Snorkeling Kahekili Beach Park – Short Swim to Live Reef
Snorkeling Kahekili is good and easy to access. The sandy beach is quite narrow and the reef is parallel to and close to shore, so it is very accessible. This reef is home to some healthy corals, turtles, and some fish. It is best to snorkel this beach in the mornings as the winds tend to pick up in the afternoons making the water rough.
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The full name of this location is Ali’i Kahekili Nui ‘Ahumanu Beach Park. It is located on the north end of Ka’anapali, directly in front of the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas. The parking lot is near the beach and there are many nice facilities.
You may see some mention of water quality issues regarding this beach. Treated water is injected into wells that exit into the ocean in many areas of Maui. The water is regularly tested and shows healthy water for people snorkeling Kahekili.
Head for the beach from the parking lot and enter the water in front of the pavilion for snorkeling Kahekili. The beach is sandy and easy in bare feet, but once you enter the water the rocks and reef start quickly, so get your fins on and float over it as soon as you can.
Where to Snorkel
The best area for snorkeling Kahekili is straight out from the pavilion, a ways out from the beach. The reef drops off to sand again about 300 feet from shore. The reef gets gradually deeper the farther out you go. Out here the corals are healthy and there are some fish and turtles. The reef runs along the shore, and keeps heading north for a long ways. But you don’t need to swim too far because you will notice that the reef health declines again after not too long of a swim.
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The reef near shore is all dead but there is a decent number of fish feeding on algae on the rocks that are fun to watch.
The visibility is not great close to shore but gets good just a short distance out. The depths range from two feet near shore to 30 feet as the reef drops off to sand again.
Watch for any currents while snorkeling Kahekili.
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What We Saw While Snorkeling Kahekili
We saw quite a few turtles on the reef while snorkeling Kahekili. We also saw decent numbers of fish and there is some healthy coral if you go to the right place.
- Blenny, Scarface
- Boxfish, Spotted
- Butterflyfish: Forceps, Fourspot, Milletseed, Multiband, Ornate, Raccoon, Teardrop, Threadfin
- Chromis, Blackfin
- Damselfish, Blue-Eye
- Eel, Whitemouth Moray
- Emperor, Bigeye
- Filefish: Barred, Fantail, Squaretail
- Goatfish: Doublebar, Manybar
- Gregory, Hawaiian
- Grouper, Peacock
- Hawkfish: Arc-Eye, Freckled
- Moorish Idol
- Needlefish, Crocodile
- Parrotfish: Bullethead, Palenose, Stareye
- Sergeant, Indo-Pacific
- Surgeonfish: Goldring, Orangeband, Whitebar
- Tang: Convict, Lavender, Yellow
- Toby, Hawaiian Whitespotted
- Trevally, Bluefin
- Triggerfish: Black, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Lei, Pinktail
- Unicornfish: Bluespine, Orangespine, Paletail
- Wrasse: Belted, Bird, Ringtail, Saddle
- Blue Rice
- Branching Rice
- Sandpaper Rice
- Thick Finger
- Sea Star, Spotted Linckia
- Urchin: Banded, Blue-Black, Collector, Pale Rock-Boring, Red Slate Pencil
Have You Seen These Guided Snorkel Travel Adventures?
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 just past Ka’anapali and the 25 mile marker turn left on Kai Ala Dr. (Puukolii St. is on the right). The large parking lot is obvious.
There are many facilities available at this nice snorkeling park including lots of shade, a pavilion, restrooms, picnic tables, showers, barbecues and grass to lie on.