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Northwest Maui: Natural Beauty and Snorkeling with Honu

Northwest Maui: Natural Beauty and Snorkeling with Honu


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 05/30/2018 20:34:08
Trip Date 08/14/2017  

Destinations | Flight | Driving around Maui | Walking | Hawaii | Kapalua | Nakalele Blowhole | Snorkeling with Turtles | Dragons Teeth



For our short stay on Maui we made tentative plans before we left home for two of our three days, leaving our last day open for whatever came our way. As we had both previously spent time on the island, we hoped to include a combination of snorkeling, trying out some highly recommended restaurants plus doing some hiking / exploring on this trip. Although northwest Maui was nearly an hour away from our AirBnb, that's where we spent the better part of our first day.

If you are visiting Maui and have a rental car or access to transportation, read on for an overview of our one day itinerary (including GPS coordinates for the harder to find locations) during which we saw both natural attractions and spent time snorkeling. Excluding meals, we spent no money other than on fuel for our rental car during our day spent in the northwest corner of the island.


Breakfast at Gazebo Restaurant

We started with breakfast at the highly recommended Gazebo Restaurant (5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road; Napili, Maui, HI 96761). The drive took about 50 minutes from our Kihei AirBnb, but we were told that it was a "must do" - even with an hour long outdoor wait for a table. Since the restaurant was on the way to northwest Maui, we didn't pass it up.


Breakfast at Gazebo Restaurant

Breakfast at Gazebo Restaurant

Nakalele Blowhole

Following breakfast, we continued our clockwise drive on the coastal highways as we began exploring northwest Maui. Our first stop was at the parking area near the Nakalele Blowhole (GPS: 21.024654, -156.590895).


Strong Warning Sign near Nakalele Blowhole

Strong Warning Sign near Nakalele Blowhole

Although there were many people who hiked down to the blowhole, we chose not to risk walking on the wet, slippery rocks - even from a distance the blowhole was a natural attraction worth seeing.


The Nakalele Blowhole in Action

The Nakalele Blowhole in Action

Honolua-Mokuleia Bay

After watching the water blow through the hole, we retraced our drive on the coastal highway (going counterclockwise at this point) for just over 5 miles. We had hoped to swim with the fish in the ocean, and while in search of a good snorkel spot we came across a viewpoint (GPS: 21.017175, -156.639553) that looked down into Honolua-Mokuleia Bay. We saw a couple of boats anchored in the nearby Honolua Bay surrounded by their snorkeling passengers - we knew that if the tourist boats were taking guests to a snorkel spot it must be good!


Honolua-Mokuleia Bay

Honolua-Mokuleia Bay

We drove a little further down the road to a parking area (GPS: 21.013052, -156.639292) where we parked, grabbed our gear and hiked in to Honolua Bay to stake out a place for our beach chairs. We quickly got ready to go into the water and, with our gear we walked to the shoreline to put on our fins, masks and snorkels. We didn't waste time snorkeling close to the shoreline as it was suggested (by people leaving the bay just as we arrived) to get out a good distance from the shore for the best underwater life. We swam toward the anchored boats where we joined others who seemed to be enjoying the coral, fish and other sea creatures. We saw one fairly large school of fish but, other than that, the sea life was pretty well spread out. I really wanted to see a turtle, but after spending nearly an hour in the water, we decided to give up and head back to the shore.


Sea Life in Honolua Bay

Sea Life in Honolua Bay


Sea School in Honolua Bay

Sea School in Honolua Bay


Immediately upon starting our swim back, I spotted a large Green Sea Turtle (Honu), so we followed the turtle around for several minutes before we completed our return swim. We spent a little time in our chairs - enjoying the views while we dried off with some of Maui's local residents (the chickens) nearby.


Honu in Honolua Bay

Honu in Honolua Bay


Local Maui Resident

Local Maui Resident

Dragon's Teeth

Upon leaving Honolua Bay, we continued south (counterclockwise) until we reached the intersection with Office Road in Kapalua where we turned right. We drove toward the ocean until the road dead ended near a parking area (GPS: 21.003048, -156.655909). After parking, we walked due north between a golf course (on our left) and an ancient Hawaiian burial ground (on our right) to reach the Dragon's Teeth. If you use your imagination, you can see the teeth of a dragon along the shoreline!


Dragon's Teeth in Kapalua, Maui

Dragon's Teeth in Kapalua, Maui

After our weekend filled with travel (by car, train, foot, plane and bus), we definitely enjoyed our first day in Hawaii. (Our travel adventure had actually started on Saturday afternoon when we drove from Austin to the D/FW Airport area to be well positioned for our early Sunday morning flight. We used AAdvantage miles for our flights and, since there was no availability from Austin, we took advantage of free parking at the DART Belt Line Station followed by a short $2.50 per person train ride to D/FW.)


Tips for Visiting Northwestern Maui

If you plan to visit northwestern Maui, here's a few suggestions to help you make the most of your time:
  • For a breakfast visit to Gazebo Restaurant, either get an early start or plan to spend about an hour or more waiting in line. During our visit, the restaurant had umbrellas available in case of rain or to provide shade, and also had coffee available for waiting customers. (If there are at least two in your party, there is a small souvenir shop to peruse while one person saves your party's place in line.)
  • Make sure to wear good hiking shoes if you think there is any chance that you might want to be one of the daring few who hike down the wet slippery boulders to get a close up view of the Nakalele Blowhole.
  • If you enjoy snorkeling, it's a great idea to pack your snorkel gear for your trip to Hawaii. Also, before leaving for your trip, try to find out whether your hotel or AirBnb has beach chairs, towels or blankets available for use during your stay, and make sure to learn where and how you can borrow them. Then, before heading out toward the beach, make sure to bring them along!
  • Finally, be sure to bring your underwater camera with you. If you enjoy snorkeling (or even just spending time in the water) and don't currently own one, shop around and buy an inexpensive one. When you look back at your digital memories from your vacation, you'll be really glad you did! (We've had our underwater camera for over five years and it still works great.)
  • Although we spent all of our time snorkeling at one beach, another option is the nearby Slaughter House Beach (GPS: 21.010653, -156.642475) at Mokuleia Bay. Located just south of Honolua Bay and also visible from the viewpoint, this beach had a much larger parking area. If you have the time, consider stopping at both of these beaches for more variety.
  • If you are in need of an afternoon "pick me up", a stop at Island Cream Co. in Lahaina might make just the perfect fit. We enjoyed our treat that was advertised as "it's not ice cream, it's not gelato, it's island cream"!

Dining in Maui

For an overview of our Maui dining experiences at some highly recommended restaurants (including a more detailed review of our breakfast at Gazebo Restaurant), take a look at our post titled "Reviews: So Many Maui Restaurants, So Little Time". The post also includes information on additional restaurants that, although we didn't have the opportunity to visit, also came highly recommended.

Maui Attractions

What are your favorite places to visit on the island of Maui, and why do you favor them?




Total FitBit steps today: 7,950
Weather:84F Partly Cloudy


Northwest Maui: Natural Beauty and Snorkeling with Honu



Related Stories  

   Reviews:  So Many Maui Restaurants, So Little Time   Reviews: So Many Maui Restaurants, So Little Time

   Hikes Along the Maui Hana Highway   Hikes Along the Maui Hana Highway

Created On 05/28/2018 12:50:57  
Updated On 08/27/2018 16:25:49
Scheduled On 05/30/2018 20:34:08
Posted On 05/30/2018 20:34:08
Last Editor Stacy
Location  Honolua Bay, HI, United States
LinkId  NorthwestMaui
StoryId  1527526257480





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