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Makua Beach (Tunnels Beach)

Blue Dolphin Charters - Napali Raft Snorkel Tour
On this adventurous raft tour you will travel up the Na Pali coast where you will get to see dolphins, honu(turtles), and other marine life up close. You will adventure into sea caves and then snorkel while observing the fish and marine life in their natural habitat.
from $178.00

With a large lagoon and a massive hook-shaped reef providing protection from the surf, its no question that Makua Beach is Kauai’s snorkeling and diving paradise. The reef is so big here at Makua Beach, that it can actually be seen from space! Because of all the tunnels and arches in the reef, you will often times hear Makua Beach be referred to as “Tunnels Beach”, although you will hear surfers often say that its second name comes from the tubular or tunnel-shaped waves that you will frequently find on this beach.

With many crevices and cavities in the inner reef, snorkelers love to go exploring in those areas because you will often find lots of fish and other sea life. The outer reef areas are where the divers prefer to do their diving because of its tunnels and caverns. With all those tunnel shaped waves, surfers and body boarders love to come here to enjoy themselves on the water.

Because of the reef being able to provide enough protection from the sea, Makua Beach is usually calm enough for first time snorkelers to come and enjoy the sport. Makua Beach is probably the only beach on Kauai’s north shore that is calm enough for those novice snorkelers. The only exception to having these calm waters is during the winter months where the sea does become rough and more dangerous. Makua Beach, also known as Tunnels Beach, is great for swimming, except during the winter months when seas are rough. You can have fun swimming through all the tunnels and coral formations of the reef, it will almost seem like you are swimming through a maze. You will find that it rains quite a bit on Kauai’s north shore, but don’t let that ruin your fun. Just find shelter under an ironwood tree and wait for the rain to pass, storms here usually only last for a few minutes or so. Don’t be surprised if you see a seal sleeping on the beach, if you do see one, be sure to give it some space and please don’t bother them. Seals usually do not trust people and they usually are resting up before they take a long journey out to sea.

Tunnels Beach is a safe place to swim the majority of the time. It can be obvious when it’s not safe to swim, like in the wintertime when you may be able to see large waves crossing over the reef. But there are other times when the water between two of the main reef sections may appear to be calm, but in actuality, it is dangerous to swim in. Please watch out for high surf in the outer parts of the reef, and also for fast moving water in the channel between the reefs. All these are signs of strong currents that have the strength to carry you through the open channel in the reef and out into the open waters of the ocean. On days that the waters appear to be dangerous, just enjoy relaxing and playing right on the beach.

When one decides to snorkel here at Makua Beach, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you set out on your snorkeling adventure. This can also apply to you swimmers out there:

• Please do not enter the shallow areas of the water where there are rocks and where the reef comes up all the way to the beach’s edge. The wide sandy beach will offer you the easiest entrance into the water.

• Any beginner snorkelers or swimmers should stay close to the shore and follow the inner reef.

• Experienced snorkelers are the only ones who should swim to the outer part of the reef, and even then, water conditions will determine as to where it is safe or not to do so.

• There is always a slight rip current that flows westward, even when the water seems nice. Stay very aware of where you are at all times and be sure that you don’t find yourself drifting too far out because it can happen.

• The inner reef may not seem as interesting as the outer reef is, but you will find many caverns, channels, and tunnels to explore through which one can have a lot of fun doing so.

• With the outer reef bing much more interesting, you will find that in some places there will be a 50 – 70 foot drop-off with an abundance of sea life to see. You will sometimes see turtles, rockmover wrasses, pearl wrasses, cornet fish, parrot fish, and even reef sharks.

Makua Beach, or aka Tunnels Beach, is a fun and exciting place to spend the day. Be sure to arrive early in order to get a good parking spot. If there are no good spots left, you can go back to Alealea Street, before the 8-mile marker and find a spot there. If you park off of Alealea Street, you will have to park close to the sand and it’s about a half-mile walk to the Tunnels Beach. You can also park at the Haena Beach Park. Please keep in mind that there are no facilities at Makua (Tunnels) Beach. So be sure to be prepared with things before you go.

Directions to the beach are as follows:

• Drive west of Princeville on 560 and go 1.1 miles west of the Hanalei Colony Resort

• To park, drive past the 8-mile marker where you will see two dirt roads that you can park on. Parking is legal on all country roads. Look for the first one approximately 0.4 miles past the 8-mile marker and on the second road, look at about 0.6 miles past the 8-mile marker.

• Things to remember: parking can be difficult here, and do not park on the highway or you will get ticketed

Swimming, Snorkeling, Diving, Advanced Surfing, Windsurfing
Free, extremely limited
Public Restrooms:
Hanalei - Kauai

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