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More on Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu Hawaii

Swimming on Hanauma Bay is safe, as the water is protected by a large reef. Here you can observe marine life up close, including the humuhum- unukunukuapua‘a, the Hawaiian state fish. Hanauma Bay is the gem of the Pacific and Oahu`s favorite snorkeling site. Rent your snorkel gear at one of our locations and avoid the often long lines. Hanauma Bay is part of the Koolau mountain range that was formed on the east side of the island of Oahu. Subsequent to the end of the volcanic activity that formed the main range, the north-east side of the crater collapsed and fell into the sea, leaving the Pali cliff-line as evidence of this giant landslide.


Today, Hanauma Bay is home to schools of colorful fish that live among its shallow reefs and offers great recreational swimming and world-class snorkeling for all ages. Crystal clear water, abundant marine life and a living coral reef mean Hanauma Bay is one of the premiere snorkeling destinations in the islands. A gently sloping beach fronts directly on the horseshoe shaped bay, formed in the remains of Koko Head Crater, an ancient cinder-cone volcano, now breached and filled with sea water. Because Hanauma Bay is on the south shore of Oahu, the water remains warm throughout each season, and is often a translucent greenish-blue. Aside from fish, I saw a turtle and an eel in the bay.

Vanessa and Nat at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is a great place to spend the day. Get there early, the line to get in is long and you have wait to see a 10 minute documentary about the bay before you can go down to the beach. Hanauma Bay is a flooded volcanic creator on the shore of the Island of Oahu. The rugged grandeur was created by volcanic action over ten’s of thousands of years ago when Pele made her last attempt to find home on Oahu, as legend tells. Since Hanauma bay is a marine conservation area, the fish are protected and abundant. Combine all of that with a beautiful and well equipped beach, and you get an excellent and very popular snorkeling area.

Hanauma Shuttle Bus

With clear blue waters and lively reefs full of colorful fish, it’s no wonder why this beach park is so famous. Explore the reefs by renting masks, snorkels, and fins or bringing your own. This well researched book is the first comprehensive Hawaii invertebrate book since Edmondson’s 1944 Reef and Shore Fauna. Truly, it sets the standard for all regional invertebrate books to follow. The channel provided a way in and out, as well as improving water circulation inside the reef. Quite a few species occur today in the artificial swimming area that do not occur in the natural sandy-bottomed lagoons.

Hawaiian summer getaway...Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

The waist-deep water inside the reef is perfect for novice snorkelers to explore. More experienced snorkelers might want to check with the lifeguard before venturing beyond to deeper waters to see sea turtles and other marine life. A channel near the bay’s center, dredged for telephone cables, provides access to the outer reef flat. Coral beds are found just outside the fringing reef, especially on the right side. Snorkeling among some of the most pristine reefs, teeming with colorful fish and inquisitive Hawaii Green Sea Turtles (30 – 45 minutes weather permitting). Excursion duration on the water 3 hours.

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  • Kanilea December 19, 2008, 3:24 am

    Aloha! Growing up in Hawaii my sisters and I spent many of our summer days snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. We also enjoyed taking walks along the east side of the bay exploring the many little pools and the little fish and creatures that lived in them. And if the ocean waves were not too rough we would continue around the bend and play in the large pool called the “toilet bowl.”

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