Last week, my husband and I returned from our annual vacation. When it comes to planning, we alternate years of who gets to create the destination and itinerary. This year was Mr. Husband’s turn and (as always) he picked Hawaii. We hadn’t tried the island of Maui yet (we’ve sort of been working our way through the islands over his past years’ choices), so we decided to head there. An added bonus of this choice: There’s direct flights to Maui from Portland!

One of the first places we “discovered” in Maui was Kapalua Bay, a little inlet on the west side of the island. I’m a complete wimp when it comes to swimming in the ocean or any body of water that isn’t a swimming pool, and Kapalua Bay was supposed to have a reputation for being very gentle – easy entry, no evil shore break, good snorkeling, and no sneaky currents that will whisk me out to sea.

Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii
Kapalua Bay in Maui, my swimmin’ hole
Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii
Our “parking” spot in the shade.

Still, I’d been burned before by believing guide books reported on Hawaiian beaches that were supposed to be “gentle.” Apparently my standards for what qualifies as easy swimming and snorkeling are pretty high. But Kapalua Bay completely lives up to its lamb-like reputation and much of our waking vacation hours were spent lounging on its shores and swimming in its waters.

Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, moorish idol
So many fish!

Besides being a terrific place to swim, Kapalua has possibly some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever seen in Hawaii. I’m not too picky with my snorkeling, as long as I see pretty fish and don’t die, I’m happy, so at Kapalua I was ecstatic because every time I got in the water I saw a different kind of fish or coral (and I didn’t once feel like I might die!).

One fish
One fish
Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii
Two fish
Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii
and more fish!
Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, spotted eagle ray
Spotted eagle ray…my what a big tail you have!
Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, reef shark
And even a reef shark for good measure.


But the best part of Kapalua: it’s very popular with green sea turtles. Seriously, they are everywhere, and, in the water at least, they have gotten used to humans. This means you can swim quite close to them without upsetting them and they will feed and come up for air only inches from you. When you’re bobbing around in only three-foot deep water and a huge sea turtle swims right under you, THAT’S a great experience.

Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, green sea turtle
Part of the Flying Turtle brigade
Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, green sea turtle
Snack time

The downside of Kapalua Bay

Unfortunately, unlike Kauai where officials and volunteers make great efforts to keep people from harassing wildlife, Maui doesn’t seem to have the same mindset. Swimming is hard work and turtles often come ashore to rest. While they can zip around with ease in the water, they’re cumbersome on land and are not as comfortable with people nearby.

So, here the turtle is trying to get a bit of rest in the sun, people run up to it, standing over it, snapping pictures only inches from its face, and basically harassing an animal they could have observed for much longer if they’d only kept their distance. But with humans come charging at it with their iPhones, the poor thing is forced to lumber back into the water where it feels safe.

Have no doubt, this is inability to rest is hard on them and adds stress to their lives and could eventually drive the turtles away from the bay altogether. So don’t be a jackass, keep your distance and use the zoom feature that I know even the cheapest camera/smartphone has.

Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, green sea turtle
Use your ZOOM!! This was taken from at least 10 feet away, providing a great pic while still allowing the beastie to rest quietly.

Don’t Forget…

Yesterday was the Grand Opening of my new online shop Tammie Painter’s Bookstore & Gallery. 

Not only can you now wander down my virtual aisles to shop for my books and artwork, but to thank everyone who reads this blog I’ve created coupon code OPENDAY10 so you can take 10% off your purchase* from now through 6 November 2015. So pop on over to Etsy and take a peek.

*Minimum purchase of $5 required. 


2 thoughts on “Travel Pic Thursday: Kapalua Bay (Maui, Hawaii)

  1. Nice pictures! Some of them look like they were in pretty deep water though. That is a beautiful bay/beach.


    1. That’s because you’re braver (crazier) than me and went to the deeper parts to take pictures while Chompy was deciding whether or not to have you for a snack.


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