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Snorkeling Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay snorkeling is one of the most popular Oahu attractions and activates on the island.  There is a beautiful  expansive beach to relax on, but it's really about the marine life nature preserve sanctuary, and the amazing snorkeling experience that this special place provides!  With over 450 different Hawaiian fish species lurking about the shallow coral reefs, it is easy to see why this Oahu Beach holds its fame!

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay re-opened to the public after a 9 months of closure back in 2020.  New policies, procedures and fees apply, including a reduction of daily visitors from 3000 to 1400, an increase entrance and parking fees, and a new reservation requirement has gone into place.  

Make Your Reservation Now

On an environmental note, this marine life bay has been under study during the closure.  Marine scientist have been monitoring the healing of reefs, clarity of the water, and the increase and behavior of marine life.

Plant life grew and thrived in this short period of time, clarity of the water has increased by 64%, and fish has monitored in larger numbers and swimming closer to shore.

Monk seal have also been spotted in rare moments, sunning themselves on the beach.

Hanauma Bay Beach

Over a thousand years ago, a violent eruption blew out one side of the crater, creating the crescent moon-shaped beach that exists today.

Hanauma Bay Drone Pic

The lava rock tubes created a perfectly protected home for hundreds of tropical fish and beautiful marine life that live there today.

Snorkeling Around the Reef

Hanauma Bay School of Fish

As a kid, I loved visiting and snorkeling this amazing natural marine preserve to explore the reef’s protected caves & tunnels, and vast display of colorful Hawaiian fish – it’s like jumping into a giant fish bowl...!

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

Discover the Keyhole lagoon area located on the left hand side of the bay.  You should notice it as you descend down the hillside towards the beach.  It has a distinct key-head shaped sandy area in the ocean that is surrounded by an expansive reef wall to explore.

Back in the day, visitors would 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.


As this Oahu beach started to become more polluted and neglected, state park officials stepped in and made necessary changes to the Marine Life Preserve at Hanauma Bay.  The marine park now looks much better with the provided care. 

Hanauma Bay Rentals

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 1000 visitors are allowed into this snorkeling haven per day, so it is well-advised to arrive early.

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

1000 might seem like a lot, but they used to easily get over 10,000 visitors each day.  The marine park also takes a break and closes to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays when nobody is allowed in.  Even the fish and the coral reefs need a break from their adoring fans.

Hanauma Bay Orientation Video

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.  It highlights the importance to not walk on the reef, keeping your distance and not harassing the fish, and water safety.

This constitutes watching a quick 9 minute video on how to better protect what you are about to see.

Hanauma Bay Trash Wreath

While this might look like beautiful artwork, it actually is a wreath creation from just a single month collection of trash and belongings left behind at this beach.  Make sure to do your part and leave with everything you bring in...

Hanauma Bay Beach Area

Hanauma Bay Beach Area

Hanauma Bay has a nice sandy beach that stretches for almost a 1/3 of a mile or about 2000 feet long.  It's a playground haven for kids, but you must keep an eye on them if they enter the water. 

Hanauma Bay Beach

And while most visitors will set up camp right after they step onto the beach near the key Hole Lagoon.  We recommend walking down a bit to the right near the Triangle Lagoon area, where you can have enjoy a little more space away from the crowds.

Catch a Sunrise

Hanauma Bay Sunrise

Part of what makes Hanauma Bay so special, is that it lies at the bottom of a volcanic crater. 
Here's a view of the bay from the top...

Water Safety

Hanauma Bay Reef Drone

Water Safety - do not go into the water if you're not a good swimmer or attempt snorkeling Hanauma Bay far from shore into the outer reefs if you are a beginner.

And while there are 4 lifeguard stations at this beach, water rescues and drowning happen far too often due to unfamiliar waters and visitors not adhering to their water skill levels. Go with a buddy and check in with the life guard for more safety tips.

Admission and Park Hours

Hanauma Bay Hawaii

There is a $25 per person park entrance fee for non-resident visitors.  Admission is free for children up to 12 years of age, active military, and Hawaiian residents w/ proper ID.  There is also a $3.00 parking fee (cash only), if you are driving to this Oahu beach.  Note that there are only 300 parking spots available, and the parking lot tends to fill up quickly and is first come first serve.

Consider making a reservation early up to 48 hours ahead of time (up to 10 people per booking) with new daily capacity limits of 1400 visitors per day.  Website reservations open up at 7 AM.

They do allow a minimal amount of walk-ins each day to accommodate those who do not have internet or computer access.

Hanauma Bay Sign

Hanauma Bay is open daily, except closed on Mondays & Tuesdays, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.

Hours open :   6:45am – 4pm,

No entry past 2 PM and Victors must leave by 4 PM             

Recorded message for current fees, hours & conditions

Checkout the Hanauma Bay website for more information

Make Your Reservation Now

Lighthouse Hiking Tour & Diamond Head

Makapu'u Hike & Hanauma Bay

Set yourself up for a half day of discovery and adventure along the southern tip of Oahu, hiking up to an amazing viewing platform with views of the Windward side and lighthouse, and also to the top of Diamond Head. 

These Oahu attractions are both located on the south side of Oahu, yet not many folks have achieved climbing both in the same day.  This adventure includes transportation to and from your hotel.

Learn more and sign up...

Beach Facilities

Hanauma Bay Center
  • Restrooms
  • Beach Showers
  • Lifeguard on Duty
  • Parking lot - Up to $3.00 fee
  • Food Concession Stand
  • Picnic Tables
  • Mask, Snorkel & Fin Rentals
  • Locker Rentals
  • Education Center
  • Gift Shop
  • Beach Transportation Shuttle - Free
  • Handicap Facilities

Hanauma Bay Beach Tips

Hanauma Bay Crowds
  • Arrive early! I can’t stress how important it is to arrive early at this marine life park. There is limited parking available which fills up very quickly, and make sure to give yourself an extra 15 minutes to just park.

    Once the parking lot fills up, you will be turned away. If this happens to you,  I would recommend trying again another day, or driving back down the hill and parking near the residences below, where you can take the local 22 Oahu Bus back up the hill.

    You will also want to arrive early for better visibility underwater.  The ocean is typically calmer in the morning, and the clarity of the water is much better for viewing the colorful Hawaiian fish.

  • Food and Drinks - I always recommend bringing food, water, and other drinks to the beach. There is a snack shack onsite up top, so bringing food is optional, but it’s always good to have extra snacks of your choice just in case the snack shack offerings are not to your liking.  If you plan on bringing a cooler along with your beach gear, you might want to consider taking the beach shuttle from the parking lot down to the beach. There is no cost and it will save your arms and everything you might drop along the way.
Hanauma Bay
  • Sun Protection - Bring reef-safe sunscreen (without the use of oxybenzone & octinoxate chemicals).  Hawaii has passed legislation in May 2018, banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene - toxic chemicals that kill coral and severely damage the reefs).  For more protection, bring a long sleeve surf shirt to wear in the water.  It is easy to get carried away and before you know it, you've spent hours snorkeling around the bay.  Unfortunately this means your backside will be more susceptible to the powerful Hawaiian sun, which can result in a severe sunburn.
  • Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays - Make sure not to plan a visit at the beginning of the week as they give the bay a couple days of rest.  Consider heading to Sharks Cove in the North Shore as an alternative.  And note that Wednesday morning tend to be one of the best days of the week to visit for better clarity and more fish in the bay.
Hanauma Bay Snorkel Shop
  • Snorkeling Gear - Bring your own mask, snorkel and swimming fins if you can.  Although you can rent snorkeling equipment at the beach, it’s inexpensive and more pleasurable to have your own gear.  You'll avoid problems if the shop runs out of rentals, and you will also have equipment that fits you better and are familiar with, so you can be sure to have the best time snorkeling!

Getting There

Hanauma Bay Beach Shuttle

Take advantage of the free beach shuttle ride when you arrive in the parking lot located up top.

It is an easy 20 minute drive or 40 minute bus ride to and from Waikiki.

Oahu Map

Waikiki Trolley


The Waikiki Trolley visits many Honolulu Attractions including the Halona Blow hole near Hanauma Bay. It is an easy, popular, and convenient way to get to popular Oahu attractions.  

There are 4 different routes to explore including: Scenic Tour, Historic Tour, Shopping Tour, and the Island Tour. The Blue Line will take you past Diamond Head and out to the Halona Blowhole.  Tickets start around $15 for a child day pass, and go up to $45 - $75 for an Adult 7 day pass. 

Purchase your pass now

Driving Directions

From Waikiki, take the H-1 Kalanianaoli Highway South.  The H-1 turns into Hwy 72, but still remains the Kalanianiaoli 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 lot.

Oahu Bus

Take the 22 Oahu Bus from Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki straight to Hanauma Bay.  Depending on traffic, it should only take about a half hour to get there.

In the Area

Halona Blowhole

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 to give you a magnificent show.

Also discover the Eternity Beach that is located in this same area...

Sandy Beach Park

Sandy Beach Park Hawaii

Go from the calm Hanauma Bay waters to the pounding shorebreaks of Sandy Beach Park.  This Oahu Beach is an ocean playground for the locals to relax, body surf, and body board. 

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 patterns. 

Sea Life Park Admission - Swimming with Sharks or Sea Lions

Sea Life Park Oahu

A thrill of a life time swimming with sharks or sea lions in a controlled environment at Sea Life Park! This Oahu adventure alone offers lots of exciting marine exhibits to explore, but not many theme parks offer opportunities to interact with the animals.

Spend 20 to 30 minutes in a 300,000 gallon tank with trained professionals that educate and lead you through the experience.

Price of admission includes transportation and a full-day pass to Sea Life Park.  Reserve Limited Tickets Now!

Makapu’u Beach

Makapu'u Beach Park on Oahu

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.

Hiking Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

Climb a little higher from the Makapu'u Point Lookout, and the view becomes even more spectacular at the top, and at 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 south side of the island.

Koko Crater Trail

Koko Crater Trail

Looking to conquer the big hill?  Climb the Koko Crater Trail and the hill just might conquer you! 

The Koko Head Steps can be a lot of fun, but it is quite challenging at the same time, as you’ll be climbing 1,050 long steps up to the top!

The “steps” are actually old military railroad ties for a train that once ran supplies to the top ridge.  Make it to the top of this Oahu hiking trail, and you will be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the surrounding area, including Hanauma Bay, the Koko Marina, and Sandy Beach.

Aloha & Enjoy!

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