Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
This spot has been added by
Last updated on July 19, 2023
Makua Beach, also known as Tunnels Beach, is located on the north coast of Kauai and is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. Even though the largest snorkeling area is now closed, the reef fringing the beach still allows you to encounter vibrant sea life. Here you will find a whole medley of fish, green turtles and, if you’re lucky, Hawaiian monk seals, which pay regular visits to the site.
Makua Beach is about 1 mile (1.6km) before the end of the road at Haena State Park, along the northern coast of Kauai. To get there from Lihu’e first take route 56, then route 560 (Kuhio Highway) north. It takes a little over one hour to drive the 40-mile distance.
Finding the main beach access can be tricky (see on Google Maps). It can also be tricky to find a parking space nearby, because of the numerous no-parking areas near the path to the beach. The beach is just a 100 yard walk from the main road.
Once you’ve reached the beach along the access path, walk towards the right for a few dozen yards to reach the recommended water entrance spots (see map above).
The best area to explore includes the reef that runs parallel to the western part of the beach. It is on your left when you enter the water. The shallow lagoon around Haena Point is now closed to all water activities, including snorkeling. Use the aerial view above to locate the various places to explore and also the ones to steer clear of, since there are strong currents or closed areas.
On the reef running along the beach, you will cross sand and coral areas (↕3-7ft/1-2m), until you reach a reef drop-off where the depth increases sharply (↕7-20ft/2-6m).
In the shallower areas, even though the seabed is quite poor (hardly any coral), you will still be able to see many of the archipelago’s most typical fish, such as the reef triggerfish, parrotfish, or shoals of tang busy grazing on the rocks. On the reef drop-off, shoals of jacks swim along the reef, while arc-eye hawkfish take up their positions on small coral and lie in wait for their prey.
This is the area in which you are most likely to encounter Hawaiian monk seals. The seals are native to the islands and regularly visit the area. In between dives, the seals rest on the beach. Please respect the instructions for observing marine life both in and out of the water. Keep a distance between yourself and the wildlife, and don’t try to interact with them.
This spot is impracticable to visit in the winter when impressive waves roll down the famous North Shore.
There aren’t any restaurants or accommodations close to the beach, which is in a residential area. Stock up on water and food in Hanalei, which you will pass through about 3 miles/5km before arriving at the beach.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Shallow lagoon with many reef fish
Free shore access
Shallow crescent-shaped bays with colorful fish and sea turtles
Free shore access
Deep offshore area visited by several shark species
Sheltered rocky bay with many fish
Shallow sandy lagoon with reef fish and sea turtles
Pipeline and fringing reef with fish and sea turtles