Hanauma Bay Beach (The Most Picturesque Snorkeling Spot)

Hanauma is a marine embayment formed within a tuff ring on Oahu's southeast coast, in the East Honolulu neighborhood of Hawaii Kai. Hanauma Bay is one of the island's most popular tourist destinations. In Hawaiian, the prefix hana refers to a bay.

Since 1967, Hanauma Bay has been a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park due to its formation inside a volcanic cone. The bay's distinctive curved shape makes it ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

To better protect the fish and coral reefs of Hanauma Bay, they have also implemented a mandatory 15-minute education program before going down to the beach.

Hanauma Bay Beach

The bay is home to over 400 different species of fish. Hanauma Bay is well-known for its abundance of Honu (Green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas). Hanauma serves as a nursery area for immature turtles, which nest at French Frigate Shoals. It's also famous for having a lot of parrotfish.

Parking at the beach is extremely limited, but shuttle services run several times per day out to the bay. There is also a public bus.

Outside of Waikiki and the North Shore beaches, Hanauma Bay in Hawaii is one of the most popular and visited beaches. But it's not about the beach as much as it is about the marine life nature preserve and the incredible Hanauma Bay snorkeling experience.

The bay itself is a remnant of an old volcanic cone and is part of the Koolau Volcano (one of two volcanoes that make up O'ahu). Historically, the bay was a great place for fishing, and Hawaiian royalty used Hanauma as a retreat.

Things to Do In Hanauma Bay Beach Park

There are numerous reasons why Hanauma Bay has become one of the most popular snorkeling spots in all of Hawai'i.

One major advantage is that you do not need to be a good swimmer to enjoy snorkeling there. The water is usually calm, and you can see a lot of fish just by wading in. Just offshore, there is a dense concentration of coral, which is ideal for small children who will be able to see many fish in shallow, calm water.

How To Reach Hanauma Bay Beach Park

Take the H1 Freeway from Waikiki until it becomes Kalanianaole Highway, then continue for about 10 miles. The entrance to Hanauma Bay is on the right, just past the city of Hawaii Kai, at the top of the hill.

Top Places to Visit Around Hanauma Bay Beach Park

  • Hanauma Bay State Park
  • Spitting Cave of Portlock
  • Koko Crater Railway Trail
  • Kaloko Beach, Oahu
  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
  • Hanauma Bay Trail
  • Kuliouou Ridge Hike
  • Eternity Beach
  • China Walls
  • Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
  • Koko Marina Center
  • Koko Crater Botanical Garden