Hanauma Bay Hawaii is one of the most popular and most visited beaches outside of Waikiki and the North Shore beaches. But it’s not so much about the beach as it is about the marine life nature preserve, and the amazing Hanauma Bay snorkeling experience! With over 300 different Hawaiian fish species lurking about the shallow coral reefs, it is easy to see why this Oahu Beach holds its fame!
Part of what makes Hanauma Bay so
special, is that it lies
at the bottom of a volcanic crater.
Over a thousand years ago, a violent eruption blew out its volcano crater side, and created the crescent moon shaped beach that exist today. The lava rock tubes created a perfectly protected home for hundreds of Hawaiian fish species that live there today.
As a kid, I loved visiting this natural marine reserve to explore the reef’s protected pockets & tunnels, and vast display of colorful Hawaiian fish –it’s like jumping into a giant fish bowl...!
Back in the day, you could even feed the fish. But you can imagine how cloudy the waters became when each visitor had a bag of bread or part of their lunch in the ocean, trying to attract a feeding frenzy around them...not to mention that human food is not necessarily the best fish food.
Today, you obviously are not allowed to feed the fish, and they also now control the amount of visitors allowed in park at one time. Only 3,000 visitors are allowed into this snorkeling heaven per day.
To better protect the Hanauma Bay fish and coral reefs, they have also created a mandatory 9 minute education program before heading down to the beach. This constitutes watching a quick video on how to better protect what you are about to see.
There is a $7.50 per person park entrance fee for visitors 13 years of age and older. Free admission for children up to 12 years of age and Hawaii residents w/ proper ID. There is also a $1.00 parking fee, if you are driving to this Oahu beach.
Hanauma Bay is open daily, except for Tuesdays, Christmas & New Years Day.
Hours open : 6am – 6pm Oct thru March
6am – 7pm April thru Sept
6am – 10pm
Recorded message for current fees, hours & conditions – (808) 396-4229
Take advantage of the $1.00 beach shuttle ride when you arrive in
the parking lot located up top.
It is an easy 20 minute drive or 35 minute bus ride to Hanauma Bay from Waikiki .
From Waikiki , take the H-1 Kalanianaoli Highway south
H-1 turns into Hwy 72, but still remains the Kalanianaoli Hwy along the
coast. Follow this coastal freeway through the residences,
past Hawaii Kai, and up a ridge until you reach Hanauma Bay Road ,
where you will turn into the parking grounds.
Take the 22 Oahu Bus from Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki straight to
Bay . Depending on traffic, it should only take about a half
hour to get there.
You will also want to arrive early for better vision underwater. The ocean is typically calmer in the morning, and the clarity of the water is much better for viewing the Hawaiian fish.
If you continue on from the 72 Kalanianaoli
Hwy after snorkeling in Hanauma Bay , there is a fun spouting blowhole
that is just down the road. After driving around the single
cliff side lane, you will see a small turnout with parking, right
before you head on down to Sandy Beach Park.
The waves are the key
for the Halona Blowhole magic to happen. Don’t
expect much if
the waves are small and calm. But when the seas are rough and
the waves are pounding into the rocky coast, you can bet that the
Halona Blowhole will be spouting ocean spays high in the air
you a magnificent show.
Located just 5 minutes away, as you continue driving on the H-1 around the bending lava rock cliffs, you will see a long strip of sandy beach.
The name actually comes from its reputation of sand getting into everything you bring to the beach, including you! When the surf is up, it is an impressive show to watch the locals pull off some death defying stunts in the surf.
You can feel the power of these waves as they crash in front of you on this beautiful Sandy Beach. Please be advised that this is not a swimming beach and the powerful shore breaks have been known to rip off unsuspecting tourist’s swimsuits and gear.
Heed the warning
signs and if you are intent on going
into the water, it would be wise to check in with the lifeguard if you
are not familiar with the riptide and rip current
If you are feeling adventurous and would like to see one of my favorite Oahu Beaches, and part of the beautiful Windward coast, then continue on the Kalanianaoli Hwy for another 10 minutes.
After you climb the Makapu’u mountainside and start your decent down towards the beach, pull over to the side of the road where you can capture some amazing views of Makapu’u Beach and the beginning of the pristine Windward Coast .
Climb a little higher from the Makapu'u Point Lookout, and the view become even more spectacular up top, on the summit of the Makapuu Lighthouse! It's a nice 1 mile hike up a paved path. You will want to start this Oahu hike early as it tends to warm up quickly on the southside of the island.