Makaha is home to one of the most renowned big wave surfing spots in the world, garnering international attention before Waimea Bay and Banzai Pipeline. But this leeward gem of Oahu is also one of the most misunderstood. Because of this, we’re providing visitors staying in this neck of the west side with some insight into what they need to know before landing at HNL.
3 Things Visitors Need to Know When Heading from Honolulu International Airport to Makaha
What You May Have Heard
The west side of Oahu, especially the Waianae and Makaha area, has a bit of a reputation for being one of the lower income spots on the island, peppered with tent cities and little to see aside from sun-charred oceanfront landscape. While Makaha may not be as popular with tourists as the neighboring resort community of Ko Olina, the saturated shores of Waikiki, the breathtaking windward side, or lush North Shore, it is not to be overlooked.
For one, Makaha has history. In addition to being one of the very first big wave surfing meccas, it served as the home to the west side of Oahu’s most treasured child – Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole. The world famous musician and lead of the Makaha Sons of Niʻihau was known for the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” melody and so much more. His spirit can be felt within the people and land all over Makaha to this very day. In other words, ALOHA is found everywhere in Makaha even if upscale commercial and residential developments are not.
Plus, Makaha is growing. People from all over the island are coming to the west side for the lack of pretension and access to uncrowded beaches along with the activities that come along with it. Keep reading.
What to Do When Arriving Early
One thing we consistently discuss as a point of convenience for new visitors, is what to do when you arrive at HNL early and have time to spare before checking into your hotel or vacation rental. For the most part, this is an easy enough task, but biding time is more challenging in some parts of the island than others. Makaha is certainly one of them.
If you’re staying in a hotel in Makaha, it’s the Hawaiian Princess Resort. This is right next to Makaha Beach so you can simply leave your luggage with the concierge and explore. There are typical (albeit older) beach facilities to use so you can hop in the water and enjoy. That being said, if it’s the winter season the waves and current can be fairly treacherous so you may prefer to simply lay down a beach towel, set up a beach umbrella, and relax. Otherwise it’s fairly calm in the spring, summer, and early autumn. When calm, you can hop right in and swim, snorkel, or wade along and beach comb. In fact, the ocean off of Makaha and the west side offers some of the best snorkeling and diving spots on the island. The saltwater off of this shoreline is teeming with sea turtles, dolphins, and a massive variety of tropical fish all year long.
There are some great franchise and local places to eat, but they are further away from Makaha Beach. For example, there nearest Starbucks from Makaha Beach is over an hour walk away. There aren’t many places left on the island you can can say that about! Still, you can hop TheBus down Farrington Highway to Waianae Mall, which is a short 15-minute transit ride away for refreshments and to grab essentials (from Long’s Drugs, etc.) for your stay. Just be sure to stock up on sunblock because Makaha and the surrounding area is the driest spot on the island – which is is a big plus for visitors hoping to avoid a rained out Oahu vacation.
If kicking around in the hot sun prior to check-in isn’t your cup of tea, you can always spend it in air-conditioned comfort by taking a custom island tour. We’ll pick you and your party up from HNL and take you on a fun local excursion until it’s time for you to check in. Learn more about our custom tours here.
How to Get from HNL to Makaha
The 45-minute (plus) trek from Honolulu Airport to Makaha is via I-H-1 W and HI-93 W, and the latter seems to have never ending road construction. From a visitor perspective, the drive pretty much sucks from HNL until you hit Kahe Point Beach Park (25-30 minutes from HNL) when the sun-kissed coastline finally opens up. Still, you don’t want to rent a car from HNL for this one, as it’s not a pleasant drive to start, and city transit from HNL to Makaha is out of the question especially as it gets later into the evening. What about taking a taxi? Too expensive. Ride share? While Uber/Lyft are great for your activity excursions to/from Makaha, it’s not much of an option to/from the airport. What about a shuttle? Given that Makaha is on the west side, you won’t find traditional airport shuttles to the Hawaiian Princess Resort and certainly not to any Airbnb or VRBO properties. But don’t worry, we have you covered. We offer direct, flat-rate, no-share direct shuttle service from Honolulu International Airport to Makaha. All you need to do is exit from HNL baggage claim and into your brand new and comfortable Toyota Sienna chariot and let us take care of the rest.
(Rate for up to a party of four!)
We hope the information above provided you with some greater insight into your up and coming visit to Makaha. To book your private Honolulu Airport shuttle to this west side island town, call us toll FREE at 1.800.929.1219.