The rugged and remote North Shore of Kaua‘i is home to incredible vistas, impossible landscapes, and jaw-dropping panoramas. In the middle of this colorful alien landscape, the crescent-shaped slice of heaven known as Tunnels Beach (or Makua Beach) is no exception; ringed with swaying palm trees and stoic ironwoods it is a beautiful Hawaiian paradise watched over by the mountains towering above. Pristine golden-white sands offer ample opportunity for sunbathers and beachcombers, and the streaks of coral heads add dazzling bursts of colors to the azure waters that lap at the shore. One of the best snorkeling destinations on island, this incredible beach is an all-around gem, and not to be missed during your stay on Kaua‘i.
What’s in a Name
Tunnels Beach in Kauai gets its name from the myriad lava tubes that adorn the sandy floor of the aquamarine bay. These, along with abundant coral heads and rocks encrusted with marine life, make for incredible underwater topography that is perfect for exploring and communing with the colorful marine life. This underwater playground is ideal for snorkeling and SCUBA (there is a slight but ever-present rip current, so be prepared if you go diving), while the steady waves and predictable breezes make it ideal for surfing and kite surfing up above. Winter swells may render the water too treacherous on some (or most) days, but in summertime this is as tranquil as Kaua‘i’s North Shore gets. Even if the water should be too rough during your visit, the backdrop of lush jungles, tropical trees, and breathtaking sunsets make it a must visit even if you never set fit in the water.
How to Get to Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach is located west of Hanalei, just before Ha`ena Beach Park, opposite Mile Marker 8. Parking on the highway is illegal, but two small turn-offs just down the road (0.4 and 0.6 miles, respectively) offer beach access and parking on the side of the dirt roads. Park with Aloha (don’t block the way, or any driveways) and heed the unofficial signs posted by the neighborhood; they will instruct you which roads to take, and where not to park. For best results, go early and enjoy the quieter mid-morning hours. A third option is to park on Alealea Street before mile marker 8, but you will be in for a longer walk to the beach (roughly half a mile).
If you are visiting Kauai during the summer months, make a snorkel excursion among the underwater canyons, enchanting lava tubes, and colorful coral heads one of our top priorities. Even if your visit during the winter months means the ocean conditions are too rough to snorkel (always use caution, and heed posted signs), this magical beach is well worth the trip.