Easily five stars. This was my snorkeling guide–and honestly, trip planning guide–to three weeks in Maui, both before traveling and once I arrived there.
There’s an introduction to snorkeling in general, covering etiquette, safety and general tips, then an introduction to snorkeling, as well as snorkeling in Maui. Their insight helped me clarify the months that would be better for meeting my snorkeling goals. The rest of the book is broken down by geographic areas, including Kihei, Wailea, Makena, ‘Ahihi-Kina’u, Olowalu-Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Kapalua, Molokini & Lanai. This edition also includes chapters on Maui travel tips, snorkel equipment tips, underwater photography and Hawaiian fish identification.
Clearly, everyone has different goals when snorkeling as well as different capabilities, so the authors include a table in the beginning that breaks down popular locations by their ranking, entrance type, exposure, depth, area, and fish/coral/turtle quality. That table was extremely helpful at helping me organize my priorities, as Maui has something like 80 beaches.
Maui is an interesting place to snorkel, because while there are beaches galore with sandy access to reefs, the snorkeling is generally exposed, which means currents, surge and rocks. I appreciated the guide’s advice, because even as an experienced swimmer, I felt like I had a sense of what to watch out for in each area.
Each location has the header from the table, and gives a short description of it. For instance, Polo Beach is “A small resort beach in Wailea… the paved parking lot and park area provided for public access to the beach is large with many nice facilities. The two resorts that use Polo as their house beach are the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort… like most beaches in South Maui, this one is best snorkeled before the wind and waves pick up.
Each location also includes information on the water entrance, which is nice particularly if you don’t want to take water shoes with. Where to Snorkel is quite explicit, and the same entry shows some of the detail you can expect: “Left End: start swimming out along the rocks that extend off the left end of the beach. The visibility is often very low close to shore, and there is not much to see. But, if you swim out away from the beach following the reef, the visibility improves some… the reef extends a long ways from shore but it gets deeper after about 1000 feet… if you have more energy, you can follow the reef back and keep swimming past the left end of Polo Beach and explore the area in front of the next bay over. There are patch reefs and spur and grove formations, up to about 400 feet offshore, in depths of 5-15 feet.”
Each entry also includes a list of what was seen, from fish to coral to ‘other creatures,’ which I appreciated–it helped me think about what kinds of creatures I should be looking for. They also have color photos of the beach and of various wildlife they found there.
Each entry also has driving directions, information on parking, which was invaluable in some sections, and facilities. Believe me, it’s important, because although Maui has a ton of beaches, not all have rest-rooms, most don’t have showers and very few have lifeguards. Just all the way around helpful.
I have a kindle paperwhite, so I don’t love reading it on my kindle, but the ebook format was really helpful going from beach to beach, since I always had my phone with me.