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What You Need To Know About Hanauma Bay
If you’re ever in Waikiki and you want to have some fun, you really ought to visit Hanauma Bay. Here’s a list of what you need to know about it.
- This bay has long been a favorite hangout, and even the members of the Hawaiian Royal Family used it for fun and fishing for many years.
- The name derives from hana which is a Hawaiian word for “bay” and uma which refers to the curves found on the local canoes that used to be popular here in this area.
- In 1967, it was officially declared as a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park. However, its state inevitable declined after many years of tourism with millions of people having fun enjoying the snorkeling beneath the waves.
- By 1990, the City and County of Honolulu deemed it necessary to restore Hanauma Bay, and their plan included various conservation tactics that helped preserve the beauty of the area. It’s safe to say that their conservation plan worked, as many snorkeling enthusiasts consider this the best location for snorkeling in the entire state.
- It was regarded as the “Best Beach” by Stephen P. Leatherman, who also goes by the name “Dr. Beach”. He’s a coastal scientist and the director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. He’s been rating the best US beaches since 1989, using up to 50 factors including the beauty of the views, the softness of the sand, the temperature of the water, and the level of public safety.
- You can use your own car or a rental car to get there. If you’re coming from Waikiki, drive down the H1 Freeway. When this becomes the Kalanianaole Highway, continue driving for about 210 miles. Once you get past the city of Hawaii Kai, be on a lookout for a hill on your right. The entrance to Hanauma Bay will be on top of that hill. The parking fee is just $1.
- You can take a bus shuttle as well, or the public #22 bus can take you there in about 45 minutes for only $2.75. You can also just take a taxi, though that will set you back by $40 to $50.
- The extended shuttle service available offer 3 round-trip pickups. These are at 7AM, 8:45AM, and at 10:15AM. The round-trip service also includes the use of equipment such as a mask for swimming, the snorkel, and fins. Just make sure you get a reservation for the shuttle service, so you can be picked up at your hotel.
- You can pay just $25 for a snorkel tour to Hanauma Bay. This covers the cost of the standard snorkel set use and you get instructions on how to use your snorkeling gear with various snorkeling safety tips. You get a round-trip ride in air-conditioned vans and the hole tour lasts 4½ hours.
- If you do drive there, you really want to arrive there early. Only 300 parking stalls are available, and don’t forget how popular this place is. By 7AM or thereabouts, you may find a completely full parking lot. The Hanauma Bay reef attracts an average of 2,600 swimmers each day.
- You can still get your own equipment at the bottom beach level when you get to Hanauma Bay. It will only cost about $20 for a standard snorkel set, but for $40 you can go with a premium snorkel set. A prescription mask and snorkel set for the nearsighted is also available for $15 at the bay.
- The standard park entry fee is $7.50 if you’re a tourist. Even if you reserve a tour, you still need to cover this charge.
- The locals with state ID do get in for free. So do children ages 12 and below, along with active members of the military. You can rent a small locker for $10, but for $12 you can get a larger locker. The tram ride down costs $1 and then going up it costs $1.25.
- You will have to bring your own floaties, vests, and life jackets. These are not available commercially here to avoid potential liability issues. You will have to bring your own.
- Other items you should bring with you include your swimsuit and a towel. It’s also a very good idea to bring a “reef-safe” sunscreen. Pick a water-resistant sunscreen cream or lotion, instead of a spray. You don’t want sunscreen that easily washes off your body and into the water. You need to avoid sunscreen that contains oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene
- You can bring a small personal cooler, but not large coolers. You can also bring in snacks and beverages along as long as they’re non-alcoholic.
- If you need to use beach wheel chairs, you won’t have to pay for them. You can use them for free. You can ask the volunteers working on the beach on how to get them.
- There’s a gift shop here on the upper level, so bring some cash so you can buy some souvenirs. Nearby and right across the cashier’s window, there’s a snack bar as well if you’re looking for some snacks.
- Normally, the park is open everyday except Tuesdays. The experts have deemed it better for the fish and the bay if they all have a day off at least once a week.
- Hanauma Bay opens to the public at 6AM, and closes at 6PM. Night snorkeling is no longer allowed, even if it was okay many years ago.
- It’s closed on December 25 (Christmas Day) and January 1 (New Year’s Day). Sometimes it’s also closed for a few days for various maintenance requirements. For example, the entire Hanauma Bay State Park is closed from September 30 to October 6, 2019. During this time, the access roads to Hanauma Bay will be repaved.
- If you do take the shuttle service, take note that giving them a tip is not mandatory. Still, a small tip will be appreciated. Hanauma Bay may not be on the mainland US, but it’s still an American location!
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