Snorkeling at Ulua Beach is convenient, easy, and fun. Less than seven minutes south of Maui Vista, Ulua/Makapu Beach is well marked on the Wailea/Makena road. If you see The Shops at Wailea, you’ve gone too far.
Ulua Beach is VERY popular. Parking has been expanded recently, but in high season you still may circle and wait for a parking space if you get there at the wrong time. (Early morning or around lunch time – when people are leaving – are good times.)
Ulua Beach has everything except high surf. There’s good parking, restrooms, outdoor shower, wonderful sandy beach, shade, sun, and good snorkeling. There is often a knowledgeable person from The Pacific Whale Foundation on the beach at the bottom of the walkway. He/she can answer almost any question you might ask about the beach, snorkeling, and what you see when you’re out in the water. Look for the cardtable and display. The Pacific Whale person usually has coral-friendly sunscreen you can use for free. (The oils in most sunscreens can damage the coral.)
It’s common to see LOTS of snorkelers at Ulua Beach. The reef and coral is by the rocks at the north end of the beach. It’s not hard to tell where to go – just follow everyone else. You can see the rocks jutting out into the water in the picture above. Snorkel near these rocks (but not too close). The farther out you go, the better it gets. Out a ways, the coral is very nice and there are a variety of colorful reef fish – mostly on the small side. If you’re lucky you may see a green sea turtle or a moray ell. The latter are not friendly. In the unlikely event you see one, consider yourself lucky but keep your distance.
Stay away from the rocks, watch the surf’, don’t touch the coral, and don’t step on the sea urchins! (We have a friend who did – not a pretty sight.)
If you’re a good swimmer and experienced snorkeler, try snorkeling from Ulua Beach to Mokapu Beach. Just go out toward the end of the reef and keep turning right. The only thing between Mokapu Beach and Ulua Beach is the narrow reef. Have a GREAT time!