Some of Maui's best snorkeling can be found at Honolua Bay. Use smart suncreen practices to protect this beautiful reef!

Snorkeling in Maui - Reef Care - Sunscreen

There's nothing like snorkeling in Maui at Honolua Bay where you'll find coral and sea life in abundance! We've seen just about everything the warm waters of Maui have to offer at Honolua—green sea turtles, colorful squid, all kinds of eels, octopus, and a myriad of fish species. Its marine preserve status and vast area of healthy coral are major factors to the diverse sea life you'll find in this top snorkeling spot. To keep Honolua Bay and all of Maui's beautiful reefs healthy, it's up to each of us to be good reef stewards. Part Four of our Reef Care Tips takes a look at sunscreen use.

Smart Sunscreen Practices:  We can spend hours snorkeling Honolua Bay and often do! But if you're going to spend that kind of time in the water, you have to protect your skin or you'll regret it for the rest of your trip! With the number of people who snorkel in Maui that's a lot of sunscreen going into the water. It's estimated that up to 6000 metric tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers' bodies annually with serious potential to damage coral reefs.

Fortunately there are smart sunscreen practices you can follow to minimize your impact on the reef while still protecting your skin. First, consider using a "reef friendly" sunscreen. Tour boat operators usually offer these sunscreens on their excursions and a variety can be found on the island. Second, always apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before entering the water. Giving sunscreen time to absorb not only increases its effectiveness, but helps prevent excess sunscreen from washing into the water. And finally, consider investing in sun-protective clothing to cover your back and arms. "Skins" provide great protection and minimize the need for sunscreen. Many are UPF rated, providing an additional defense for sensitive skin or those spending hours in the sun (think surfers). You can find skins in all price ranges on Maui from surf shops to big box stores.

For more ways you can help protect Maui's beautiful reefs, check back frequently or pick up a copy of Mask Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling!

A beautiful coral reef in Maui, Hawaii.

Snorkeling in Maui – Reef Care - Fins

Whenever you're snorkeling in Maui it's important to practice good snorkeling habits to protect Maui's beautiful coral reefs.  As mentioned in our initial reef care post, coral reefs across the world are struggling to survive. Each of us must do our part to be good stewards of the reef and encourage others to do the same.  Part two of our reef care tips is about paying attention to your gear.

Watch Your Fins:  It’s easy to forget, but fins add length to your legs. Depending on the style, this can range from 18 inches to well over two feet. Make sure you account for this extra length, particularly when you’re stopped in an upright position to take a break, adjust your mask, or converse with your snorkeling companions. Too many times we’ve seen snorkelers tread water while their fins are slapping the coral below. An effective technique used by experienced snorkelers is to raise your knees up as if you’re sitting in the water. This keeps your fins up higher and further away from the coral. You'll find the salt water and your swimming ability will keep you quite buoyant without much need to tread water. If you’re unable to do this comfortably, you should use a flotation device. Life vests or snorkel belts are a great way to help less skilled swimmers feel more comfortable in the water so they can enjoy snorkeling, stay safe, and not damage the reef.

For more information on the best snorkeling spots in Maui and how you can help protect Maui's beautiful reefs, pick up a copy of Mask Fins & Snorkel:  The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling!

Never stand on coral when you're snorkeling, a beautiful coral head can be easily damaged.

Snorkeling in Maui – Reef Care – Coral

It’s a sad fact, but the world’s coral reefs are struggling to survive. Climate change, increased ocean acidity, over-fishing, hazardous run-off, and pollution are all taking their toll. Unfortunately, Maui’s reefs are not immune. Careless human interaction is also at fault. Please learn and practice good snorkeling behaviors and encourage others to do the same. Here's an important rule to keep in mind while snorkeling in Maui.

Don't Touch the Coral:  Every time a person touches coral, it can weaken and die. Whether it’s an intentional reaching out and wanting to feel the coral or a careless kick of a fin, it has the same effect. While some rationalize, “it's just a little touch,” each “little touch” adds up. Multiply it by several thousand snorkelers a year and you get the idea. Regrettably, damaged coral can be seen in many places around the island. While it should go without saying, we'll say it anyway: Please, never stand on a coral head. If you need to adjust your gear or want to visit with your snorkeling companions, always do so with plenty of clearance between you and the coral. And by the way, you should never feel shy to share this friendly reminder with other snorkelers.

For more ways you can help protect Maui's beautiful reefs, check back frequently or pick up a copy of Mask Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling!

School of Yellowfin Goatfish in Maui, Hawaii

Snorkeling in Maui – Reef Care – Fish

Maui is home to many beautiful coral reefs.  If you love snorkeling and visiting this intriguing underwater world, you'll soon realize it's up to each of us to do our part to be good stewards to the reef and the creatures who make their home there. Part three of our reef care tips looks at avoiding careless human interactions that can negatively effect fish populations.

Skip the Fish Food:  Feeding Fish was at one time a pretty popular practice while snorkeling and diving; fortunately it's a tradition that's going by the wayside. It may sound like a fun idea at first—toss out some food and watch the fish swarm around you. But this short-term thrill can have long lasting impact. It can dramatically change reef dynamics and the variety of fish that inhabit an area. Feeding fish encourages  aggressive fish and aggressive feeding behaviors that often result in pushing out other fish species.

If you find yourself approached by a horde of "Sergeants" all looking for a hand-out, it's quite possible you've snorkeled into an area that's seen heavy fish feeding. What may initially seem “cute” is quickly lost when you notice a quantifiable lack of any other kinds of fish. If you want to be a good steward while you snorkel in Maui, don't feed the fish. Remember you're the guest. If you're interested in seeing a realistic picture of "life under the surface," you'll want to avoid doing things (like fish feeding) that interfere with the natural day-to-day activities of the creatures who live there.

For more ways you can help protect Maui's beautiful reefs, check back frequently or pick up a copy of Mask Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling!

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