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Tunnels (Makua) Beach

Tunnels (Makua) Beach
Swimming, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Sunbathing, Surfing
Tunnels (Makua) Beach
No Restrooms, No Lifeguard

Tunnels (Makua) Beach - Kauai

The post-card scenery of Tunnels Beach offers a wide crescent shaped golden sand beach, shady ironwood trees and views of the Bali Hai and lush jungle mountains. This beach boasts a grove of ironwood trees providing comfortable shade for your visit, golden, soft sand and spectacular views at the edge of the Na Pali coast. Also, while a popular spot with both tourists and locals, the beach is not overly crowded and you can always find a spot distanced from other beach goers. The sunsets are also spectacular. 

The center portion of beach has a huge is a half moon shape with a large reef about 1/8 mile off shore. This reef provides for excellent snorkeling and diving and creates a barrier from the rough surf conditions and strong currents characteristic of the North Shore. The shallow, sandy bottom in front of the reef remains calm even in the rough winter months and the waves breaking beyond the reef makes for an an excellent surfing spot.

Tunnels is renowned as not only one of the best dive spots in Hawaii, but also as one of the premier dive sites in the world. Composed of an inner and outer reef with a wide channel in between, Tunnels is a maze of coral formations, lave tubes, tunnels and arches and is home to thousands of different species of marine life. Divers tend to favor the outer reef, which offers more lava tubes and arches.

If you aren’t scuba certified, you can still check out some of the amazing coral and marine life at this beach. While you may not get to explore some of the underwater tunnels without a tank on, you’ll still be able to take in the underwater beauty of this reef.

Enter the water at the sandy spot on the northern part of the reef. The wide sand beach offers the easiest entrance into the water. Don’t attempt to enter the shallow areas where there are rocks and reef that come all the way up to the beach edge. Large and small Lava tubes form the many underwater caverns give Tunnels it's name as well as a magical underwater world to explore. 

Inner Reef
If you’re a beginner at snorkeling, then you should stay close to shore and follow the inner reef.  The inner reef may not be as fun as the outer reef, but it does have lots of caverns, channels and tunnels. 

Outer Reef
Only experienced snorkelers should swim to the outer reef and even that depends on the water conditions. The outer reef is by far the most interesting. In some places it has a steep drop-off of about 50-70 feet with an abundance of sea life.  Past the outer reef the surf kicks up, making Tunnels popular with both surfers and kite boarders. 

Facilities: Nearby Haena State Park has restrooms and showers is within walking distance

Tunnels (Makua) Beach Video

Map & Directions

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Take Highway 560 west of Princeville past Hanalei (1.1 miles) toward Ha’ena. Two short dirt roads, just past Mile Marker #8, lead to the parking area for the beach.

There is virtually no parking besides a couple of turn-offs in between the beach houses. However, it’s usually better to drive up to the Haena Beach parking area and walk the quarter mile down the shore to Tunnels.

Be sure not to park on the highway or you’ll be ticketed. If you arrive early enough some parking may be available just past the 8 mile marker. You will see two dirt roads. Parking is legal on all country roads. Look for the first road at about 0.4 miles past the 8 mile marker and the second road at nearly 0.6 miles past the marker.

Alealea Street is before the 8 mile marker and also may have a spot.

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Tunnels (Makua) Beach Safety

Please check with appropriate resources and authorities regarding beach conditions, tides, etc. This website is produced in the interest of public safety and injury prevention and cannot guarantee or warrant your safety at any of the locations described herein. That is your responsibility. This website and any sponsors or affiliates accept no responsibility, express or implied, for the use or misuse of this website and the information contained herein. Any statements or assessments of conditions are based solely on opinion and should NOT be considered expert advice.
Most of the time this beach is pretty safe to swim in.  Here are a few things to be wary of:
  • Tunnels Beach always has a slight rip current flowing west, even when the weather’s nice. Stay aware of where you at all times too make sure you don’t drift too far out. 
  • In the wintertime large waves crossing the reef can be very dangerous. 
  • The water between the two main reef sections may look peaceful but is sometimes far too dangerous to swim in.
  • Be aware when the surf is high on the outer part of the reef this usually means there is fast flowing water in the channel between the reefs. 
  • These strong currents that could carry you right through the open channel in the reef and out into the open ocean.