O’AHU: Snorkeling Hanauma Bay

If you want to see Hawai’i’s brightly striped fish and sea turtles, then head to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, O’ahu’s most popular snorkeling spot and an underwater park and conservation district. Protected by the state for its valuable reef ecosystem, Hanauma Bay actually is a sunken volcanic crater ringed with 2,000 feet of golden sand and open to the ocean on one side. A filigree of inner reefs separates the novice snorkels from the open ocean, and thousands of fish and other sea life from their natural predators. The bay abounds with colorful schools of striped manini, silvery needlefish, buttercup yellow tang, the large and quick palani, stunning Moorish idols, opalescent parrotfish and more.

Hanauma Bay offers incredible snorkeling, as well a place to relax at the beach and picnic. Keep a watchful eye for the every present mongoose that playfully dart around this very popular beach. You can rent snorkeling equipment on site or stop at any local ABC store ahead of time, but we suggest bringing your our own gear from home. Several services offer tours for $25.00 per person. This includes round trip Waikiki transportation in air conditioned vans and a narrated tour. Mask, fins and snorkels plus proper use and safety instructions are included. These tours give you about 4 1/2 hours of total time time.

Hanauma Bay is open daily from 6 a.m. To 7 p.m., except Tuesdays, and is located a short 20 minute drive east of Waikiki on Kalaniana’ole Highway. Children under 12 years of age, military and Hawai’i residents get in free. Everyone else pays $7.50 and is required to watch a short video about the conservation efforts made by the state to protect this beautiful bay. There is a $1.00 parking fee and you will be denied access to the park once this area has filled. We suggest arriving early, with gear, towels, camera’s and plenty of sunscreen to make your visit enjoyable.