Popularly know as Tunnels Beach, Makua Beach has a large lagoon perfect for swimming because it is protected by two reefs, the outer reef favored by surfers for the great waves, and the inner reef filled with cavities and crevices for snorkelers to explore for fish and sea life. Divers love the outer reef for its tunnels, caverns, and sudden dramatic drop off. Tunnels is about the only beach on the north shore that is usually calm enough for those trying to snorkel for the first time although even here you may find rough surf and treacherous currents during winter.
Listen to the surf reports, and plan any winter visits for times when surf is manageable, and preferably at low tide. In calm conditions, bring the kids and let them paddle about on boogie boards while the older ones try their luck with mask and snorkel. Bring fish food, or even a green leaf, in a plastic baggy and swish it in the water and you’ll be surrounded by fish (just be sure to bring the bag out of the water with you, dangerous for turtles and fish to get caught up in). Swimming and Snorkeling through the coral formations of the reef, which is almost like a maze of tunnels, can be great fun when the water is quiet. Enter the reef through one of the small sandy channels or the large one on the right, and dozens of fish in rainbow colors will swim right up to your mask. If the showers which frequent the north shore rain on your parade, you can take shelter under the ironwood trees –or under your boogie board! If you see a monk seal lying on the beach, give it it’s space, it is probably exhausted and looking for some peace and relaxation. Seals do not trust humans and need their privacy.
Warning: Even when the area between the two reefs may look calm for swimming and snorkeling, watch out for these danger signs: high surf on the outer reef or fast moving ripples in the channel between the two reefs. These indicate powerful, swift currents that could sweep you out through the channel into open ocean. Instead of swimming, hunt for shells on the beach, or walk around the rocks to the east.
Directions: From Lihue continue west on Highway 56 (Kuhio Hwy), and go 1.1. miles past the Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena. You will pass mile marker 8 and the turn-off road to the YMCA camp. Parking is nearly impossible, very small area. Cars parked along the main road will be ticketed. You can drive past Tunnels to the Haena Beach Park, park your car and walk the beach back to Tunnels (15 minute beach walk).
Tunnels Beach on the north shore is an amazing place to not only take advantage of the incredible beach but also the gorgeous vacation homes in the area. With parking such an issue, the ultimate is having a beach house that you can walk from! Please do explore our large selection of beautiful homes and cottages is this area.
For Snorkel and Dive Tours at the Tunnels Beach, please contact our Kauai Activity Specialist who can assist with snorkel gear, dive gear and guided water adventures!