Snorkeling Makaha Beach Park is from a large wide beach right next to the road on the west side of the island. When it is calm, this large open bay offers some decent if deep snorkeling with some live coral and turtles. We consider it to be an advanced snorkeling spot because of the potential for waves, a steep beach, currents, and a fairly long swim to the good stuff.
This is a very popular surfing beach making this not a good place to snorkel when the waves are up. For this reason, snorkeling Makaha Beach will be more accessible in the summertime, when the water is calm. In the surfing season, Makaha can get very crowded. On the weekdays in the calmer summer snorkeling season, you may have the beach to yourself. But expect it to be busy on the summer weekends.
Be sure not to leave any valuables in your car or on the beach.
Both ends of this beach have rocks and reef that come right up to the beach, but in the middle it is sandy for quite a distance out. Look out in the water a good ways from shore for the closest buoy. This is your intended destination. It is easiest and the shortest swim to enter in the sandy zone in front of the buoy in bare feet. The beach is often steep, so you should be in deep enough water right away to slip on your fins.
The primary reason for snorkeling Makaha Beach is the opportunity to see turtles. This bay has coral and rock shelves on the north and south sides, with a deeper sandy bottom channel right in the middle. The currents flow over the reefs inward to the center of the beach, and then the water moves back out this channel.
You want to swim out to the buoy, following the edge of the reef out the channel. It is a decent little swim. Be sure to leave enough energy for the swim back to the beach because it will likely be against the current. Once you are out to the buoy explore the different coral in the area, and out a bit further. This is also the area where the turtles like to hang out. We have not seen many fish here. This snorkeling spot is on the deep side, 15 to 35 feet or more. The visibility varies depending on the waves, but it usually gets much better the further away from shore you get.
Here is a list of what we saw snorkeling Makaha Beach.
In our Hawaii Snorkeling Guide eBook you get guides to the other main islands and all this Oahu information, plus more pictures, maps and rankings.
1. Get on Kalakaua Avenue (the one way beachfront main drag). You are heading southeast.
2. Turn left on Kapahulu Avenue and keep on it and you will go under H-1.
3. Veer to the left on Waialae Avenue and shortly on the right you will see an on ramp for H-1 West. Take it.
4. You will follow H-1 as far as it goes to the west. On it, you may take the shortcut on H-201 if you desire. You will pass through Pearl City and Waipahu and Kapolei just before the highway changes to Hwy 93 (Farrington Hwy).
5. Follow Hwy 93 through the towns of Waianae and Makaha and just past Kili Drive on your right, the beach park is on the left.
The restroom, showers, water and a large parking lot are across the road from the north end of the beach. At the beach there are picnic tables, a limited amount of shade and a lifeguard station.