Overview of Olowalu


Hawaiian Islands


Olowalu is a stretch of beach perfect for sunning, and beginner snorkeling and diving. Bring water with you. Our entry can be found at the 14.1 mile mark.

Directions: Travel North on Highway 31 until about mile mark 14. Stop toward the Northern end of the beach.


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10/13/2018 Jeremy (Avg: 2.76 Review) - The reef is extremely stressed. I snorkeled/freedove 300y straight out from the parking lot and 500-600y north. Maybe I didn't find the right place, but all I saw was a bunch of dead coral.

11/24/2011 Nathan Miller (Avg: 3.73 Review) - Just like the picture shows, parking right at the end of the guard rail is best (right after the no passing lane ends). We had great success walking about 15 yards north back behind the guard rail and made entry there where there is a easily navigable sand channel that heads due south, entry and exit could not possibly be easier. This reef is so large and vibrant it could take hundreds of dives to fully explore it. Great reef, and when we were there (8:30am in November) there was nobody else on the beach when we entered, and just a few when we exited. 40-50' vis with no currents or surge. Early morning is best when there are zero waves as any waves here due to the shallow and expansive reef are going to cause great trouble and ruin all vis. As others have said, there's a permanent shark occupancy sign; however, we did not see any and we went out as far as our air supply would allow.

04/21/2011 Napua (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Please be careful when swimming at Olowalu. According to Hawaii state aquatics education specialist Russell Sparks, Olowalu is the only place in the state where there are permanent shark warning signs posted. The signs were posted permanently in 2002 after 3 shark attacks occurred (1 was fatal).

06/18/2009 Jerry GoDiveMaui.Com (Avg: 3.66 Review) - There is a single sand channel entry to an expansive shallow reef south of Lahaina and the Olowalu general store. The easiest way to find this dive site is to watch for the mile markers. Coming from Lahaina, travel south on Hono Piilani Hwy through the community of Olowalu. The Olowalu general store and Chez Paul's will be one your left. Shortly after you'll pass mile marker 15. Travel another mile to the 14th mile marker. If the marker is missing, there is a Bike route sign there on the left but facing oncoming traffic. So coming from Kihei count up mile markers after you come through the Pali Tunnel and look for the Bike route sign one mile past mile marker 14. It is important that you enter exactly here. There are other channels but none deep enough to accommodate divers and their equipment. Other entries may damage you but will certainly damage the reef. On the shallow reef there is lots of evidence of coral abuse. You may notice snorkelers standing on reef. Check your rage and gently let them know they are damaging the reef. Park as close to the Rubbish bin as you can and walk straight to the water from there. There are no facilities at this beach but there are port a potties at Ukumehame beach just under 2 mile east, toward Kihei. You'll notice the light shade of the sand channel which distinguishes it from the surrounding shallow reef. Wear your shoes or boots on this beach. They will offer some protection from the Kiawe thorns often hidden in the sand. On the dive you'll see large bird wrasse, surge wrasse and both red and blur parrot fish before you leave the sand channel. The channel is also the best place to spot peacock flounder. Swimming south you'll come to what looks like a dead end. There is a shallow crack just behind the giant finger coral ball. Swim south through it to find a large sand pit about 15 -17 feet deep. Look under ledges here for spinney, white spot and stars stripes puffer fish. A more obvious southward crack leads to the second larger sand pit. Stay to the left until you come to a small rubble pile then turn south across the sand pit and on a bit more to the first turtle cleaning station. Lots of coral growth, provides hiding places for octopus crabs and eels, which makes them hard to find. The turtles on the other hand aren't. There are 2 turtle cleaning stations. After the first stay south to about 27 feet depth there will be 3 sand channels to your left cross all 3 going east and further on for about a total of 75 kick cycles and you'll find another cleaning station at a drop off to about 45 - 50 feet and a large heart shaped sand pit which can be seen in Google earth images.

11/27/2008 Chris Barker (Avg: 1.46 Review) - I really did not approve of this site, particularly the dangerous and frightening tiger shark I saw. I still saw many colorful fish, though, including a ray.

02/10/2008 Kendall Roberg (Avg: 4.10 Review) - I reviewed this site 3 years ago and feel I have to give Olowalu a new review after finally diving the site properly. The key is entering the correct spot and good navigation skills. The easiest entry is found exactly at mile marker 14. Find the sign and walk out. You will be able to see the bright blue sand path through the coral channels. Follow this out and when this channel seems to end, just swim over the channel blocking corals and you'll start a new channel. The fish life here is quite impressive. This is the best place I have seen to see several variety of parrot fish and wrasse. There is also a turtle cleaning station and plenty or turtles around. There have been tiger shark sightings here and I have been told to avoid this site when the water is murky. The bigger threat is the popularity of this site with snorkelers. This site is featured in all the guide books and the beach and surface can get a little crowded if you are snorkeling.

10/29/2007 Bill Stohler (Avg: 2.87 Review) - Olowalu Beach is a fairly long stretch of informal beach parks located along the highway to Lahaina. There aren't many facilities here, and based on my one attempt to dive the site, I'd recommend snorkeling and not scuba. It's very shallow for a very long ways out! Maybe there's a secret deeper channel...if you find it, you're luckier than I! I have a friend who was working on a snorkel boat...as they were watching a green sea turtle surface for air, CHOMP! A tiger shark took the turtle out....and the tourists went elsewhere to snorkel! IMHO, it's not worth an attempt to dive (at least from shore).

06/15/2007 Mike Bannon (Avg: 3.32 Review) - An amazing spot for coral! I dive all over Maui and this is a superb spot for an easy dive with lots of coral. Follow the sand trails through the reef. If there is a south swell, vis is terrible-- otherwise this is a great spot.

10/08/2005 Kendall Roberg (Avg: 3.07 Review) - I have snorkeled here 3 or 4 times and scuba dove here yesterday. If you do not follow one of the sandy channels out, this place is dangerous. The coral is inches under the water sometimes and swimming over it (especially with scuba gear) could cause injury to you and the corals. The visibility was not that great. Even 200 yards off shore it was still pretty bad. To be fair, if there is good visibility and calm seas, I can see this as being one of the best snorkeling sites in Maui.

03/27/2005 Gary Harmon (Avg: 3.53 Review) - Commonly called 14 mile marker. Go in the morning, surf is up in the afternoons. Nice snorkel, but if you go out through the shallow reef, make sure you can find the same way back. Love2snorkel

10/06/2004 Brian Herr (Avg: 3.31 Review) - As snorkelers, me and my wife are very at home here. We like to do something to get the blood flowing early in the morning, and were never disappointed here. The visibility can be bad on some days, but that's life on the islands. It's worth it to just stop and lie on the beach for a while, too!

06/03/2004 Annette Lohman (Avg: 3.30 Review) - Dove this site a couple of days ago as part of a fish ID survey. Quite murky close to shore. Further out vis improves a lot. Many channels/coral formations for fish to hide in and find. Lots of fish, some turtles. Look in the rocks & get close.

06/02/2004 Stodelle (Avg: 2.89 Review) - Went there the other day. Visibility was so-so with it clearing up on the outer reef. Navigating is easy on freedive, but wouldn't want to do it on SCUBA. Life was abundant until swell picked up and vis dropped, then everything went into hiding. Daughter enjoyed it (6 yo) and wife who is a novice. Once swelled picked up, the outgoing current was a bit of a fight, but all in all worth it.

05/13/2004 Bryan Heit (Avg: 3.38 Review) - Did a sunset dive here. Easy entry, you just walk in off of the beach. Decent life, although there was a lot of silt covering the reef. This site continues out a long way into the channel with little change in depth (average is 15-20 feet deep). Be careful if diving as it is easy to swim a long ways from shore at this site without realizing it. There are shark warning signs on the beach, so some caution may be in order.

03/20/2004 Terry at St. Paul (Avg: 1.85 Review) - Over rated snorkeling site, too many people, dirt beach, difficult getting back on the highway, and just not that good a place for snorkeling until you get about 100 yards out.

01/05/2004 Marie (Avg: 2.57 Review) - Well, I wanted to enter another comment because I have found conditions to be poor lately. Visibility was very poor and the sea floor was full of trash. Disappointing.

09/19/2003 Marie (Avg: 3.83 Review) - We have snorkeled here for years. I am disabled and find very easy access here. Visibility is hit and miss but is always better in the morning. We have seen a wonderful variety of sea life. I love this spot.

07/22/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Whoever said Olowalu isn't a dangerous place is mistaken. This is a known tiger shark breeding ground. You might want to change your wording about the place, because you are way wrong about the dangers here.

03/04/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.70 Review) - Very good snorkel site.

12/11/2002 Chris Walker (Avg: 3.40 Review) - This site is a great spot for divers and snorkelers of all abilities. It is a rather shallow dive with a max depth of 40 feet but the hills and valleys of coral are impressive. You can also see turtles and reef fish. Due to the hills and valleys, good buoyancy control will make the dive more enjoyable.

05/24/2001 Al Mialkovsky (Avg: 2.77 Review) - Visibility isn't that great right now due to the large amount of plankton in the waters here, but outside you are likely to see large Manta Rays feeding there, I counted 12 in one large group. The rays can more likely be seen a few miles south of here. With any surge snorkeling visibility is very limited so get there early. Great spot for young ones or nervous ones to start snorkeling.

05/19/2001 Mike Roberts (Avg: 3.63 Review) - Great beginner dive or snorkel! Don't let the "beginner" scare you off if you are more advanced though. Just because it's easy to get in and shallow for a long way out doesn't mean there isn't a lot to see. When you first get to mile post 14 you may be turned off by the bizillion tourists on shore slopping on sunscreen and playing on floaties. Ignore them and dive in. You want to look from shore for a sand channel to follow out into the deeper water. Parking is only a few yards from your entry. Save air and snorkel out a ways before the water clears up and get any depth. You will still not likely break 40-50'. Winter is best - there are fewer South swells. Water can be very clear here but if you see waves breaking at all, the viz will suck. There's lot's of turtles and reef fish. Occasional octopus and white tipped reef shark. There have been tigers seen in the area (way out) and even a couple of attacks on swimmers. I wouldn't call it a dangerous place however.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: MA0601


Parking at Olowalu 

Parking is right along the side of the road.

Left Entry

 Map     Sat
GPS: MA0602


Left Entry at Olowalu 

As you can see, this is quite an expansive beach.

Right Entry

 Map     Sat
GPS: MA0603


Right Entry at Olowalu 

Pick an entry point, and dive in!




Aerial at Olowalu 
(click photo for details)

The lava coral channels make for interesting exploration.

Last Verification: September, 2000  


Diver Averages for  Olowalu  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.05
Bottom Conditions:  3.23
Reef Conditions:  3.23
Animal Life:  3.27
Plant Life:  2.64
Facilities:  1.73
Solitude 2.86
Roads:  3.73
*Site Average:  3.14

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.95
Beginner Scuba:  3.41
Intermediate Scuba:  2.95
Advanced Scuba:  2.50
Night diving Scuba:  2.64

Number of reviews for this site: 22


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