Unless you’re in the know, Makena Landing Park doesn’t look like the top spot to go for ocean explorations in Kihei. With only a tiny sandy beach to speak of, it’s easy to drive right past this park without thinking twice. Unfortunately, that would be a huge mistake because you’d be missing out on seeing a whole world of wonders awaiting your arrival.
By going just below the surface of its crystal-clear waters, you can find the Five Caves, or Turtle Arches, with ledges and grottos galore. Colorful tropical fish and other marine life gravitate to those hidey holes, making it the top spot to see so many different creatures in one trip. As the name implies, the green sea turtles proudly call this beach home, often resting in the caves around the coral reef. On top of that, you’re likely to see reef sharks, octopuses, and manta rays as you scuba around.
If you don’t want to go deep into the water, you can get a glimpse of all the amazing sights below the surface while snorkeling instead. Butterflyfish, frogfish, and other interesting creatures zip around the tops of the reefs. Plus, the turtles often come out of their rest areas to eat and swim around in the open water. Hawaiian monk seals even occasionally make an appearance, especially if you’re being ultra-stealthy in your explorations.
When you simply want to explore without dipping in the water, use a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. The flat beach makes for the perfect kayak launching point, keeping people flowing onto the water all day long. The minimal waves allow paddleboarders to easily move across the water even when the winds start to pick up. As you cruise around the bay, keep your eyes peeled for the sight of turtles and seals breaching the water. They often come up to get air and take a peek around, allowing you to revel in their appearance until they duck beneath the surface once again.
In between all the fun, you won’t have to go far when nature calls. There’s a well-maintained bathroom right onsite near the beach entrance. You’ll also find showers nearby the restrooms for when you want to wash all the sand away after you’re done having fun. If you want to rest up a bit before heading back out, be sure to bring chairs and set them up on the grassy area overlooking the beach. From there, you can see all the action on the water plus enjoy the phenomenal views all around.
Word has spread far and wide about all the wonders awaiting at this park. So, don’t expect to have it all to yourself. The biggest crowds arrive between 9:30 am and 11:30 am when the tour boats swing by with all their passengers. Surges of visitors continue throughout the day as other local tour guides lead their guests to all the wonderful sights.
If you want to skip all the hustle and bustle, try to arrive at sunrise and finish up your adventures around 9 am. Parking spots are easiest to find in the early morning, too, so it’s a win-win. Just watch out for all the people arriving as you leave because many will go head-to-head for your spot as soon as you pull out.
-Need rental gear? Just travel north on Makena Alanui to land at Snorkel Bob’s up the way.
-If you’re not comfortable exploring the water alone, just join a tour. To figure out which company to pick, ask the scuba rental agencies for their recommendations.
-Give the sea turtles, monk seals, and other marine life plenty of space while you explore.