Snorkeling Black Rock – Popular Spot That Begs Caution

Maui, Hawaii

Snorkeling Black Rock at Ka’anapali Beach is very popular. Despite being busy, it is a big beautiful beach, so we have never had trouble finding our own space.

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

Snorkeling Black Rock - with the sandy beach and resorts in the background.

The snorkeling is on the north end of the beach around Black Rock, the rocky point. Black Rock itself is considered a Hawaiian historic area and the Hawaiian name is Pu’u Keka’a. We find snorkeling Black Rock to be good, but not great. There is really no reef to speak of, just a little coral on the rock wall, and lots of fish. The snorkeling is along the wall, and out around the point where there can be a very strong current, so stay aware and only go out if it is calm.

Right side of Black Rock beach, showing the point.

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Ka’anapali Beach is home to some ritzy dining, hotels, and shopping. The resorts on the north end of the very long Ka’anapali Beach, within a reasonable walk of snorkeling Black Rock, are Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa, Outrigger Ka’anapali Beach Resort, Aston at The Whaler on Ka’anapali Beach, and The Westin Maui Resort and Spa. Several big catamarans come to shore on this beach to pick up and drop off charter guests, as well.

If you are not staying at a resort in the area, you can still access this snorkel spot. There is a public parking option, though it is limited, so it is best to come early to guarantee parking.

Getting to the Beach

Black Rock public shoreline access path

From the parking garage (described in the driving directions below), walk out and around to the right. There is a 750 foot long sidewalk, marked by a blue shoreline access sign (No. 213), that leads you to the beach. Once you reach the beach you need to walk to the right another 750 feet on the beach to get to the water entrance for snorkeling Black Rock.

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Water Entrance When Snorkeling Black Rock

This beautiful sandy beach is made for bare feet. Walk to the very north end of the beach and get in the water. Walk out until you can float and put your fins on.

Where to Snorkel

School of goatfish at Black Rock

The edge of the rock itself is the route you follow, otherwise, it is a sandy bottom. On the rock there are many dead corals, but some alive corals, too. If you are inexperienced, don’t go around the point. If you are more experienced you can, but be aware as mentioned above that strong currents are frequent, and wavy conditions can compound the potential danger.

After you round the first point, there is a small cove that you can explore inside. If you swim around the outside of the farthest point, it turns into a vertical flat wall over a sandy bottom about 30 feet deep. Make sure to periodically take a look into the deep blue water over the sand, you may be in for a treat. We usually see a Spotted Eagle Ray swimming off into the deep blue off the point. There are many fish all around the rock. We also saw seven turtles our last time snorkeling Black Rock. Many of them were along the vertical wall outside the farthest point, but there were a few close to shore as well.

The water clarity when snorkeling Black Rock is often fantastic, so even when it gets pretty deep you can see some neat stuff.

Blurry Fish, Rotten Colors, Garbage Pictures

That does not look like what I saw! See our snorkeling camera pages for tips on selecting a good snorkeling camera, and how to use it for great pictures.

Spotted Eagle Ray over a sandy bottom at Black Rock

What We Saw While Snorkeling Black Rock

This is a good spot to see a good number of fish, though they are not in big variety. We saw turtles and Spotted Eagle Rays while snorkeling Black Rock too.


School of tropical fish at Black Rock.
  • Boxfish, Spotted
  • Butterflyfish: Forceps, Multiband, Raccoon
  • Chromis: Blackfin, Chocolate Dip, Oval
  • Chub
  • Cornetfish
  • Damselfish, Blue-Eye
  • Dascyllus, Hawaiian
  • Eel, Stout Moray
  • Emperor, Bigeye
  • Filefish, Squaretail
  • Flagtail, Hawaiian
  • Goatfish: Manybar, Whitesaddle, Yellowfin, Yellowstripe – large schools, many
  • Grouper, Peacock
  • Hawkfish: Freckled, Stocky
  • Lizardfish, Clearfin
  • Moorish Idol
  • Needlefish: Crocodile, Keeltail
  • Parrotfish: Bullethead, Stareye
  • Sergeant: Blackspot, Hawaiian, Indo-Pacific
  • Soldierfish, Bigscale
  • Surgeonfish: Orangeband, Whitebar, Whitespotted
  • Tang: Achilles, Convict, Lavender, Sailfin, Yellow
  • Triggerfish: Black, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Picasso
  • Trumpetfish
  • Unicornfish: Bluespine, Orangespine, Paletail, Sleek
  • Wrasse: Belted, Bird, Christmas, Saddle
Cushion Sea Star at Black Rock


  • Antler
  • Blue Rice
  • Branching Rice
  • Cauliflower
  • Lobe
  • Rice

Other Creatures:

  • Eagle Ray, Spotted
  • Sea Cucumber, Black
  • Sea Star: Cushion, Spotted Linckia
  • Turtle – many
  • Urchin: Banded, Blue-Black, Collector, Pale Rock-Boring, Red Slate Pencil
  • Zoanthid, Pillow
Two Green Sea Turtles at Black Rock.

Driving Directions From Kihei

1. In Kihei get on Hwy 31 (Piilani Hwy) or S. Kihei Rd. heading north.

2. When you reach the intersection with Hwy 311 (Mokulele Hwy) and Hwy 310 (N. Kihei Rd.) turn onto Hwy 310 (N. Kihei Rd.).

3. Follow to the next intersection with Hwy 30 (Honoapiilani Hwy) and turn left, heading initially south. This road is what you could follow to the north shore of West Maui.

4. You will pass by Lahaina and turn into Ka’anapali on Ka’anapali Parkway. If you see the 24 mile marker, you just missed your turn.

5. Go to the end and make the loop and turn right into the first parking garage marked for public beach access. The garage is open from 7am to 7pm. There is parking further down the road if necessary, but this is closest to Black Rock. Just south of the garage is the walking path to the beach.

Parking garage for snorkeling Black Rock


None, unless you are staying on the beach, then you can use those of your resort.

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