Tunnels Beach


If you've ever had an opportunity to see the North Shore of Kauai from the air on a helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft you will have had little trouble recognizing a huge reef that protrudes outward from the coastline on the eastern side of the NaPali Coast. This giant reef extends way out to sea and its semi-circle shape provides protection for an obviously beautiful beach at the shore line. This is Tunnels Beach.

Tunnels Beach - Note the Beach at Top of Photo with Large Circular Reef

Tunnels Beach - Note the Beach at Top of Photo with Large Circular Reef

Because the reef here provides more protection from the waves than perhaps any other beach on Kauai's North Shore, and because this reef extends almost all the way into shore, Tunnels Beach may be the premier snorkeling beach on the northern coast of the island. The reef is divided into two parts, the inner reef and the outer reef. The outer reef is where you will see waves continuously breaking. This is where the big wave surf is found that is so popular with the experienced local surfers. The inner reef is the "sweet spot" for snorkelers because the waters will generally flatten out in this area and usually provide a more calm and peaceful spot to view the reef with all of its rich sea life. The above characterization of Tunnels Beach is obviously a generalization and every day can be, and is, different. This is Kauai's North Shore, and it is always very dangerous. It's true that the reef offers protection from much of the wave action but the currents that pass through the reef all the way into the beach can be nothing short of the force produced by a fast flowing river. Even on days when it looks calm to the eye there could be dangerous currents lingering so it is important for you to speak directly to the lifeguards who are on duty at this beach to ask whether it is safe to enter the water here on the day you are visiting and to ask which portion of the beach would be the most safe area for you to navigate. For a fact, unless you are an extremely accomplished snorkeler you should always stay away from the outer reef where the waves are breaking but even the inside reef can require care to negotiate.

Tunnels Beach has "Tunnels" in the Reef

Tunnels Beach has "Tunnels" in the Reef

The reefs that you will find at Tunnels will be a delight to behold. Although it has been lost in the sense of an urban legend it is surmised that the name "Tunnels" is derived from maze-like twisted corridor of coral reefs that seem to wander their way endlessly along this fabulous coastline. Bring a fish identification card if you want to be sure of what you are seeing because there is lots of reef life to observe.

Showers at Tunnels Beach

Showers at Tunnels Beach

As far as amenities are concerned Tunnels Beach has restrooms and showers, picnic tables and a small parking area.

Ocean Caution

Be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be dangerous including this one. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering any Hawaiian waters. Be certain that a lifeguard is on duty at this location and be certain to ask him where the best place for you to swim at this beach will be on the day you are there based upon the current ocean and wind conditions. Also, all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water.

Use caution at Tunnels Beach




Kauai Beaches

Anahola Beach is a great choice for a beach on Kauai. Not only is Anahola picturesque with scenic vistas and a great expanse of beautiful white sand but its protective outer reef of Anahola Bay makes it a less dangerous area in which to enjoy the water than many other beach locations.

more

Anini Beach is a narrow sliver of a beach that extends along Kauai's North Shore for somewhat over two miles. Anini Beach is an oddity on the North Shore because it is largely protected by a huge fringe reef that is one of the largest in the state.

more

The Kauai beach with the unusual name, Donkey Beach, is a beach that comes with a lot of pluses and minuses. On the plus side, it is gorgeous in all its rugged beauty.

more

Glass Beach near Port Allen is truly one of the oddest beaches you will find on Kauai, or anyplace else for that matter. Glass Beach is not a beach for swimming, or even getting into the water, but it is a beach to explore.

more

Hanalei Bay is by far the largest bay on Kauai and is the heart and soul of all the beaches on the North Shore. The area upon which the ocean touches the shores of the bay is what is known as Hanalei Beach the this colossal spectacle of a beach is perhaps two-miles long and in most places over 100' wide.

more

Hanamaulu Beach is located a short 3 miles north of Lihue and is protected from the ocean by the large Hanamaulu Bay. This bay is very picturesque and in the day served as the backdrop for the film "Donavan's Reef" starring John Wayne.

more

Hideaways beach is a small sliver of a beach perhaps only one-hundred yards long which is located down the side of an extremely steep cliff at Princeville.

more

Kalihiwai Beach is one of the truly beautiful North Shore Beaches. It is scenically positioned between two prominent points of land and its perfect crescent shape is first noticeable as you get a glimpse of the bay when driving down the roadway which dead-ends at the beach itself.

more

Like so many beaches on the North Shore of Kauai safety is a big issue for Ke'e Beach. This remarkably beautiful beach has been the scene of many drownings over the years and everyone entering the water here needs to be able to access the dangers clearly.

more

The wide expanse of Kealia Beach can readily be seen when driving up the Kuhio Highway just north of the town of Kapaa. The beach is perhaps a half of a mile in length and 150 feet wide in most places.

more

Kekaha Beach is essentially the last portion of the beautiful 12-mile white sand beach that begins at the southern end of the NaPali Cliffs at Polihale and works its way down the coast.

more

Lawai Beach is a small but beautiful sliver of a white sand beach that is located just off the coastal road in the Poipu Resort area. Though it does not have a lifeguard tower it often has suitable conditions for snorkeling and there is plenty to see under the surface.

more

Lumahai Beach is Kauai's equivalent of the Venus Fly Trap. A case could be made that this may perhaps be the most beautiful beach on the island. Because of its beauty Lumahai Beach was the spot that was chosen to film South Pacific and it is hard to take a photo of this beach that does not come out picture postcard perfect.

more

If you are looking for what is probably the most "family friendly" beach and beach park on Kauai you will find it at Lydgate Beach Park. You can tell that a lot of thought and caring came together at the same time in the construction of this beach area.

more

In many ways the Mahaulepu Beach experience is more of a hiking adventure than a traditional beach outing. The beautiful sands of Mahaulepu Beach are essentially the hiking path that will take you on a two mile journey starting from Shipwreck Beach in Poipu all the way to the cliffs on the eastern side.

more

Picturesque is a word that could easily be used to describe Moloa'a Bay. The few vacation rentals that dot this east side bay obviously have the same point of view, as their beachfront locations make a memorable impression in any photograph and aid in luring potential clients to their scenic ocean retreats.

more

Any list of comparable items will consist of more favorable and less favorable choices whether it be a list of vacation rentals to stay at or a choice of cheeses to bring to a picnic.

more

One of the most popular beaches on Kauai, and one of the most "people friendly" is Poipu Beach in the midst of the Poipu Resort. It would be a safe guess that the reason the resort is even here at all is because of beautiful Poipu Beach.

more

Polihale Beach is spectacular by all measures of comparison and almost every description of this beach requires the use of a superlative. This is the longest beach in all of Hawaii stretching a full 12 miles in length.

more

The only reason we are including the Queen's Bath on our list of beaches on Kauai is to dissuade you from going there at all. At the time of this writing I am not exactly certain how many people have lost their lives here but a year has passed by since the official tally had reached 29 persons.

more

Rock Quarry Beach provides the visitor with a "mixed bag". The beach, which is also known as Kahili Beach, is rustic in its own way and has a certain charm as it provides a beautiful white sand beach that is rimmed with Ironwood Trees.

more

As far as beaches go on Kauai, Salt Pond is one of the most people friendly. Foremost in importance is that it has a lifeguard on duty. Secondly, it has all the amenities you would need at the beach.

more

Another one of Kauai's spectacularly beautiful beaches is Secret Beach. This long series of gorgeous white sand beaches can be readily seen from the Kilauea Lighthouse as you look toward the Na Pali Coastline.

more

An incredibly beautiful white sand beach can be found at the eastern end of the Poipu Resort called "Shipwreck Beach". The beach takes its name from the ruins of an ill-fated vessel that crashed upon its shores years ago but has since been completely consumed by the sea.

more

Related Information

A listing of all Kauai Beaches can be found on these pages. Check for the beach that will be perfect for you!

First things first. Kauai beaches are dangerous! Yes, of course beaches in Kauai are among the very most beautiful beaches on the planet, but they are dangerous.

more

View Comments

User Comments are a new feature: Be the first to submit a Comment!