Situated just 20 minutes from Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve offers tourists a pristine, natural escape from Waikiki resort life.
Declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967, the half-moon bay has undergone serious conservation efforts and today stands as a great example of Hawaii's environmental protection projects.
Voted America's favourite beach in 2016, the bay, which was formed within a volcanic cone, draws thousands of visitors each year. Sun-dappled waters meet a kaleidoscopic reef and golden sands to reflect a tropical image clipped straight from a travel brochure.
More than 300 different species of Hawaiian fish live among the lava rock tubes and remarkable reef system just off-shore. As such, Hanauma Bay is one of our top recommendations for travellers looking for a top snorkelling experience while in Hawaii. Whether you've never slipped on a pair of flippers or you're an old-hand, the sites vivid display of tropical fish and marine life is almost guaranteed to impress. Visitors can bring their own snorkelling gear or hire equipment at the kiosk.
It's a quick 20-minute drive from Oahu to Hanauma Bay, or visitors can take the 22 Oahu public bus from Waikiki Beach (a 35 minute journey).
Following the 2002 opening of a marine education centre in Hanauma Bay, all first-time visitors to the preserve must watch a 9-minute video before they may enter. In this clip, visitors are introduced to the preservation work being done in the park, learn about the marine life and rules of entrance. It's important to note that it is illegal to touch or walk on coral in Hanauma Bay.
We also arriving early as only 3000 people may enter the reserve each day in order to control the impact (the water also tends to be clearer in the morning when the ocean is calmer).
A small admission fee is paid on entry and the park has strict opening hours.
Toilets, showers, picnic tables, lockers and a gift shop are all available.