Makua Beach is one of the most spectacular beaches on Oahu with amazing snorkeling, turtles, dolphins, and often big waves! It’s one of the best sunset beaches on the island and one of the most relaxing spots to get away from civilization.
On the far west side of Oahu, Makua Beach lies at the foot of majestic mountains, hiding behind a wall of trees. Crystal clear waters wash upon a long stretch of beach with a backdrop of Makua Valley and cliffs that seem to encapsulate the secluded beach.
The beauty of Makua Beach extends beyond its postcard features with overnight camping a common activity on its sands. The rules are commonly changing because campers often leave trash or disrespect the region. When local authorities get tired of these disrespectful visitors they simply keep the gates locked.
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If Makua Beach is open for camping respect the region and keep in mind if you don’t do the right thing others after you will never be able to enjoy the same privileges. Pack everything out and act responsibly.
Makua Beach camping can be great fun with lots of little camp spots nestled amongst the bushes. On a weekend there are often lots of small fires and groups hanging out and enjoying the atmosphere and the stars. The sunset and sunrise are both epic at Makua but the sunset, in particular, is outstanding as the coastline faces west where the sunsets.
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
IN THE WATER AT MAKUA BEACH -DOLPHINS, TURTLES, WAVES
The water clarity at Makua Beach is phenomenal. There have been instances where I could see 40-50ft deep all the way down to the seafloor to spot a small shell. Granted that is way too far for me to dive and collect it but you can imagine with this sort of clarity it feels as if you are swimming in transparent water.
It’s quite common to swim with dolphins at Makua Beach but they often are out quite deep and unless you are a good swimmer you may just hear them while you are underwater. It is also only allowed for them to approach you so it is prohibited to swim after or chase them.
In addition to dolphins, Humpback Whales often cruise off the coast, from November to April.
This is also a great beach to spot some Hawaiian Sea Turtles at Makua Beach. I also wrote a guide about all the best places for swimming with Sea Turtles on Oahu.
The four tide pools are perfect for relaxing in a natural bath and a small beach cave that fills up with water, lifting people up and down with the flow of waves.
Makua Beach often has strong swells great for bodyboarding and playing in the waves. Be sure to check the conditions before you go for a swim as it can be quite a dangerous beach on a rough day.
SUNSET AT MAKUA BEACH
I’ve always loved Makua Beach for sunset. Sure, it’s a long drive back to town in the dark but you are almost guaranteed to enjoy a quiet, peaceful sunset. It feels like you are on the edge of the world only a few others around. With plenty of space along this long 1-mile stretch of sand, the few visitors who are there are spread out enough that you can enjoy your spot all to yourself… unlike the chaos of Waikiki.
The sun sets directly out in front of you and gives the limestone cliffs of Makua Valley an orange glow. It’s a truly magical place and great to take a picnic lunch and a drink or two for a sundowner. Make sure to pack out any of the food/drinks items you may bring!
MAKUA BEACH FACILITIES
This is quite a remote beach. There are no toilets, food trucks, or buildings. There are trash cans and spots to park on the side of the road. That’s one of the reasons this beach is so special. It still feels wild and free. Make sure to bring enough food, water, and gear for your time at the beach from towns you pass on the way in.
MAKUA VALLEY CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE
It’s important to respect every site on Oahu in Hawaii but even more so at Makua Beach and Makua Valley. This region holds important cultural significance for the Hawaiian Community. It’s more than just a beautiful beach so keep that in mind with how you behave, how you clean up and the level of respect you show to others and the community.
There is a strong cultural significance of Makua Valley for the Hawaiian community, as they believe it is where man was first created. Makua Valley runs from the beach to the mountains and is believed to be where spirits enter the afterworld.
Makua means “parent” in Hawaiian and was aptly named due to the beliefs surrounding the area.
Malama-Aina (take care of the land), please remember to take your trash and leave this beautiful location in a better state than when you arrived.
WHERE IS MAKUA BEACH
Makua Beach is on the very west side of Oahu and takes about 1.5 hours to reach when driving from Honolulu. I’ve pinned the location on the map below. It’s pretty much the second last beach before the road runs out with Yokohama Beach being the very last beach.
WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
- What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU
What are my favorite pieces of gear for the beach?
There are three pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a beach adventure. These are three items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my beach essentials.
- PackTowl Quick-Dry Towel: A quick-dry towel is a must for travelers. It hardly takes up any room and dries in seconds.
- Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack: The beach can be a great place to ruin your precious gear so having this ultralight dry sack for cameras, phones and valuables mean you have a safe place to store everything.
- GoPro Hero 10: The best and easiest way to capture your underwater and snorkeling adventures.
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