Voted #1 Best Beach in the United States for 2016! One of the best places to snorkel on O’ahu is hands down Hanauma Bay. This stunning paradise is a very popular tourist attraction, about a million people snorkel in these waters a year! Definitely worth the visit for travelers even if crowded, this beautiful beach filled with a ton of sea life is one of those unique snorkeling experiences you won’t forget. Thanks to my friend Eli, (Instagram @elinstant), for also showing me the trail where you can hike around the bay, Hanauma Bay Ridge Hike. A mellow hike with an incredible panoramic view of the bay, along with cool cliffs to explore while watching the waves crash. A great place for a ton of amazing photos to get! This historical Bay is is a must do on O’ahu, and here is some insight to explore the beauty of Hanauma Bay and all it’s beauty and adventure.
1. Location and How to Get There-Park is Always Closed on Tuesdays
Hanauma Bay is on the East side of island and you can get there very easily by bus! The 22 Bus towards Sea Life Park, from Waikiki, will literally drop you off right in front in the parking lot. $2.50 exact change is needed for the bus. You can download DaBus app on your smartphone for route information, or Google Maps provides current transient information. Located near the beautiful Hawai’i Kai neighborhood, and the scenic view of the coast along the Kalanianaole Highway is amazing! You can contact their website hanaumabaystatepark.com and can arrange a shuttle if preferred, and/or purchase packages with snorkel gear and everything included! If you do drive out there, it is only a $1 to park, but definitely arrive early if you drive, this place gets packed quick! There are guarded security as well patrolling the parking lots. When driving from Waikiki, take the H1 Freeway, until it becomes Kalanianaole Hwy, then keep driving along the coast for about 10 miles until you see the entrance on the right, right past Hawai’i Kai.
2. Preparing for the Fun Filled Day!
The bay is always closed on Christmas Day, New Years, and always on Tuesdays. They close the park on Tuesdays so the fish and bay have 1 day of undisturbed rest. The park opens at 6am and closes at 7pm daily during the summer months. During winter, the park opens at 6am and closes at 6pm. When you enter the park everyone pays $7.50 (locals are free with proper state ID) kids 12 years and younger, and active O’ahu military are also free! If you have your own snorkel gear bring it of course, but you can rent gear at the bottom beach level for $20 (you have to leave your driver’s license). There are snack bars there but I would recommend to bring your own stuff also. People will spend hours there all day! So, tons of water, snacks, sunscreen, and beach gear. They will have lockers available to secure valuables for $8. There is a tram that takes you up and down each level, $1.00 down and $1.25 up, but it is an easy walk up and down. Wheelchairs are available for free, any volunteer there can give you more information about needing one for the day!
3. Introduction to the Park
Right when you enter the park, and it is your first time, you do have to watch a quick video on the safety of snorkeling, and how to be cautious of protecting the reef. It is very exciting once you see the view of the bay, you wanna head straight to the beach! But this video is informative and helpful, especially for people that are new to snorkeling. That is why this place is great for families and kids! This video is helpful and easy for kids to understand as well. There will be a lifeguard on duty of course, but this video helps everyone be knowledgable of the safety of snorkeling and protecting the reef.
Hanauma Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. The safety and protection of this bay is of huge importance to O’ahu. By law, all visitors are required to refrain from mistreating the marine animals, and from touching or walking on the coral heads. The bay was formed within a volcanic cone, and after years of neglect and abuse from the millions of visitors each year, this video helps educate visitors how to preserve the reef along with safety rules for the park. Please respect the park and pay attention to this video. You can also learn about the different types of fish you will see! If you live here, you can leave your email address at the end, so you won’t have to watch this video again for 12 months.
3. Now Get your Snorkel On!
Now you are here, and can enjoy this premier destination where you get acquainted with a plethora of fish and marine life. Kids can snorkel close to shore and still get to see all types of fish! I of course like to venture out far, but that is why I think this place is great for all types of snorkelers. Whether you are new to snorkeling and want to stay close, or a frequent snorkeler, you will never be disappointed being here! The types of fish you will see, Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (Hawai’i’s state fish) I still cannot pronounce this word if my life depended on it! But it is a cool fish, and cool to hear locals say it really fast! Other types of fish you can see, millets butterfly fish, yellow tangs, trumpet fish, angel fish, and a ton more!
4. If You Have Time, Enjoy Hiking Around the Bay! Hanauma Bay Ridge Hike
Mad thanks to my friend Eli, who showed me this trail that you can take to hike around the bay! Seeing the bay from all angles was amazing. Super mellow and a quick hike, and I recommend when you get to this trail to explore all around and have fun! We took such amazing photos along the cliffs and enjoyed watching the waves crash. Definitely be careful walking around, the waves here are very strong, especially during winter, but if you are lucky you might see whales like we did out there! The hike is right past Nawiliwili St to your right, going towards Hanauma Bay. You enter the No Trespassing Sign, hehe, and go up along the trail going to the right. You will see locals jogging, walking their dogs, or also enjoying the beauty that Hanauma Bay has to offer, have fun!