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.

Visit Hanauma Bay

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.

A little history on Hanauma Bay

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.

Where is Hanauma Bay located?

Sustainable Tourism

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.

Where is Hanauma Bay located?

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.

Entrance to Hanauma Bay

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

Lifeguard stations

Grass picnic tables up by the parking lot area

How to get to Hanauma Bay

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.

Other details to visiting Hanauama Bay

Check out these other attractions in the area

Check out the best snorkeling spots around Oahu

Explore the North Shore beaches of Oahu

Things to do around Hawaii Kai

Hike the Koko Head Trail

Visit Makapu’u trail and lighthouse

Best things to do at Waimanalo Beach

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.

Thanks for visiting This Hawaii life and checking out this post on the Visit Hanauma Bay If you enjoyed reading this post, please do share it with any of the social media buttons on the slider.

Disclosure – some of the links above are to affiliate sites that are either reviews or recommendations if you book helps to keep our site running. We appreciate your supporting our website meanwhile

We love shares - Mahalo!



  1. Top things to do in Waikiki now - This Hawaii Life - […] Hanauma Bay is one of the best snorkeling areas on Oahu in this natural marine preserve sanctuary, Hanauma Bay…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.