Visit Hanauma Bay for the best snorkeling spot in Oahu, Hawaii
Hanauma Bay is really the premiere snorkeling spot on Oahu to experience the best of tropical fish, coral and marine life in this marine preserve. The Hanauma Bay nature preserve is perfect with its high fish population and coral reef, shallow bay that is protected and probably the tamest fish you’ll find on the island. Visit Hanauma Bay for the best snorkeling experience you’ll have in Oahu with the most beautiful and well protected preserve in the State to enjoy now.
A little history on Hanauma Bay
Originally the crater was created about 40,000 years ago from intense and violent explosions of lava vents erupting directly from the ocean floor and blowing steam, rock, coral and ash around the perimeter and creating this crater effect of hard solid tuff and eventually becoming the cliffs that naturally protect the bay portion. Hanauma Bay is both a nature preserve and a Marine life conservation district.
The current process of creating a balance of tourism and preserving nature and marine conservation has has allowed visitation from a peak of 10,000 visitors daily to less than 1,000 daily visitors currently along with a reservation system that requires you book at least 48 hours in advance of your visit. Over 400 species of tropical fish live in the bay along with endangered honu or green sea turtles and other marine life.
Where is Hanauma Bay located?
On the southeast end of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is located in a hollowed out volcanic crater that protects from major swells from destroying the fragile reef in the bay and is one of the best natural marine preserve on the island. Just a short drive from Honolulu and Hawaii Kai, Hanauma bay can be reached on Hwy 72 from Honolulu and goes directly to the entrance of the bluffs and parking area.
From a height of having over 10,000 visitors come daily, the city and county of Honolulu reversed course to allow only a maximum of 1,000 visitors daily to the nature preserve. The Hanauma Bay Marine Education Center was created in 2002 to teach visitors about this unique bay and the ocean ecosystem that thrives in this environment. This living ocean museum is cared for in a way that allows for visitors and also preserving the fragile ecosystem. All visitors to the bay must watch a video before entering the park area. After watching the video, you are allowed to enter and walk down to the beach area.
Snorkeling and diving
With a white sandy beach that extends out into the water a short distance, it is an easy entry to the ocean and see the coral beds right away to find a variety of spots to explore and snorkel. The area close to the shore is shallow and goes to an average depth of 15 feet and deeper the further out you go. There are interesting caves, crevices and rock formations beyond the coral areas to also explore and look for unusual marine life in the area.
Entrance to Hanauma Bay
Fee is $12.00 per person over 13 and free for under that age. Hawaii residents are also free to enter the beach area. Parking is available on the ridge above the beach area. Arrive early or later in the day because the parking lot fills early and costs $3 for parking. (there are only 300 spots in the parking lot). The alternative is to take the city bus or go with a private tour outfitter offering tours of Hanauma Bay so you don’t have to deal with all the hassles of driving and parking.
There is a 10-minute walk downhill to the beach area or you can take a tram ride for $1 and $1.25 for return
Open every day except Monday and Tuesday from 6:45am to 4pm
Reservations have to be done 48 hours in advanced
Check details on the main website here.
Check out this fun video exploring Hanauma Bay and snorkeling experiences.
Hanauma Bay Facilities and attractions
A nice sandy beach has all the amenities for beach fun and snorkeling to include:
Showers, restrooms and even lockers to store belonging
Concession stand and snorkeling rentals
Grass picnic tables up by the parking lot area
How to get to Hanauma Bay
From Honolulu or Waikiki drive down to Hanauma bay is just 10 miles east on Hwy 1 which then turns into Hwy 72. Continue past the Hawaii Kai Shopping center and you’ll eventually go uphill to the ridge area overlooking the bay. There is a parking sign to the Hanauma Bay entrance and follow it to get a parking spot. The parking area lots fill up early during the day time so getting early is key and you also need to reserve to get a spot into the beach and snorkel areas.
Other details to visiting Hanauama Bay
You have to make a reservation to enter Hanauma Bay now, please check their website details here to make a reservation that will work for you.
Only 1000 guests will be accommodated everyday at Hanauma Bay
Visitors will have to watch a video orientation on corals and tropical fish, safety and other snorkeling instructions.
Hanauma bay is open from 6:45am to 4pm from Wednesday to Sunday
Parking fee is $3 per car and $12 per person entering the beach area. Oahu residents are free.
There is a rental facility for snorkel gear at the beach area
There are lockers on site to store any valuables or personal effects
There is a snack bar concession on the upper part of the entrance area
Sun screens used in the water have to be reef safe protected screens only. Please make sure you only use reef safe which does not leak and of the typical toxins into the water which is harmful for all the marine life and tropical fish.
Check out these other attractions in the area
Check out the best snorkeling spots around Oahu
Explore the North Shore beaches of Oahu
Conclusion on a Visit to Hanauma Bay
For snorkeling fun, you’ll love explore all fun activities and attractions around this easy accessible reef and beach areas of Hanauma Bay on the east side. Hope this gives you some great ideas of things to do and see around the town and outlying areas to visit.
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