Best 5 Maui Kayak Tours
On Maui, being on the ocean in the early morning calm offers magic like nothing else. The air is cool, and the water is warm. The tradewinds have ceased overnight, and the sun slowly creeps out from behind the shadow of Haleakala, penetrating the glassy, deep blue of the sea. From the seat of a kayak, the magic is tangible.
Kayak tours are one of the most unforgettable ways to experience the ocean on Maui. Rather than being packed like sardines on a big-name tour boat, kayak tours give visitors a more intimate connection to the sea. From the ancient corals at Olowalu to the more recent lava flows near Makena, there are a network of reefs begging to be explored and several kayak tours willing to take you there. Here are the best kayak tours offered on Maui:
Home to craggy lava coves and generally calm morning conditions, Makena is one of the most ideal places to kayak on Maui. This three-hour tour takes to the seas outside the Makena area, where guests will be provided everything necessary to explore South Maui’s vibrant coral reefs. This tour includes kayak instruction, paddles, life jackets, and snorkel gear.
After getting the hang of paddling, your guide will find a sandy spot to anchor, and you can slip into the blue for a snorkeling adventure. The reefs around Makena are known for their abundance of sea turtles, tropical fish, bright corals, and sometimes even rays.
This kayak tour is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to experience Maui’s reefs. No diesel engines, no plastic waste, and your passionate guide will happily share knowledge and ocean etiquette with you.
Know before you go:
● Plan ahead! This excursion only operates Monday-Friday.
● This tour runs seasonally from April 15 – December 31.
● It’s probably not a good idea to bring valuable items on this tour, but dry bags are provided to store necessary items like keys, wallets, etc.
● Traveling with kids? Great! This tour is family-friendly, available to children 5 and up.
If you find yourself on Maui during the winter months, there is no better way to get to know Maui’s largest part-time residents than from a kayak. Also departing from Makena, this three-hour tour heads into the heart of humpback whale’s favorite Maui hangout. The shallow waters off South Maui are abundant with humpback whales, which are easy to spot in the morning stillness. Under the surface, you’ll be able to hear the whales’ bellowing song. Your guide will be happy to share fascinating stories and facts about these majestic creatures.
Before heading back to land, you’ll also explore one of Makena’s best reefs. Here you’ll likely spot another much smaller ocean dweller: green sea turtles. Here you’ll be free to snorkel until it’s time to head back to the landing.
Know Before You Go:
● This tour only runs when the whales are in town. Dates are available to book from January 1 to April 15.
● No snorkeling gear? No problem. All the fixings for a great snorkel trip are provided for you.
● This tour is available to guests 10 years of age and older.
Olowalu Kayak Tour
Highly regarded as one of the best places to snorkel on the island, Olowalu is home to a thriving ancient reef. Some of the corals here are over 500 years old! Olowalu is also home to a unique “turtle cleaning station,” where green sea turtles hang out in hopes that fish will clean algae off their flippers and shell. Tropical fish congregate here, waiting for turtles to pull up for cleaning. The reef here extends for miles, and without the help of the marine naturalist aboard your kayak tour, you’d be unlikely to find the cleaning station on your own.
During this three-hour tour, you’ll savor stunning views of the steep West Maui Mountains, as well as Haleakala and the neighboring islands. This tour also provides guests with free digital photos of their adventure!
Know before you go:
● This tour runs year-round, but plan for December through April if you’re interested in spotting some whales.
● To ensure all guests get special attention from guides, a maximum of 10 people are welcome on this tour.
● Free digital photos are available; your Instagram followers will thank you.
● Sorry non-swimmers, swimming ability is a requirement on this tour.
Turtle Town Kayak Tour
Located offshore of South Maui, Turtle Town is a strip of reef that runs along the Makena area. Famous for its abundance of turtles, this area is a favorite stop for large tour boats. Not to worry, there are countless coves, nooks, and crannies to explore in turtle town, and aboard this three-hour kayak tour, you’ll be doing just that.
Accompanied by a certified guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of kayaking. This tour, in particular, emphasizes culture and education. For example, you’ll learn about why coral reefs are vital to Hawaii’s ecosystem, as well as the cultural significance of the Hawaiian green sea turtle.
Know before you go:
● Unlike whales, turtles can be spotted year-round here in Hawaii. This tour operates all seasons of the year.
● Pics, or it didn’t happen. Free digital photos are available to all guests.
● Fins, masks, and snorkels are provided.
Molokini Kayak Challenge
The world-renowned Molokini Crater is easily the most famous snorkeling site in Hawaii. This offshore crater attracts hundreds of thousands of snorkelers every year. Typically, visitors are shuttled in on tour boats. But if you’re up to the challenge, and looking for an unforgettable adventure, consider kayaking to Molokini on a private tour.
This kayak tour departs Makena Landing at first light and beelines the 3.5 miles to Molokini Crater. Folks up to the challenge are rewarded with stunning views of Haleakala Crater and the treat of being some of the first snorkelers at Molokini. If conditions allow, you’ll also be able to paddle around to Molokini’s sheer back wall.
Your adventure comes complete with free digital photos, snorkel gear, and a marine naturalist guide. This tour is offered year-round, and in whale season, you are almost guaranteed to spot whales during your 3.5-mile paddle.
Know before you go:
● Molokini might look close enough to swim to, but don’t let it fool you. This tour is challenging and recommended only to those in perfect physical condition.
● This is certainly an adventure to remember. Thankfully a photographer will be there to capture the excitement and provide free digital photos.
● This tour operates year-round, but excursions in whale season are particularly exciting.
Still can’t decide?
Here is some more information on Maui Activities.