Meander past the busyness of Lahaina and the refinement of Ka’anapali, curve past the quiet nooks of Honokawai, Napili, and Kapalua, and you’ll be welcomed to an utterly different part of Maui—one where the road grows narrow and twisty, nature booms all around you, and one of the most treasured havens in the islands rests. The name? Honolua Bay.
Roughly translating to “two harbors,” this picturesque inlet possesses prime conditions for two of Maui’s most sought-after activities: Surfing and snorkeling. The former is best enjoyed in the winter months when northwest swells bless Honolua with some of the most powerful waves not just in the Hawaiian Islands but also in the world. It’s no secret, either: Experienced surfers flock to the break, the lineup gets packed, and a couple of the leading surfing competitions take the Pacific stage. Whether you’re an avid surfer or just love to watch others glide down the waves, this is the place to be on specific, albeit rare, winter days.
Come summer, though, and the glistening waters of Honolua Bay render it a first-rate spot to dive under, where you can savor the sight of Hawaii’s aquatic wonders. The Marine Life Conservation District features an abundance of turtles, coral reefs, and fish, including peacock bass and Moorish Idols. The outer waters of the bay are also home to an array of lobsters, dolphins, and eagle rays, making it a top-notch spot for scuba divers.
Onshore and Honolua Bay is just as glorious. While its beach isn’t ideal for sunbathing, its valley and ridgeline brim with natural wonders. In fact, this area is considered one of the most culturally and archeologically important parts of Maui, as it flourishes with natural resources and was once used for sacred practices. In 1976, it also served as the site of the Hokule‘a’s maiden voyage.
Keen on learning more about the area? HeleWai Eco-Tour’s Honolua Ridgeline Hike: A Conservation Experience is your answer. This three-and-a-half-hour, super-accessible journey takes groups of no more than four to areas of the island that are otherwise prohibited. Throughout this scenic hike, you’ll learn a great deal from HeleWai’s team of passionate naturalists, from why the region is historically significant to the importance of safeguarding West Maui’s watershed and native forests. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to view Honolua’s exquisite flora and fauna and hear stories that’ll deepen your knowledge of Hawaii.