Makaha Beach Park (Caverns)
Makaha Beach Park offers shore access to a site regularly visited by dive boats: Makaha Caverns. Be prepared to kick out about 150 yards, but the sights are worth it! Facilities are located across the road.
Directions: On the Farrington Highway on the West Shore.
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05/09/2016 Scott Zaehler (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Went out on the last day of our Divemaster class. The lifeguard said conditions were too bad for a dive, but we went anyway. Surf was 5-6 feet over the reef (right side of the area), but calm in the middle. Fairly easy, but long swim to the site, descended at the edge of the reef and swam out to avoid the surf. Visibility wasn't great 15-25'. Not much to see until you get to the caverns. Used the broken statue as a waypoint - 270 degrees from the statue over the reef will take you right to some caverns. They were pretty spectacular - long swim throughs, interesting formations - one of my buddies says there are usually reef sharks hanging out in one of the caverns, but none seen today. Didn't see any turtles either, but overall, a very nice dive that I will bring other divers to.
04/03/2013 PeterAndBritt (Avg: 3.95 Review) - April 3, 2013 Took my wife on her very first post certification dive. Outstanding spot! We arrived around 8 am on a weekday and were the only divers there. As other posters have stated it is a bit of a swim out to the first buoy. The second and third buoys are still there but were underwater and were not visible from the surface. The third buoy was about 10 feet underwater. From the first buoy we headed toward the house on the point and eventually reached some overhangs, then the caverns. Recommend that you swim out with snorkel as to not waste bottom time. Total depth we hit was 42 feet. There were three large green turtles hanging out relaxing under the first buoy. Coral was decent but the animal life was very good. We saw 10 turtles, lots of fish, moray eels, flounder, shells, a fish eating a small puffer, etc.
11/25/2012 Larry Robcke (Avg: 3.99 Review) - Just dove this site today with my 14 year old son, entered from the public access point just past the apt buildings. There is a small beach there at low to mid tide and as long as the surf is down you will have no problems getting into the water there. Let me say this is one on the best shore dives on the island aside from sharks cove on the north shore. As we entered the water we saw two turtles right away within 30 seconds, we followed them out to the cleaning station and caverns...it is a long swim but well worth it! Be sure to explore the smaller arches and swim troughs on the way back if you have some air left, they are in the 20 foot range but very nice indeed. This place is loaded with sea life and tons of cracks and crevasses to explore and the caverns are truly amazing to see. My advice for all shore dives is get there early and have fun before the crowds get there. We arrive on most sites by 7am and are off to other adventures or our next dive by 9:30am....this makes the wife very happy indeed! The key to this dive is to swim out from the small public access area located on the road just past the apt complex. You must swim about 200 yards before you drop down and be sure to bring a dive flag. On this dive we saw 7 turtles many large schools of fish, octopi and lots of eels. Great dive for new to intermediate divers
08/31/2012 Brett at Honolulu (Avg: 4.64 Review) - This is my favorite dive site on the island. Facing the water, enter from the far right side of the beach, but left of the shallow reef near the apartment building. Look out from shore, and you'll see a line where reef meets sand. Snorkel out to that, and then drop down, and follow that line - it's a nice reef wall full of eels and octopi. At an outcropping after a slight trench in the wall, head up and over the reef wall to find the caverns. Visibility is AWESOME when the surf is flat. Only possibly downside is that it's a long swim out and/or back depending on where you descend/ascend.
08/22/2011 AJ 2011 (Avg: 3.87 Review) - Great dive location, a bit far of a swim as it is 250yds out. The inner reef looks dead and is a bit boring, but once you get out in apx 20ft of water it is great! Where the boats are it is awesome. Swim throughs, caverns, 40ft tunnel, turtle cleaning station on a large rock/coral area. Vis was ok not great, apx 30-40 ft. Tons of fish and vibrant coral. Deepest was 43ft on a 2 tank dive.
11/29/2010 Lucien (Avg: 3.83 Review) - Great Dive, unfortunately I didn't make it all the way out to the caverns. We got out there about 0830 on Thanksgiving and there was a bunch of folks surfing on the North side over the close reef. We surveyed the area and parked next to a lifeguard stand. Donned our stuff in the parking area and walked to the shore spotted the buoy and swam out to it (around 125-150m). Surf wasn't too bad. We descended and swam W/NW. Saw a turtle at the turtle cleaning station and some real nice structure. While working the structure we saw 2 other submerged buoys at about 50m intervals . When I dive this again I think I will swim to first buoy and continue on the surface past the second buoy and then descend to have more bottom time. I like to swim so it should be fun. Things to remember when diving here: Bring a dive flag: boats, jet skis etc. Gloves: there are lots of urchins. Flashlight-cool stuff to look at. Car-I have a jeep and leave nothing in it since unfortunately the west side of Oahu is a hi-crime area. If you are on the west side of the island and diving early in morning, the sun is behind the mountains so adjust time accordingly. Prob a good idea to check in with lifeguards. I didn't but should have. The facilities are across the street. They suck. So be prepared to change by your car. Showers are along beach to rinse after. Gordon, saw your review contact me if you want to have 2 buddy teams to leave people with car and others to dive on any of the weekend dives. Water temp 79F, Deepest 46 feet, 1 tank.
11/26/2010 Gordon (Avg: 3.38 Review) - 11/25/2010 - Nice dive spot, but be warned you'll think it really sucks if you stay close in shore as most of the reef is dead and covered with brown algae. Also, close in shore there is a back and forth surge, not dangerous just annoying that sweeps you to the left then sweeps you to the right, back and forth and trying to stay still to look at something is difficult. Now for the good part, once you get into deeper water (20 feet plus) the surge pretty much is eliminated and the reef isn't dead and there are a lot more critters. Saw Trigger fish, Trumpet fish, a variety of urchins, watch where you put your hands as there are lots of them especially inshore and you can grab a piece of rock to stop yourself and put you hand on one, (Ouch!!). I will go back here sometime soon as we just stumbled onto the interesting parts of the reef just as it was time to head back to shore. Easy shore entry, vis was 80+ at depth, less inshore. Talk to the life guard as he really knows his stuff. There were not very many people there, (of course it was a Thursday and Thanksgiving). Study the aerial map before you go, and pick out some areas on shore you can use as markers to help you scoot right out to the nice parts of the reef.
10/24/2010 Scuba Steve (Avg: 3.65 Review) - I was looking for a site where I could take my 10 yr old newly certified son for an easy yet interesting dive. The waves on the North Shore were a little angry so we opted for this site. It was a good choice. We arrived at the beach early afternoon and were greeted by the lifeguard. He explained to us the areas of the site we should avoid, namely the area where all the waves and surfers were. Because the edge of the reef forms a channel, the lifeguard suggested we enter inside the channel and swim out before we go down and then swim over to the reef. It was good advice because the entry was really easy for my son since there were virtually no waves breaking in that location. It is a really long kick to get to the caverns and really would likely be best visited by boat. We didn't make it out that far because it would have meant swimming out about 200yds and then swimming parallel with the beach for about another 100yds to avoid the surf and reach the caverns. The dive conditions were fair to good. The visibility was about 30-40' with a tiny current. The sea life was what made the trip. There were turtles everywhere munching on the reef. The reef itself seemed vibrant and there were many different kinds of coral and little critters everywhere. A fair amount of fish and my son was really happy to see a large Moray eel. We exited from the same location where we entered which was literally as simple as removing our fins and just walking out. Upon exit a lifeguard greeted us again to make sure the dive went well. The locals at the beach were all very friendly and eager to offer information about the location. Overall we had a great time and will definitely visit this site again. Maybe next time we will try to make it to the caverns.
08/15/2010 Smoot (Avg: 4.16 Review) - Decided on this site after reading other's reviews. I am a beginner diver and have only dived Electric Beach on Oahu before this one. Found the spot very easily with the help of my trusty Google Maps. There were lots of people there (it was a Saturday afternoon) but parking was easy to find. The walk out to the shore is not very far but depends on where you park. Our walk out was about 40-50 feet. We checked in with a lifeguard, who gave us a lot of good information. If you dive here, make sure to have a dive flag. According to the lifeguard, people do occasionally get busted for not having one. (If you don't have a flag, you can rent one from the fishing supply shop near the 7-11 a few miles before the beach park.) Enter near the middle of the stretch of beach because the water is the calmest there. Swim out to the buoy (it's small, so note its location before you head out). The buoy marks a depth drop-off. Head right, keeping the reef on your right side. If you continue that path, you should get to the Caverns, but we didn't make it that far. We did, however, make it to the turtle cleaning station, a mushroom shaped rock not too far away from the buoy. We saw a turtle there, as well as huge schools of fish and enormous heads of coral. The reef looked pristine, which is a rare sight in Oahu waters. The vis was terrible near shore because of the current, but the water cleared dramatically near the buoy. According to the lifeguard, the best time to go is when there is a low tide in the morning. If you are a weak swimmer (like me) be careful not to go too close to the right side of the beach where it comes to a 'point' because the current there pulls you out in a north-west direction. Clean up was super easy. There are showers and a hose across the street near the restrooms. Overall, I was stoked about the condition of the reef and all the critters there. The landscape underwater is quite beautiful. It was a pretty painless shore dive. Next time, I will remember to bring cash to buy some pastele stew and other goodies that were for sale on the side of the road to the dive spot.
04/19/2010 John Lohr (Avg: 3.52 Review) - Great Dive! Did not make it to the caverns but stopped at the turtle cleaning station. Must have been 10 turtles there. Easy entry to the water, calm surf and bright sunlight made for a great early morning dive. Great pictures of my son with the turtles in the back ground.
10/19/2008 Joel (Avg: 3.02 Review) - This is a great site for both beginning and intermediate divers. Advanced divers may find it boring unless they explore some of the caverns and swim up some of the old lava tubes. I have dove this site at least 20 times in the past year and never had any problems, other than a tiger shark scaring the crap out of me…but then again I should have done a little looking into the cavern before I decided to be between him and the only exit! There is a good turtle cleaning station on the reef to the left of the apartment building in about 12 - 15 ft of water. I actually like to dive this site because there aren't many people on the beach at all. In fact I was there over Memorial Day weekend with the family and there were 50 people max on the beach. Have never had any issues with the car or anything being stolen. Standard Hawaii anti-theft precautions apply as with any other dive site. Great site for a night dive as well, although there is not a lot of lights to orient yourself on the surface. Lots of great marine life at night, which includes some sharks, octopus, and turtles.
01/07/2008 Kory (Avg: 3.50 Review) - The dive is great, but the locals are not so great. Do not do this dive without numbers, and leave someone with a cell phone on the beach to watch your things, as well as to call the cops. The cops will do nothing for you. They will only ask you to leave and escort you out. It is a sad fact. I live here and was treated as if I were a tourist by the cops. There are better places to go without getting into a fight for parking in the parking lot with out permission of some punk.
11/13/2006 S Janssen (Avg: 3.54 Review) - Finally found one of the big caverns. Head a little to the right of the red buoy. The set your compass for about a 270 degree heading, shore swim for approx 300 ft or so then drop down. You should be right in front of the apt building then descend. You won't be disappointed, There is a very large cavern structure that you can easily fit 3 divers side by side going through, multi-level with lots of sea life, turtles, and big puffer fish. I would have to say this was one of the more fun dives I have been ranking up there with Shark's Cove. You could easily spend most of your dive exploring the cavern structure. Save your air for all the swim throughs. :)
10/10/2006 ScubaFella43 (Avg: 4.31 Review) - Finally did this one from shore. From the entry we went 180 degrees to a red buoy about 100 yards from shore. Once we got to the buoy we descended and headed along the edge of the reef shown in the picture, aka North Reef, in a generally western direction until the air hog (me) was at 1900 lbs. On return we head back the way we came but with a slight twist to the north, surfaced at 700 LBS about 35 meters from the beach. Max depth we got to was 33'. Very active with turtles, on one pinnacle cleaning station there were 5 turtles, bringing the total amount of turtles we saw on this dive to 10. Did not make it out to the actual swim throughs at the caverns but did see some very nice coral formations, some of the best on the island and tons of fish. Humu-humu-nuku-nuku Apua'a are everywhere, even saw them just off the beach while I was putting on my fins. Best to have a dive flag here since there are lots of boats and it is required by law anyway.
06/24/2006 Wild Bill (Avg: 3.31 Review) - Compared to other shore dives on Oahu, this was pretty good all-around. Parking was easy, getting to the beach was super easy, there is plenty of space for the family and your gear. The reef isn't the prettiest on the island but the turtle cleaning station was awesome!! We saw at least 8 turtles on the station from small young to huge older ones. They are super friendly and don't mind your group taking a thousand pictures. The life guards were very friendly and pointed us to the orange buoy; descend, then head just a little to the right to the turtles. But bring a dive flag or they won't let you dive because there are non-stop dive charters coming in and out of the area. We had a great time and the afternoon dives seem better than the early morning dives.
05/06/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 3.88 Review) - Dove this site a few times in April. Had a great time. Was amazed about how much sea life I saw. Seeing a couple reef sharks while going through the caverns and the Eagle Rays "stacked in formation" was definitely a highlight. Lots of curious fish, even got a head butt by one. :-) Viz was excellent at least 75+. Great dive for all levels.
04/17/2005 Jeff Moore (Avg: 3.52 Review) - I studied ShoreDiving.com before my first trip to Oahu. I don't dive, but really enjoy snorkeling. Makaha was my favorite site on the island. It was easy to get to, the beach was very good, and the access to the reef pretty easy. I really enjoyed the sea turtles. I expect diving would allow me to get farther away from shore and into more spectacular areas. I would recommend the area to snorkelers.
02/15/2005 Michael Shaffer (Avg: 3.73 Review) - Great dive for all levels. We went in September and the visibility was at about 50 ft. We swam out to the ball marker and descended there. There is wall of reef that goes all the way to the caverns that has lots of sea life. There is one specific rock that seems to attract about seven sea turtles every time we pass it. We dove from the ball marker to the caverns and surfaced. The swim back was kind of long but it was worth it. Next time we will go the caverns by boat. The facilities are ok, there is a bathroom across the road from the beach. Make sure to leave all valuables at home to prevent any theft from happening.
12/23/2004 Ryan Veale (Avg: 4.34 Review) - Great dive site. Plenty to look at, and lots of caves to explore. Had a great sea turtle come over the edge of a cave and almost land on me. He was very friendly though, as he hung around for a couple minutes about 3 feet away allowing me to take some great pictures. Would highly recommend this site! Best from the boat, but also worth the snorkel from shore.
10/31/2004 Brian McLean (Avg: 3.78 Review) - Went at the very end of October because we really wanted to dive and there was 4 feet of surf everywhere else on the island. The surf was 1-2 feet, but the entry was still easy, long relaxing swim and dropped down when we saw a group of 10 turtles....awesome. Many fish, some eels, nice rock....not as good as sharks cove, but my second favorite site on island. You can do it this late in the year, but you have to fight some current.
08/08/2004 Seth Bareiss (Avg: 3.38 Review) - Popular boat dive. Never tried it as a beach dive. When I've done it, I've been very pleased with it as a day or night dive. Plentiful room-sized caves, depths in the 45' range. Lots of corals. The turtles here are quite tame, especially "Tripod", who has 3 fins. They are so unaffected by the presence of divers that one of my students hit her head trying to surface... underneath a turtle. LOOK UP when GOING UP, silly ! ;^)
08/03/2004 I Dive Mike (Avg: 3.53 Review) - My new favorite site. A bit of a drive compared to Kahe beach but much more enjoyable. I keep meaning to bring a light for the caves to see better. Good depth makes free diving this location enjoyable. Lots of life, eels, taco, turtles, fish everywhere. Don't see many other free divers here. The caverns are great! The fish are friendly, probably fed, and will swarm under you if you just float on the surface. For the swim out if you go to the left of the waves you will see a small float, this marks the rip current that you can use to swim out with.
07/31/2004 Anonymous (Avg: 4.01 Review) - Great location, especially with the turtle cleaning station, massive turtles....if you can find the right spot to look. Great for snorkling/freediving too.
09/04/2003 Frank DeCarvalho (Avg: 4.08 Review) - I found out about Makaha's South Reef's location from a local Surf Kahuna who told the story of riding 30 plus waves in front of his friends house adjacent to Upena Loop. The surf break about 200 yards off the beach along the south part of Makaha Beach Park indicated there was a significant drop off, something that interested me as a diver. Obviously, this drop off was the cause of these monstrous waves breaking well off shore during the winter season. As indicated in the shorediving.com aerial photo of Makaha, you can see the exact location of the South Reef. It was a moonless night in September when my buddies and I first dived the South Reef in hopes of finding some big bugs. Most of the bugs along the more popular North Reef had been plucked years before. We geared up in the parking lot, headed down to the waters edge and made our plunge into the warm water. We surface swam out about 50 yards and by looking down with our lanterns, we soon noticed a sharp transition from sand to rock. We were in 25 feet of water when we descended and shortly after making our way seaward, my dive buddy flickered his light off to our right (away from the reef). I thought he was trying to get my attention to see a lobster on the sand bed, but the angle of his light shooting upward indicated something totally different. At first I couldn't believe my eyes. It was the biggest Tiger Shark I've ever seen outside of television...and it was just feet away from our small group. It was about 12 feet long and its belly was as massive as three 55 gallon drums tied together. Its lazy movements and dark eyes affixed on us told us he was curious, possibly just investigating our strange presence. I really wondered how such a large shark could have effortlessly and silently sneaked up on us only yards from the beach...scary. It eventually moved on, slipping into the dark beyond the shadows of our lights. We held close to the reef and kept a keen eye out, but it never returned. After making our way to the seaward edge and catching a few good size bugs along the way, we turned around and headed back, always watching our sides and rear. Thank God we hadn't decided to spear any uhus that night. We would have had to abort the dive or, as they say in Hawaii, pay the grey suited tax man. After diving the South Reef for another four years, I never had the pleasure of seeing our friend again...maybe that's a good thing. What I like most about Makaha's South Reef are the number of caves along the reefs edge. Some are large enough to squeeze several divers comfortably in, and others hold some large examples of the beautiful Triton's Trumpet. A huge Yellow Margin Moray eel guards the entrance, so don't get any grand ideas about grabbing one for your shelf.
04/15/2003 Jwlast (Avg: 4.65 Review) - New diver, about 30 Oahu dives, mostly south shore winter boat dives but this spot is my new favorite! Beautiful rock formations, caves, caverns, drop offs, swim throughs, etc. More turtles than I've seen to date in one spot, plus a fantastic turtle cleaning station and whales singing off in the distance make this my new Oahu fav. Beach entry was easy, swim out about 200 yards is probably best accomplished by above average swimmers, well worth the effort if you've got the skills. Shower to wash gear is nice, "facilities" could stand to be cleaned more than once a month, but hey, I was there for the diving! Definitely an A+ Oahu site (even when the vis is poor).
08/18/2002 Taylor Boger (Avg: 4.45 Review) - SO beautiful. I went out yesterday morning and couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I dove many sites on Oahu, and I can say the caverns are amazing. Saw a shark, turtles, so much life. Enjoy it and take care of the reef.
07/17/2002 Michael Quinn (Avg: 4.92 Review) - Great dive. Definitely go in the summer months. This was the first time for me here. I got all the info from this web-page. Myself and 2 buds just surface swam out and bared to the right until it looked deep enough and descended. We found a buoy/submerged boat tie-off rope. It was about 20 feet below the surface, I ascended where it was and shot an azimuth there. The back-azimuth is 25 degrees north from the life guard shack. Saw a turtle that was as big as a Volkswagen...almost. Lot of shells, if ya know where to look.
07/26/2001 Luke VanValkenburg (Avg: 3.06 Review) - This site, is best done by boat. However, it can be done by shore. Just be prepared for a long surface swim. I enjoy it time and again. best done during summer months.
06/29/2001 Mark Roberts (Avg: 4.39 Review) - Park by the hotel and walk through the grassy park to the beach. This will shorten your walk through the sand. Be prepared for a long swim out. If you swim out on your back you can enjoy the mountains in the background as you take your time to reach the dive area out by the point. Sea life was abundant here, with parrot fish, eels and what looked like sea snakes but I'm not sure about that. I'll have to pick up a book on that one. The water here was very clear with a wonderful aqua blue tint. Nice lava formations down below also. Even though the swim out was long, we headed back toward shore about 1/2 way through the dive and with the current helping we were washing up on the shore like a couple of beached whales at about 300psi...to the surprise of some of the beach go'ers I might add..hee..hee. Great dive with easy access and showers in the park to rinse your gear.
05/12/2001 Scubadude (Avg: 4.16 Review) - One of my favorite sites, but usually by boat. The sand is very soft, and it's a long way to the water, then a long swim to the reef. Once there, it's an outstanding dive. Seldom any current, but usually at least minor surge at all times. Best diving is in the summer/fall. I have over 50 dives at this site.
(click photo for a larger version)
Parking is just off the main road. Park close to the lifeguard stand.
Your entry is straight off the sandy beach. Notice the dive boats currently over the Caverns.
(click photo for details)
Head toward the bottom of the V shaped lava flow, drop down, and you won't be disappointed!
Last Verification: September, 2000