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Tips To Enjoying Your Next Snorkeling Outing

A Beginners Maui Snorkel Guide

Snorkeling is always high on visitors to do list and rightly so. It’s an insider’s glimpse into another world and truly a Hawaii experience because of the unique sea life to Hawaii’s warm waters. On top of that, snorkeling lacks the need for any bulk gear or considerable effort needed to lug around a surf board and any related equipment.

However, for all the visitors that are thinking of snorkeling, I want to warn of the inherent risks associated with the activity. As of 1/25/18, SIX PEOPLE HAVE DROWNED ON MAUI WITHIN 11 DAYS. Drowning is annually among the leading causes of fatal injuries in Hawaii — and the leading cause of fatal injury among visitors. Although that may be a bit startling, some people are more at risk than others.

An epic shot of Hana, courtesy of Dom Marino

The majority of snorkeling deaths and accidents have been seen in people who are 50+ where there was some element of cardiac arrest. While snorkeling is an awesome experience, it is not worth possibly injuring yourself or placing your life at risk. It requires an intense amount of physical exertion and places an increased workload on the heart. Besides the physical requirements, there is a mental component at play that can cause panic in some individuals.

While snorkeling may not seem too hard, it’s not quite as simple as just grabbing a mask, putting on the fins, and off you go. It takes mental strength and clarity, physical strength, and knowing our limits. We would like to take the time to provide some snorkeling tips, safety rules, and a couple of snorkeling hacks to help you on your next snorkeling adventure. 

Sayles Team Snorkeling Guide

Seek Medical Expertise

While our guide is intended to informative and to help raise awareness, we do not want to discourage visitors from exploring snorkeling. Maui is an outdoor activities oriented island, so do still seek your Maui Adventure! For people over 50, they should take some extra precautions:

  • Visit your primary physician or cardiologist to discuss any risks
  • Stay healthy by exercising on a weekly basis, not smoking, and eating healthy
  • Actually seeing your doctor on a regular basis

Use the Buddy System

We all know what the buddy system is. Always go with a partner and continuously check on one another to make sure everything is going as planned. While having a human buddy can help ensure safety, I also recommend taking a floating device with you on your snorkel trips. Body/boogie boards work best since you can strap it to your leg and have it follow you as you swim. Body boards are great because you can float on them while you catch your breath.

Lifeguard Beaches

No lifeguard here, courtesy of Dom Marino

Not all beaches on Maui have lifeguards, so preferring to go to beaches where they are present is always a good idea. However, do not use them as a catch all safety net. They do their best to continuously scan the beach for any threats, but they are human and you need to account for the time it takes for them to respond to an emergency.

Monitor Your Surroundings

Always be aware of where you are in relation to the shoreline. The underwater world is full of intriguing sea life and it is to get caught up in following little Nemo. However, you must remember you are not the only person enjoying the ocean. Sometimes there are kayakers, SUPers, and surfers all operating within 50 yards of one another doing their thing. So be sure to keep an eye out for others and of the incoming sets (waves). If there are SUPers or surfers, then there is most likely moderate waves rolling through. Also, snorkelers are harder to see than you think; they keep a low profile and don’t move much, so do not assume everyone else can see you.

Check the Weather


The ideal snorkel day, courtesy of Dom Marino

If it has rained hard in the days leading up to your planed day of snorkeling, the inshore waters will most likely be muddy and opaque which makes it not ideal conditions. If there is high surf posted for that day, you will get tossed around and not see anything. If it is grey and cloudy, there will be less light penetrating the water and you won’t have such a good view. A quick weather check can ensure you pick the right day for your epic ocean adventure.

Shark Bait

Sharks are most typically active at dawn and dusk, and will come nearest the shore when the water is muddy. Although shark bites are rare and more likely  to get bit by your 4 year old, there is no reason to play shark bait. Sharks hunt by smell and are attracted by blood in the water. So if you have any cuts that are actively bleeding do not go in the water!

Contact a Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Specialist

Please interview me to be your trusted Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Advisor. I was born and raised on the island, and spend a considerable amount of time to inform my clients about the best deals currently on the market. Please do not hesitate to call me for your Maui real estate needs. I am more than happy to assist you in your home search.


Anthony Sayles R(S)

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