Hanauma Bay Hawaii Perfect for Snorkeling, Swimming and More in Scenic Nature Preserve
When gazing down at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, it’s easy to imagine that this spectacular marine ecosystem – with its stunning white sand and turquoise water – was formed tens of thousands of years ago by volcanic activity.
Today, the lava eruptions are no more. And crescent-shaped Hanauma Bay (“hana” means “bay” and “uma” means “curved”) has become the most popular snorkeling destination on Oahu, averaging 3,000 visitors a day.
Located about ten miles from Waikiki, this coral sand beach is in southeastern Oahu near Koko Head Crater. Because of its easy accessibility, the bay became too popular at one point by attracting up to three times as many people as are currently allowed.
Bay Receives Protection as Marine Life Conservation District
In response to over fishing, littering and other problems, the State of Hawaii in 1967 designated the bay as a Marine Life Conservation District, thereby prohibiting the removal of any marine creatures, shells, coral, rocks or sand.
In 1990, the City and County of Honolulu also acted to reverse the damage caused by years of abuse and neglect by restricting various activities and limiting the number of visitors.
One of the requirements is for visitors to watch an orientation video at the award-winning Marine Education Center, which opened in 2002. The nine-minute presentation encourages beachgoers to join staff and volunteers in becoming stewards of this living reef.
Importantly, this stewardship includes respecting the thousands of tropical fish and other marine creatures inhabiting the bay, as required by law, while refraining from touching or walking on the delicate coral formations.
What to Know Before You Go to Hanauma Bay
Here’s what you need to know about the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve:
- The beach is off Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72) at 100 Hanauma Bay Road in the Hawaii Kai neighborhood.
- From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, Hanauma Bay is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily except Tuesdays. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. the rest of the year. The facility is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
- Amenities include restrooms, showers, lockers and a snack bar.
- Admission is $7.50 for the general public and free for persons 12 years of age and younger. Admission is also free for Hawaii residents with proof of address and for military personnel and their dependents.
- For additional information, call (808) 396-4229 or (808) 395-2211, or visit honolulu.gov