Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, Oahu

Any traveler visiting Hawaii has a list of things to do in the most isolated archipelago in the world; from surfing to volcano trekking there is something for every outdoor sports aficionado, including snorkeling, and if based in Oahu there is no better place to give it a try than Hanauma Bay.

hanauma bay snorkeling

The 20 minute bus ride from central Waikiki will only cost you 2.5USD and will leave you right besides a lookout from which you will first admire the sheer beauty of this place. A few pictures later  several steps down the paved walkway will take you the park’s entrance, and it is here that you will have to pay the 7.5 USD fee. Expensive, I know, but this is the money that funds the cleaning, environmental studies and the maintenance of the theater where you’ll watch the introductory movie, which by the way is also mandatory.

hanauma bay snorkeling

After the 15 minute show you’ll be escorted out again and will wonder why would people even think about fishing with dynamite in the old days while you make your way to the snorkeling gear rental spot.

hanauma bay snorkeling

The girls decided to lie on the beach and soak up the sun before getting wet, and so my new Spanish buddy Ruben and I were left with the challenging responsibility of having to snorkel in one of the most beautiful reefs in the world. Or so I thought.

hanauma bay snorkeling

The water was surprisingly cool (this was early September) but the sun was finally able to dominate the sky, and I slowly swam to the deeper area of the reef where I was hoping I’d see turtles, large fish and maybe even recognize a Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii’s state fish (the name, by the way, is real-I’m not making it up). It did not take me long however to realize that despite it’s beauty on the surface the water is not as clean as I expected it to be, and the somewhat dead reef is a league behind others I have visited around the world; Pulau Perhentian Kecil in Malaysia or fish saturated Vanuatu come to mind.

snorkeling hanauma

I did not see any turtles (a few days later I found a great place to see turtles in Oahu) but as an ocean lover I enjoyed swimming among the fish and taking some pictures. Liza found the water too cool for her liking but the post snorkeling sun session quickly warmed everybody up. My take? Because of it’s proximity to Waikiki and ease of reach I would not give it a miss. The beach is fantastic by any standard and you’ll find all the facilities you’ll need, making up for a great day trip even if you’re an experienced diver- even if the reef might disappoint you a bit.

snorkeling hanauma bay

Tips

  • Get here by public bus (number 22 from Kuhio Blvd)- don’t pay 15 USD for the charter vans.
  • Bring your own sunscreen lotion, water and food- it’s pricey here.
  • Bring a water proof camera
  • Avoid crowded Sundays when possible
  • It is closed on Tuesdays
  • Bring a rashguard as the water can be too cool for your comfort.

 

Have you snorkeled in Hanauma Bay? Was it as good as you expected it to be? What other locations around the word do you know that are great for snorkeling?  Please share your thoughts below, and this post too if you think others might find it useful!

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