Black Rock Beach: An Insider’s Guide

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Located just 4 miles north of Lahaina, Maui, lies the beautiful Black Rock Beach of Hawaii. It’s right next to the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa on the world-famous Ka’anapali Beach. It’s no surprise that this scenic West Side spot has been rated one of the top four beach dives not just in Hawaii, but the entire country. 

In the Hawaiian language, the name Black Rock Beach actually translates to Pu’u Keka’a. Formed in the aftermath of one of the last volcanic eruptions in West Maui, it holds significant meaning to Maui natives. Local ancient lore states that this is the place where spirits jump off to join the ancestors forever. 

What Can You Do at Black Rock Beach?

While scuba diving is one of the top activities, the location offers a lot more. It’s a great spot to go with the whole family because there’s plenty to do in addition to scuba diving. You can also cliff jump and paddle board there. Snorkeling Black Rock Beach waters is another interesting activity. 

This gorgeous location is a great place for swimming, too. It has a sandy beach with easy access to the ocean. So, you can swim and rest on the shore if you prefer not to go snorkeling. 

When to Go to Black Rock Beach?

Black rock beach
Black rock beach

Be aware that as a popular dive site, Black Rock can get pretty crowded. If you go during the quiet season in Maui (October and November), as opposed to the high season (July and August), you’re more likely to have a much more peaceful experience. 

What Can You See When Scuba Diving and Snorkeling at Black Rock?

Scuba diving at black rock beach
Scuba diving at black rock beach

The Black Rock shore dive site offers scuba divers a unique experience in West Maui. With a depth of 32 feet, it’s perfect for beginner and intermediate divers alike. 

Many Hawaiian green sea turtles call this reef and wall home. It’s also known for having one of the most diverse and abundant populations of colorful fish in Maui, including puffer fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish, hawk fish, cardinal fish, and goatfish. A wide range of cleaners, such as the rare candy cane shrimp, and many manta rays and sea urchins can be encountered along with the occasional endemic monk seal. 

If you choose to snorkel, you can see some coral, plenty of fish, occasional turtles, rays, and other marine life. 

On average, the visibility ranges from moderate to high due to the sand. Even in the deeper parts, you are likely to see some interesting things.  Most scuba divers spend an hour diving at this site. The best tip is to go slowly and appreciate everything! 

How to Scuba Dive at the Black Rock Site

Overall, the Black Rock site is a fun wall dive with a few caves to peek into. It’s generally best to swim out and around the eponymous rocky point from the Sheraton Hotel and then move around to the second point. 

Drop down at the second point and follow the coastline north, staying close to the cliffs. Be sure to check out all the caves; one even has a resident white-tip shark at the far north end!

Black rock site diving
Black rock site diving

The currents at Black Rock run from the north end to the south end, which makes it a great drift dive. You can circle here and drift around the entire point! However, it’s always recommended to check the tides ahead of time. 

For an experienced diver, it would be fairly simple to rent equipment and navigate it with a buddy. For newer scuba friends, a guide is recommended and necessary, especially if you are without proper certification.

Precautions When Scuba Diving

While you are diving close to the cliffs at Black Rock Beach, remember that sea urchins can hide on the rocks and in crevices. So, be careful not to touch them accidentally. 

While sea urchins in Hawaii are not venomous, it can still be painful if you get jabbed. If that happens to you, break off the spines as close to your skin as possible. Then, wash the affected area well and apply white vinegar. Remove any fragments with a sterilized needle and tweezers.

Getting to Black Rock Beach

Marine life in black rock beach
Marine life in black rock beach

There are a few ways to get to the Black Rock Beach location. If you travel from the south, such as from Lahaina, head north. Travel along Honoapiilani Highway and past the scenic Ka’anapali Beach until you see mile marker 24. There, turn left at Ka’anapali Parkway and follow the road around until you reach the tennis courts at the Sheraton Maui. 

If you travel from the north, such as from Kapalua or Napili, head south. Follow Honoapiilani Highway and turn right at the Ka’anapali Parkway.

The entrance to the dive site itself is easy to access. Take a walking path from the beach access parking lot of the Sheraton. There are a few walking paths you can choose from, and you’ll reach your destination in about 5 minutes. It’ll be on your left side. 

Keep in mind that getting your scuba gear from the parking lot to the coast can be difficult and often involves carrying it on a walk north some 600 feet. However, there are plenty of places to gear up once you make it down to the beach walk. 

Entry to Black Rock Beach is easy as the waves stay fairly small due to the cliffs. 

Night Diving at Black Rock

Night dive at black rock
Night dive at black rock

Black Rock also offers an incredible night dive! It has become famous among visitors and locals for all of the marine activity happening here after the sun sets. The eels are out and hunting, and a plethora of lobsters, crabs, turtles, and white-tip reef sharks can be spotted patrolling the reef as well. 

Though you will be armed with powerful flashlights, be prepared for the darkness of the sea, which does get deep quickly. 

Cliff Jumping at Black Rock Beach

Jumping off black rock cliff
Black rock beach: an insider’s guide 1

These rolling cliffs made of black rocks also happen to be a very popular and nice place to catch the sunset in Maui. Locals will blow the iconic conch and light a few torches as the sun begins to go down. 

This is a signal to all the brave souls, the cliff jumpers, to leap off of the rock into the clear waters down below in celebration! 

Not into cliff jumping? No worries! Even without a precarious plunge, it’s an idyllic vantage point for appreciating the beautiful beach, sunlit sand, and ocean view.

Price Point for Scuba Diving

Underwater professional diver
Underwater professional diver

To complete a beginner class and dive with an instructor here with no certification should cost $100-200. It’s certainly one of the more affordable scuba diving adventures in Maui and an easy day trip from anywhere on the island at that. 

Snorkeling Black Rock waters is a super popular pastime as well, and it can be done easily if the scuba diving conditions are not ideal on the day that you arrive.

Parking

At Black Rock, there’s very limited free parking. There are only a small number of spaces available next to the Sheraton. However, you can park in the actual Sheraton Hotel parking garage for a small fee as well. 

The Sheraton also offers showers if you need to rinse off, and many people choose to stay and have dinner there after a dive as well. 

Kaanapali Beach Access and Limited Parking offers free parking, too. However, it has limited spots. So, if you’d like to park for free, it’s best to come early in the morning to secure a spot.

If neither is available, you can check out the Whaler parking lot. Follow the road south, it’ll be on the same side.  

What to Do After Diving or Snorkeling at Black Rock

Wine bottle on boat
Wine bottle on boat

It’s good to note that there are quite a few restaurants and many shops nearby for you to explore. After diving or snorkeling in Black Rock waters, you will have certainly worked up an appetite.  

The Black Rock Sheraton has a small tiki bar, which makes for a perfect end to a day at this beach. Enjoying a cold drink here as the sun sets is highly recommended. There are many hotels and resorts, such as Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, the Westin Maui Resort, and Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, as well as Whaler’s Village Shopping Center close by if you prefer a little luxury or a swimming pool after diving or snorkeling. 

There are several parking options, such as the parking garage at Whaler’s Village, where you can leave your car while you enjoy your time at Ka’anapali Beach.  

What to Do Near Black Rock Beach

Snorkeling in black rock beach
Snorkeling in black rock beach

Near Black Rock Beach, you’ll find several other beaches, including the world-famous Ka’anapali Beach. 

On the north end of Ka’anapali, there are plenty of hotels, resorts, gorgeous stretches of shoreline, restaurants, and bars. You can try surfing here or enjoy a different snorkeling spot at the end of Ka’anapali Beach. 

Catamarans are known to come to Ka’anapali Beach to fuel up or drop visitors off along with other boat charters. It’s a great place to head out to sea in order to see more of the island.

How to Visit Black Rock Beach Safely and Sustainably

Catamaran
Catamaran

As a sacred site, it’s very important not to remove a single lava rock out of respect for the natural environment and the community. Be very careful not to touch any marine life as well; you can appreciate their beauty by just looking. And, of course, leave no trace, which means take your litter with you when you leave!

While the weather in Hawaii is usually mild, it can become unpredictable. So, always follow warning signs, as they are there for a reason. 

Explore Maui with WildVoice

Eager to explore the gorgeous beaches of Maui? WildVoice offers a range of tours that you can choose from. From scuba diving at gorgeous beaches and snorkeling in clear waters to whale watching, there’s a lot to choose from for any adventurous soul. Check out our Maui tours

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