Thursday, August 13, 2015

Oahu, Hawaii: Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay State Park is amazing!  A friend recommended a visit there and we finally had an opportunity to check it out during our last visit to Oahu.  I'm glad that we did.  I had heard great things about the snorkeling opportunities there and now I know why!

Map to give you an idea of where Hanauma Bay is.
Also pictured is Waikiki (where we were staying.)
Our experience:  

It was early February 2015 so we were concerned about water temp and waves.  Not just for our visit to Hanauma Bay but for all of our water adventures during the trip.  So, after much research, we decided to get our snorkeling equipment from Snorkel Bob's.  That way we could have the equipment for a week and be able to use it at a variety of locations.  Of course, we were talked into upgrading most of the equipment and renting wet suits....  It ended up costing our family of 4 a small fortune for the equipment to ensure that we had a great experience.  Looking back - we should have NOT done this!  We only used the equipment one other time for a very quick test run.  Hanauma Bay does offer equipment rental on site that is fairly priced and is plenty good for what you need there.

They only allow a limited number of people in the bay at a time and there are MANY tour buses that bring large groups every day. Parking is hard to get!  You do pay to park in their lot but it is refundable (within 15 minutes) if you go in and there isn't a place open.  From everything I read - this is very common.  Most recommend getting there the first thing that they open.  We did not arrive as early as we had hoped.  Actually, we got there about 2 hours before they closed.  For us, parking was not an issue.  But, we also had very little time before the bay closed.  

Lots of free range poultry on the island.

First things first, after you pay to get in you have to watch a short video (8 minutes).  This is to ensure that you understand the rules of the bay and the importance of those rules.  I think they should play this movie on all flights going into Hawaii!  It covers things like:

  • It's against the law to touch the turtles.
  • Do not touch the fish, rocks or coral (it's all living).

You do sign a form after that will put you on a list.  That list will allow you to visit again over the next year without having to watch the movie again.  I'm not sure how easy that process is as we have not returned since.

There is a paved hill that you walk down to get to the bay.  Or you can pay to ride the tram.

We walked down.  I'm glad that we did as there were so many great picture opportunities!  But we did take the tram back up the hill.  Normally we would have been fine with walking but, as I mentioned, it was close to closing time when we got there.  

In the background of this picture is the snorkel rental stand.  As I mentioned, they offer plenty for your visit and at a decent price.   One thing that I thought was a little strange - all rental equipment had to be returned one hour before closing.  They REALLY pushed for people to be completely out of the park (and parking) by closing time.  It wouldn't have been too bad but we did arrive late....

We did have one couple tell us that they stopped at the Goodwill nearby and picked their equipment up for super cheap.  They planned to donate it back when they were done. 
Restrooms and changing rooms.

Lots of animals looking for food in the trash.

This picture shows the tram going up the hill to the gift shop and visitors center.

Notice the break wall?  This made snorkeling so much easier than where we had tried before!  The waves were kept out but all the beautiful fish were still there to see!

Hanauma Bay will be our #1 place to snorkel in the future!

My Notes:

  • There is no smoking anywhere in the park - so you have to leave to smoke.  But, you can get your hand stamped to return.
  • You can not take shells, sand, or rocks from the bay.
  • There is no food or beverages for sale in the bay but you can bring your own.
  • Bring your own towels!  We forgot ours....
  • There are free mats to use at the volunteer station but it closes early (closed at 4:00 pm when we were there and the park didn't close until 6:00 pm.)
  • You can rent lockers.
  • The water gets really sandy/cloudy during busy times so it may be heard to see anything when snorkeling.
  • You can not climb on the coral.

1 comment:

  1. Hanauma bay is awesome. So many beautiful fish. I Particularly like the parrotfish and humuhumunukunukuapua'a. The eels are interesting as well. There's a fee for parking and entry. Be sure to look your car and take valuables with you as the lot is known for theft. Here’s some photos from our visit to Hanauma Bay.

    Tom @