you access the beach through a resort property (Makena Surf Condos). The north lot is much bigger.

We took the picture below when we flew in. The rocky point to the right of the big central beach is the best snorkel spot. The tiny beach around that point to the right is Chang's Beach.

Aerial View of Poolenalena Beach with Chang's Beach

Water Entrance When Snorkeling Poolenalena

Poolenalena Oyster, Urchins and Corals

No matter which rocky point you choose, this sandy beach offers the easy entrance you would expect. There are some large rocks popping out of the beach on the south end, but they are easily avoidable. So, walk out in your bare feet until you’re ready to put your fins on.

Where To Snorkel

The three spots for snorkeling Poolenalena are the rocky points. There is one to the south, one in the middle of the beach (just north of the northern access) and one is a climb over the rocks and a walk down the beach to the north. This third one is better accessed from Palauea Beach to the north which is described in our Maui Snorkeling Guide eBook.

Snorkeling Poolenalena with Sea Turtles swimming in coral canyons.

Snorkeling Poolenalena Healthy Reef With Urchins

South End
At the very south end of Po’olenalena the snorkeling is around the big rocky point. In fact you can snorkel all the way around to Chang’s Beach. This is a stellar snorkeling spot. We recommend this as one of the best snorkeling spots in Maui. It sometimes has low visibility next to shore, so swim out a little way. Then you are treated to a great variety of coral, interesting finger reefs, and tons of fish. The depths range from 5-25 feet, which makes it that much more interesting. We also had a great time watching a turtle family feed, swim and rest. As you get farther around toward Chang’s Beach you will come along a wall that is about 40 feet deep, with caves, corals and tons of fish. It is spectacular.

Snorkeling Poolenalena Beach - Middle Rocky Point

Middle Rocky Point
What looks like the north end of the beach, is actually just a rocky point in the middle of the beach. You are pretty much next to this point when you walk down to the beach from the northern parking area. The snorkeling around this point is good. It is a small area so it won’t take long, but interesting reef formations, fairly healthy corals and fish. Some of it is a little deep for good snorkeling, so stick to the shallower stuff. This point can sometimes have wavier conditions than the ones nearby, which also lowers visibility, so use your judgement.

Poolenalena Sea Turtle

What We Saw Snorkeling Poolenalena Beach

Arc-Eye Hawkfish and Sea Urchins Poolenalena

In addition to the many turtles there were, there were also many urchins in the reef. This is what we noticed while snorkeling Poolenalena:


  • Chromis, Blackfin - schools
  • Dascyllus, Hawaiian
  • Eel, Whitemouth Moray
  • Goatfish, Yellowtail - large schools
  • Hawkfish, Arc-Eye
  • Moorish Idol
  • Puffer, Spotted
  • Unicornfish, Bluespine
  • Wrasse, Saddle


  • Antler
  • Cauliflower
  • Lobe - large heads and fields
  • Mound - large heads and fields
  • Sandpaper Rice
  • Rice
  • Thick Finger

Other Creatures:

  • Oyster, Black Lipped Pearl
  • Sea Urchin: Banded, Collector, Pale Rock-Boring, Red Slate Pencil
  • Turtles - many
Snorkeling Poolenalena Colorful Coral Reef with Chromis and Urchins

Driving Directions from Kihei

1. Head south on S. Kihei Rd. Toward the end of the road, there is an intersection where you will veer left onto Okolani Dr..

2. Go to the intersection with Wailea Alanui Dr. and turn right.

3. Follow this through the big intersection with Wailea Iki Dr. near The Shops at Wailea. Keep driving through the intersection with Kaukahi St., the road you are on is now called Makena Alanui Rd.

4. You will see Wailea Golf Club Dr. on your left and Makena Rd. on your right and shortly after that you can turn into the northern and the larger of the two parking lots. This lot has a sign that says it’s Po’olenalena Park. There is a very short walk to the beach.

Northern Poolenalena Parking Entrance
Northern Poolenalena Parking Lot

5. If you continue south on Makena Alanui Rd. there is a parking lot roadside at the Makena Surf Condos that allows public access through the property to the south end of the beach. It is marked with a blue shoreline access sign with the number 104 on it. There is a public cement path provided with a gate that you follow down to the beach.

Southern Poolenalena Parking Lot
Southern Poolenalena Blue Shoreline Access Sign
Southern Poolenalena Gate to the Public Walkway

Southern Poolenalena Public Walkway


There is a shower near the beach at the south entrance and some porta-potties in the northern parking lot.



Now check out Kapalua Beach

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