Best Boat Tours in Maui

Catamaran tours, kayak itineraries and even underwater navigation. The second largest island of Hawaii will surprise you with its crystalline sea where thousands of different species live.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

7 min read

Best Boat Tours in Maui

Maui | ©Brian Lauer

Hawaii is characterized by its extraordinary landscape: large rock cliffs that end in the sea, impressive vegetation and constant sunshine attract a large number of tourists in the archipelago. If you are thinking of Maui as your next destination, you will not regret it.

Maui offers many attractions and it is difficult to choose the best ones. However, any trip to the island should include a boat ride. Below you will find the most recommended options.

1. West coast snorkeling tour

Molokini Crater Snorkeling| ©Allie_Caulfield
Molokini Crater Snorkeling| ©Allie_Caulfield

The west side is probably the best of the island. Here you will find the cities of Lahaina and Ka'anapali as well as resorts and luxury hotels. These catamaran tours depart from the latter town and travel along this stretch of coastline inhabited by sea turtles and Hawaiian spinner dolphins.

The excursions include not only the rental of snorkeling equipment, but also two meals (breakfast and lunch), cocktails, soft drinks and an expert guide.

Once back at Ka'anapali, you can have a drink or a cold beer at Leilani's beach bar (2435 Kaanapali Parkway, Bldg. J 1, Whalers Village)

  • Duration: about 4 hours
  • Price: about 150 €
  • Recommended for those who want to do a complete activity without spending too much money

Book a boat tour to the west coast of Maui with snorkeling

2. Turtle Town kayak tour

Kayaking in Turtle Town| ©Steve Isaacs
Kayaking in Turtle Town| ©Steve Isaacs

Turtle Town is a dive site between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach, along the south coast of Maui. Underwater, a coral reef grown over a lava formation has become the home of green turtles.

They are curious animals, accustomed to proximity to humans. If you move carefully, the turtles will approach you and you will have the opportunity to take some very nice pictures. By the way, don't forget to buy a disposable waterproof camera before you leave or once in Maui.

These routes usually reach Turtle Town by kayak. The starting point is Makena Beach, one of the best on the island. If you don't have your snorkeling equipment, you don't have to worry about anything. The agencies usually have equipment that is included in the price of the excursion.

  • Duration: about 3 hours
  • Price: about 80 €
  • Recommended for those who want to make an experience in small groups. Normally, these trips involve a maximum number of 10 people.

Book your kayak tour to Turtle Town

3. Mini cruise with snorkeling in Molokini Crater

Going to Molokini Crater| ©David Bacon
Going to Molokini Crater| ©David Bacon

The island of Molokini is a caldera, i.e. a large depression formed after the eruption and collapse of a volcano. The part that remains above the surface is the only thing that has survived the explosion and in the depths you will see underwater terraces and ledges.

The navigation departs from the port of Maalaea and is done in a 3-deck catamaran. Despite its height, the boat is very stable even when the sea is rough. To enter the water you have two options: the diving steps or two slides.

In these waters proliferate manta rays, humpback whales, monk seals, moray eels and other species. It is a marine sanctuary and visibility can reach 50 meters. For all these reasons, I consider Molokini Crater one of the best places to snorkel in Maui.

Most of the time, the price includes breakfast, lunch and both hot and cold drinks. You also don't have to worry about snorkeling gear, which is usually provided by the tour operators.

By the way, if you are looking for accommodation and don't want to spend too much, I recommend taking a look at Maalaea. It is a less touristy area, without hotels and well connected to the other localities of Maui.

  • Duration: more than 5 hours
  • Price: from 130 €
  • Recommended to those who want to snorkel in a unique place. The coral reefs are home to 250 different species and the absence of sandy bottoms means that the waters are always crystal clear.

4. Sunset sailboat tour with open bar

Sailing in Maui| ©Curt Smith
Sailing in Maui| ©Curt Smith

A mini cruise for small groups departing from the port of Ka'anapali. During the navigation you can drink whatever you want while enjoying the sunset.

Between December and April, with a little luck you will have other sailing companions: the whales. For more information, I recommend you check out the post about whale watching in Maui.

In addition to drinks, the tours usually include a local snack: pupus, an assortment of small appetizers: teriyaki, chicken wings, poke and virtually any type of food that can be prepared and eaten on social occasions.

  • Duration: about 2 hours
  • Price: from 80 €
  • Recommended to those who

Book a sunset sailboat tour in Maui

5. Atlantis underwater experience

Atlantis Submarine surfacing to the surface| ©gadgetdude
Atlantis Submarine surfacing to the surface| ©gadgetdude

An excursion for medium-sized groups in an authentic submarine: what more could you ask for. Unlike traditional bathyscaphs, this one is characterized by less narrow spaces (but don't expect big spaces either) and a porthole in front of each seat.

This curious submersible departs from the port of Lahaina, one of the most beautiful towns on the island. Please note that, in most cases, the excursions do not include pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.

The Atlantis submarine tours are very popular with the youngest members of the family. Unfortunately, not everyone can participate. For safety reasons, children must be at least 36 inches tall.

You will sail along the coastline, about 100 feet below the surface. Along the way, you will reach the Carthaginian, a replica of a whaling ship. It was sunk in 2005 to become home to dolphins, sharks, turtles and other species.

  • Duration: 2 hours or a little more
  • Price: between 250 € and 300 €
  • Recommended for family travelers

Book your Atlantis Submarine excursion in Maui

6. Sunset dinner cruise

Maui sunset| ©Ted
Maui sunset| ©Ted

Do you want to surprise your partner? If the answer is yes, I recommend you to book a mini sunset cruise. The boats depart from the port of Lahaina and travel along a stretch of the coastline. Along the way, you'll enjoy live music in addition to the splendid panoramas.

Routes usually stop at:

  • Ka'anapali, one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. It is located in the west of Maui, where the vegetation is more exuberant
  • Lanai, also known as the pineapple island. It is located a few miles from Maui and is home to resorts and golf courses, cultural sites and the namesake town. You also have the opportunity to go horseback riding or helicopter rides. If you are curious, you can visit it by taking a ferry from Expeditions
  • Puu Kukui, a mountain with more than 1700 meters high. It is surrounded by a large park belonging to the state of Hawaii where dozens of endangered species live. You will admire its silhouette from the waters
  • Baby Beach, a beach with calm waters, ideal if you visit Maui with children
  • Puamana Beach Park, a stretch of coastline frequented mainly by local surfers

The amount usually includes a dinner with main course, side dish and dessert. If it's on the menu, I recommend you try the Hawaii-style chicken, a recipe with red bell pepper, pineapple and sweet and sour sauce.

  • Duration: between 2 and 3 hours
  • Price: around 50 €
  • Recommended for those who are looking for a complete plan and don't want to spend too much.

Book a Maui dinner cruise

Is this an activity you can do with children?

Maui| ©BirdsEyePix
Maui| ©BirdsEyePix

Of course you do. Most of the activities - perhaps with the exception of the open bar tour - are designed for a general public, including families.

Remember to protect them from the sun with a hat and sunscreen. The price of the excursions includes water and soft drinks, which are necessary to keep them hydrated.

Another activity that the little ones usually like is the visit to the waterfalls of Maui. The waterfalls are very suggestive and, in most cases, bathing is allowed. They will feel like little adventurers.

Why should I choose a boat tour?

Maui| ©weber_sd
Maui| ©weber_sd

How often are you lucky enough to be in a dream place like Maui? No trip to Hawaii should be without a mini cruise. There are routes of various types, designed to meet the demands of different audiences.

There is also another factor to take into account: Hawaii is a moderately expensive destination and an organized excursion allows you to save money. The total amount usually covers the boat transfer, water and soft drinks, snorkeling equipment rental and food. Remember that you are in the United States and tipping is required.

In case you are unlucky and encounter bad weather, you can quench your thirst for the sea at the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium (192 Maalaea Road, Wailuku).

Buy your ticket to the Maui Ocean Center

What do I need to bring on a boat tour in Maui?

Before snorkeling in Maui| ©H. Michael Miley
Before snorkeling in Maui| ©H. Michael Miley

For daytime excursions, sunscreen is highly recommended. Beware, not all of them work! The state of Hawaii has banned chemical sunscreens. It serves to safeguard the environment: substances such as oxybenzone and octinoxate are very harmful to coral.

To protect you from the sun, a hat is always a good ally and should be in your backpack. It is also worth taking some small mats or floats to help you during swimming. As for snorkeling equipment, it is usually provided by the agencies that organize the tours.

Are there other excursions with other means of transportation?

Jeep on Road to Hana| ©David Brooks
Jeep on Road to Hana| ©David Brooks

Of course it is. There are different options to visit the island. You can also opt for a jeep tour in Maui that will take you along the famous Road To Hana. Its 84 kilometers alternate tropical forests, waterfalls, a rushing river and scenic spots that will take your breath away.

Another alternative are the helicopter rides in Maui. They last less time and are more expensive but a bird's eye view is priceless. There are also experiences that combine a flight and a jeep or minivan ride.