Underwater Photography at Black Rock in Ka’anapali Maui, Hawaii

Black Rock is a lava outflow from the island of Maui on the north west side of Maui, Hawaii.  In splits up the Ka’anapali beach on the south and Kahekili Beach on the north.  In google maps search for “Black Rock Beach”.

Getting There and Parking

To get there travel north from Lahaina to Ka’anapali on Highway 30.  Turn left onto the Ka’anapli highway which will lead you through the Ka’anapali golf course.  Continue down the road passing the very nice hotels such as the Marriot’s Maui Ocean Club, The Westin’s Resort and Spa, and several others.

Along each of these hotels is a small parking lot for public beach access.  Your first bet for parking would be to use one of these.  Try to get there early as they will fill up fast.  Your next bet for parking is at the Whalers village which charges for use (at time of writing it was about $3 for 30mins).  There are a lot of shops such as Subway, Quiksilver, Crazy Shirts, Haagen-Dazs, etc and the village parking offers up to 6 hours free parking with validation from vendors.  For more on Whaler’s village visit this page: www.whalersvillage.com

What Time of Day

Black Rock is open ocean.  Your entrance and exit is against the waves.  Depending on the tides you will most likely have better luck in the morning before the afternoon winds pick up.  In the morning you will also have better luck of being out while the turtles are finding their breakfast.

During several of our recent visits we have the best luck between 8am and 11am.  Closer to 8am meant less hotel guests.  Closer to 11am meant a warmer experience and more light in the water.

Where to Snorkel

From the Ka’anapali beach side, Black Rock forms a half circle like structure spurting directly out from the north end of the beach.  You may notice that most of the hotel guests stay right along this side and don’t go out to far.  Swim right past these hotel guests.  You want to round the corner and snorkel on the edge of lava rock that faces open water.  This section is a little deeper and has a lot more fish.

Snorkeling at Black Rock Beach

This shot above was taken after rounding the corner and facing open water.  In this section the coral is much more vibrant and there are a lot more fish.  However make sure to stay a decent distance away from the rock edges because there is an open current and you don’t want to get slammed against a rock.

As you swim from the south to north side you will most likely notice several turtles.  They may occasionally come in to shallower waters, but most of their feeding is done from the deeper water facing the open ocean.

Green Sea Turtle at Black Rock Beach

This shot above is of a green sea turtle just off Black Rock Beach.  It is on the backside of the snorkeling area.  To capture this shot I swam down about 10 feet to be inline with the turtle.

As you continue farther north the cliff edge becomes more prominent underwater and you will see more and more fish feeding up against the edge.

Underwater Cliff Edge at Black Rock Beach

This shot above demonstrates the cliff edge at Black Rock as you swim against the back edge that runs parallel to open water.  Don’t drop your camera along the edge.

If you desire you can go all the way to Kahekili Beach.

Stay Safe

The reason why most of the hotel guests stay along the south side that runs perpendicular to the side, is simply due to skill level and familiarity.  It looks daunting to round the southern corner.  Each time that we have been there we see several guests making the venture out to farther water, although we don’t advise it for kids or those that would be skeptical against the ocean currents.  Always stay within your limits, but if you are able to venture out to turtles you will get to see some great experiences.

Posted in and tagged , , .

Leave a Reply