Hanauma Bay: Paradise Found for Snorkelers

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An idyllic spot just ten miles from Waikiki, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of my favorite places on Oahu. If you love snorkeling or if you simply want to experience a view that will take your breath away, you won't want to miss Hanauma Bay. Meaning "curved bay" in Hawaiian, Hanauma Bay formed from volcanic eruptions that took place thousands of years ago. The bay's floor is actually a crater that filled with water as waves came into the bay. Hawaiian royalty enjoyed fishing at Hanauma and Queen Kaahumanu is said to have held hula competitions and wrestling contests there. And it is easy to see why this place was so loved, for it is nothing short of spectacular.

After the large number of visitors began to hurt the bay and the marine life there, the state took important steps to preserve the bay beginning in the 1990s. Not only was the number of visitors reduced, but educational programs and restrictions were out in place to ensure the bay would not experience further damage. Home to over 250 species of fish -- many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world, the bay also has a very rich coral reef. If you are lucky, you just may see one of the abundant Green Sea Turtles or "Honu" and parrotfish or “Uhu” which are known to thrive at Hanauma. Not only is the snorkeling out of this world, but there are several great hikes and a beach that could not be more perfect for relaxing, sunbathing, and picnicking. Personally, I like to go to Hanauma to swim, since the bay is protected from waves and the water is usually as calm as a swimming pool.

If you plan on visiting Hanauma, the most important thing to know is that you have to get there early because parking fills up fast. Think about catching the sunrise and beating the crowds. The park is open from 6am-6pm everyday of the week except Tuesday. There is a $1 parking fee and admission is $7.50 for all except children under 12 and Hawaii residents who are free. For more information about Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, including a helpful Fish Identification Card, please visit Honolulu.gov.

If you're staying in Waikiki, don't forget to stop by one of our many locations for some much needed sunscreen, snacks and bottled water. We've also got some beautiful Hawaii inspired Beach Towels available in our stores and on our Online Shop that are perfect for laying out on while sunbathing!

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