Kalanianaole Highway (across from the exit to Sea Life Park and HPU Oceanic Institute)
IN A NUTSHELL
- Shallow tide pools for new walkers
- Reef protects pools from rough surf
- Sand suitable for playing
- Gorgeous Views
- Breathtaking drive from town
- Parking close to beach
- No bathroom facilities
- Parking situation varies, can be a bit of a tightrope walk if it’s crowded and several cars have parked alongside the ramp, however we’ve never had too much trouble finding a space, even on Saturdays.
- Parking lot
- Water fountain
Although there are no bathroom facilities, there is a lone little water fountain with a spigot to wash your feet. I saw a family bring a big bucket, fill it up from the spigot, and dump it on their keiki to wash the sand off of them. I didn’t have a big bucket but I loved their idea and just used a big jumbo plastic cup I had in the car. There are bathrooms and showers at regular Makapu’u, the turn just before Baby Makapuu (if you’re coming from town) in case of emergencies. As my daughter is two, we just brought her travel potty and didn’t have any problems.
I think it is safe to say I am in love with Baby Makapu’u. I had heard of it from other moms for years before I ever made it there, as I was never quite exactly sure where it was located. I knew it was close to Makapu’u, which was my favorite beach on Oahu for a long time, but I didn’t know exactly where to turn. Once I found it, I ended up going several weekends in a row as my daughter loved it so much. She calls it “Baby Beach.”
Baby Beach is actually a very appropriate title for this beautiful hidden gem. I have mentioned before that Kailua Beach might be the best beach for families on Oahu, and if that’s true, then Baby Makapu’u is the best beach for the ten and under crowd. If you have a group of children with a variety of ages and comfort levels with the water, this is absolutely the perfect beach for your destination.
Baby Makapu’u features four or five tide pools separated by rocks with their depth ranging from very shallow (as low as six inches) to three and a half feet (on the far right when facing the ocean). The rocks protect all but the deepest tide pool from any surges due to incoming surf making it perfect for keiki who might be uncomfortable with rapidly moving water, toddlers just learning to walk, or even babies in floatation devices or mommy’s arms. When my normally fearless daughter got caught in the waves at other beaches one too many times and didn’t want to go anymore, Baby Makapu’u was the perfect way to reintroduce her and remind her that she does in fact love the ocean.
There are a plethora of activities for older children to enjoy at “Baby” Makapu’u as well. The water in the tide pools are filled with beautiful little fish that I was completely unaware of until a child offered me her goggles. I looked under water for only a moment and saw a school of white and silver angel fish swimming right by me and around our feet. Although the tide pools are surround by lava rock, on the left side the rocks is much smaller, and many families can be seen snorkeling in the shallow water beyond the tide pools.
Besides snorkeling, the rocks are perfect for the rough housing of the seven to eleven set. Every time I go there a group of kids will be taking turns jumping off the rocks into the tide pool (most of the rocks don’t rise more than a foot or two above the water). While this is fun (we even let our two-year-old jump off a few times, holding our hands) the rocks are very slippery, and seem to be even MORE slippery for adults so proceed with caution and always keep a close eye on your keiki at all times. Use your own judgement when it comes to this activity.
There is a very small current that runs from the deepest tide pool on the right, to the shallower pools on the left. While it depends on the tide, this can be a good setting for pre-bodyboarding, as the preschool set can enjoy hopping on their body board and allowing the current to push them gently across the pools.
The sand, which does have the occasional rock or piece of debris is still soft enough for playing and sand castles.
To access Baby Makapu’u, take the next right turn after the entrance to regular Makapu’u if coming from town. The first Makapu’u (which is gorgeous) is across from the entrance to Sea Life park and has stone bathroom facilities on the hill next to its parking. It is frequented by experienced body boarders due to the large surf close to shore. Baby Makapu’u is the next right off of Kalanianaole Highway. If you see the entrance to Sea Life Park, keep going. The entrance to the parking lot for Baby Makapuu is the next right, across from the exit of Sea Life park, across from a sign that says “Oceanic Research Institute” for Hawaii Pacific University. You make that right and it will be a parking lot and then a left turn down an incline. Head down the short incline and that parking lot is closest to the tide pools.