Overview of Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Hawaiian Islands


What is there that hasn't already been said about Hanauma Bay? Divers' paradise, excellent diving, friendly marine life, etc. Unfortunately, the overcrowding of this popular site has caused major environmental impact and has necessitated the implementation of many conservation measures. As crowded as this place is, it now has only one-third the attendance it used to have before restrictions were passed in 1990. Parking, and access to the beach is controlled, and volunteer docents try to educate the visitors so additional damage is avoided. One of our greatest concerns is the trampling of the reef. Although numerous signs are posted, it still constantly occurs. Although there's not too much live coral inside of the reef, other living organisms inhabit the zone, and it is basic diver etiquette to avoid touching any reef.

Directions: Take Kalanianaole Highway (72) East to Koko Head. At the top of the hill, turn right into Hanauma Bay.


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09/27/2018 Blain Hunt (Avg: 3.00 Review) - IF YOU ARE A SERIOUS SNORKELER OR SCUBA DIVER, YOU MIGHT CONSIDER AVOIDING HANAUMA BAY This beautiful, sheltered and crowded bay is possibly the most popular beach in Hawaii after Waikiki, and there is a shuttle that can give you and your gear a lift down to the beach and back. However, before proceeding to the beach you have to watch a seven minute video about how the bay was formed and how you shouldn't step on the fragile coral because that kills it. I snorkeled all around the cove on the beach side of the breakers in the middle of the bay. The visibility was perhaps 15 to 20 feet, and there were a fair number of fish. But it was a biological desert, and I saw only a single coral. When I got back to the beach I asked the lifeguard, Where's all the coral that I'm not supposed to step on? He told me, It all died from people stepping on it. I returned a few days later specifically to ask the docent who shows the video why he tells people not to step on the coral when it's been dead for years. He gave me an unexpectedly clever answer: We don't want to disappoint people. And I don't tell people "Don't step on the coral." I tell them "don't step on the rocks where living things are growing." So I don't lie. The living things he's talking about are the algae that cover the rocks that the fish graze on. This time I took about ten minutes to swim through the outer reef channel between the two cylinder buoy markers to get beyond the breaker line, AND IT BECAME A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD AND WELL WORTH THE EXTRA EFFORT. The visibility almost immediately opened up to between 80 to 100 feet. I saw many different species of coral and a lot more fish species than closer to shore. Some of the fish are just awesomely beautiful; it's like swimming in a giant aquarium. Seeing these beautiful fish live is just magical, a whole different experience from looking at them in a picture or on TV. Fortunately or unfortunately - most people don't get beyond the breaker line, so the aquatic wildlife remains safe. Of course, those lazy slackers have no idea what they're missing, and many don't care. If you do follow a channel through the breakers, try to remember where it's located, otherwise you could get severely scrapped over the rocks on the return trip if the tide is out. Ask the lifeguard for directions on where to swim to. As an alternative to Hanauma Bay, I recommend Electric Beach which is about as far above Honolulu as Hanauma Bay is below. The beach is smaller and less protected so sometimes it gets high waves. But the coral starts right off the beach, visibility is generally over 100 feet, and there are usually between one to four tourist dive boats anchored offshore. Their presence is testimony to how good a dive site Electric Beach is. The surface water temperature in late August and early September was 81 degrees further out and 84 closer to shore. And, of course, if you're a snorkeler new to Hawaii, don't get one of those free, complimentary Hawaiian sunburns; if you lack a suit, wear a t-shirt even in the water.

04/21/2017 Pascal (Avg: 1.84 Review) - Overcrowded, not much sea life or coral features. Extreme walk unless you pay for the shuttle (which we did): $2.50 per diver + 1$ per bottle. So for a 2 bottle dive expect entrance: $7.50 + $4.50 for transportation. This is not too expensive but overall we did not enjoy this place at all. We got there really early: 7am, dove at 8h30. Only see one small octopus hiding in a hole near the cables at the bottom.

08/04/2016 Rodrigo Molari (Avg: 3.39 Review) - Well First of all you have to pay $7.50 and see a movie before you are allowed in, a good tip is to arrive before 7am because they will let you in free and just talk to you instead of the movie also a good idea on summer the parking closes at around 9am and only opens after 12pm when people stars to leave. They have a service to take you and your gear down the ramp to the beach its $1 per Tank and $2 per rider for both ways. To get to the dive site walk to the right and get in the water in front of the second lifeguard station, once in the water don't stand up, use your snorkel 'it prohibit to walk', straight ahead you will see two white buoys, swim thru them , for about 30 feet and drop down you will see two metal tel line cables, follow them to the reef and then back. On the way back you will probably have a lot of current when trying to pass the white buoys, so have so extra air to go under.

03/31/2013 Russell (Avg: 3.30 Review) - I have been here twice and it has been great both times. The scenery around the beach is alone worth going. There are a lot of people but as long as you go outside the reef, it is pretty quiet. The exit to slightly deeper, less crowded water is marked by two buoys you have to swim though. There are lots of fish beyond them and both times I saw green sea turtles. Make sure you get there early if you plan on driving yourself because I think they close the parking lot when it is full, and remember, the park is closed on Tuesdays.

10/20/2011 Doug P (Avg: 3.90 Review) - Don't let the snorkeling fool you! I thought the snorkeling in the shallows kinda sucked...water was only several feet deep, virtually no coral, not a whole lot of sea life, etc. BUT if you get out past the buoys that are towards the Southside you enter another world. Almost immediately passed the buoys you get coral, deeper water, better vis and more life. Basically, the further out you head, the better it gets. I checked out the reef on the north side and found it to be spectacular once I got into water that was around 30-40FT deep. Out that far the vis was 50ft+, lots of fish, tons of healthy coral and even at depth I was warm enough with just a pair of boots and a 3mm vest. If you stay close to shore you will be disappointed, if you go out a ways you will likely have a fantastic dive. Note, in my review I gave 'solitude' a 5...this will seem absurd if you're a snorkeler, but I went diving on a hot Saturday and I was the only SCUBA diver in the water, and almost all of the snorkelers stay behind the buoys. Parking is good, but get there early. Shore entry is easy but you may want to take your gear down to shore and suit up there since it is a LONG walk. Also, you'll have to wait in line to buy an admission ticket ($7.50) and watch a short movie (they let you skip the movie if you're in their system and have been there within the year). On the beach, there's helpful volunteers, showers, bathrooms and a 'bus' that will take you to the top for a $1 (more if you have gear). Definitely a great shore dive to do in Oahu.

06/06/2011 Rory Moak (Avg: 3.99 Review) - As a local resident I find myself there almost every weekend. Usually the visibility is great in the morning in the inner bay, and starts to get as low as 4-5 feet in some areas by noon due to tourists. If you follow the cables out between the buoys the visibility usually opens up to 40+ vis. I freedive the area myself and often escort divers new to the area out to witches brew and beyond. Even when I am at the surface, I can easily view the divers at the bottom. The inner bay is still covered in algae, an most of the coral has died off in the easy to snorkel areas due to tourists, but there is still plenty of wildlife. Outside the reef the coral is still beautiful and full of color. Ask the life guard where 'the arch' is before heading out and take a peak in the caves underneath to get a good view of the white tip reef sharks sleeping there, just don't touch them so they stick around for others to see. In winter, it is common to see hammerhead sharks in the bay and an occasional Tiger swimming in the deeper part of the out bay, around 40-50ft. All in all, love this bay!

11/15/2010 Lucien (Avg: 4.10 Review) - Not a bad dive but bad conditions on the day we went. The entry is from the shore. You can put your stuff on at the beach or on the grassy part of the hill. Will go again with better conditions but a day in the water is better than not going at all. When you arrive you will have to either show a local id or military id or you will have to pay $7.50 to go to the beach. Then you will have to drag all of your stuff and watch a 15 minute presentation about how not to touch anything etc. From there you can walk down or pay to take the tram down. I opted for the tram. It cost about $10 for 7 people with 2 divers with 2 tanks. Well worth it considering you have to lug your stuff around. Once you are on the beach go talk to lifeguards as the guy we talked to was very helpful. He gave us a brief on conditions and best way to get out to the outer reef which is where the best scuba was. We entered from the beach in middle to right side and swam through the buoys. Vis was real bad 6-10 feet until we got farther out then it was amazing 40-50 feet and worth the swim. We found the cables on the ground and swam almost due E SE and saw some nice reefs and good amount of fish. We pushed limits on air expecting to surface swim back with waves. Still was very tough going on the return, we wound up too far south. Snorkeled back to middle section of return and swam down for about 100m by witches brew and surface swam the rest. Deepest depth around 60feet. Bottom line: nice dive, watch conditions, check with life guard and cheat north versus south towards outer reef. Make sure you have at least 500pounds of air for swimming underneath the current on the return.

05/14/2010 Nancy (Avg: 3.80 Review) - It was the first time I have been snorkeling and I LOVED IT This place is beautiful. A true treasure that deserves the respect which is asked for.

07/28/2009 LWS (Avg: 3.84 Review) - This is a very nice snorkel site at a very reasonable cost of 7.50 per person; children under 12 free. It's a bit of a hike up & down from the parking and entry to the beach, however the walk down/up is very doable. A shuttle is available if you prefer for 0.75 down, $1.00 up, big bags extra, or 2.50 all day. Although somewhat crowded (but much less so than Waikiki beach and the downtown hotel beaches) we always found an acceptable piece of beach to call home and layout the towels and gear. Entry into the water is easy in the center beach and to the east. The West 1/3 is very rocky next to the shoreline and difficult on bare feet. The reef starts very close to the shoreline in about 2' deep and continues out. Their are several major channels which can be viewed from the aerial photo, and there a tons of nooks and crevasses to explore. Fish can be found in as little as a few feet which is great for the kids. Saw a 12' puffer right next to the shoreline. Most of the inner bay is 4-6 ft deep with some nice channels and reef walls 8-12ft deep. Did not have a reason to go out to the outer reef and this was highly discouraged by the lifeguards, as there was great snorkeling on the inner reef. Overall, I found this to be an excellent value for family snorkeling. The water was shallow and calm enough the very young, and novice snorkelers to learn and enjoy (my son is 6 and daughter 17); while interesting enough to keep the intermediate and maybe even advanced snorkeling entertained. The reef has lots of fish and I spotted 4 different sea turtles on one midafternoon outing. Thus, this is a must do dive if you can make to east side of the island. Koko head is close, but I don't recommend trying to do both in one day.

02/21/2008 Melissa in Hawaii (Avg: 4.31 Review) - Went snorkeling with my husband and two children (4 and 7). We had a great time and saw a good bit of fish. The scenery and water life are magnificent! The only downside is that is was crowded. We usually prefer a spot more secluded.

12/01/2007 Brian C (Avg: 3.58 Review) - I dove this site 20 years ago and was very disappointed at the decrease in the numbers and variety of fish in the inner reef. It is still a great snorkel and there are occasional turtles that come in. It is crowded most of the time but the park limits the numbers so it is tolerable. There is a fee for non Hawaiian or military, and there is a parking fee, but the cars are secure. We did a dive on the outer reef. This is an easy dive and the fish are unafraid. Some of the fish are quite large and we had a large school of jacks swim around us. We saw some turtles as well. Any new diver could do this dive with ease. Our max depth was 48 feet with most of the dive above 40. While you can walk down to the beach I would recommend paying for the tram. We geared up at the car and then just finished up on the grass by the lifeguard stand. We took the channel, marked by buoys, on the right side of the reef and it was an easy out. To come back follow the cables.

11/18/2007 Gary from Denver (Avg: 3.70 Review) - My first ever Oahu shore dive. I'd have to give it an excellent rating because it's almost perfect for the recreational diver and, if you're into hardcore stuff, the outer reef awaits you. The entry point is about 50yds from the drop off point of the little car which will haul you and your gear down to the base of the crater. It's marked with a dive buoy so it's tough to miss. I would surface swim through the gap (you don't have to crawl over the reef). This is pretty easy to do because the water spills over the reef and exits through this gap (take note of this because it's pretty tough to get back in). Surface swim toward the crater rim. After you get in about 25ft of water you can drop down and enjoy some very nice reef that hasn't been beat to death by the tourists. Once down you'll find two cables. Follow either on to the rim and enjoy the dive. Turtles, squid, all kinds of reef fish. Plan about 300lbs of extra air to get you back through the gap. This is easily the toughest part of the dive. You literally have to bottom crawl to get back in. The only other tough part of this shore dive is getting your tanks from the car to the place where the shuttle picks you up. I'd suggest taking a small luggage cart or something with wheels to get the tanks there. I lugged them but the haul back to the car was a little tough.

10/30/2007 Bill Stohler (Avg: 3.54 Review) - First, let me say that shore access to the 'Toilet Bowl' dive referenced in my 2002 review has been closed for some 5 years. I returned to Oahu diving after a 7-year hiatus of diving Maui and Monterey, CA in 2005. The outer reef here is as good as ever. There are now large schools of jack, still quite a few turtles, occasionally schooling oval squid, and once in a great while, Manta Rays! This appears to be THE spot for rebreather divers. You can follow the cable out of the bay to the right, and dive along the wall for as long as the scrubber will last! I like to do a dive along the cable to 100 feet or so, returning after some 80 to 85 minutes on an 80 cf scuba tank.... lots of others would require 100 to 120+ cf for the same length and depth of dive. Most divers here don't make it past 60 feet, but that's ok, as the Witches Brew has almost as much action, and is only 0 to 30 feet deep! Visitors are required to pay $1 for parking, free admission for residents (something like $5 for visitors), and endure a 15-minute semi-educational video (only required once a year if you sign the sheet afterwards). Even though access is a hassle, to me, the rewards far outweigh the cost.

08/04/2007 Anonymous (Avg: 2.66 Review) - Definitely will not be my first choice for future shore dives. I'll go here again only if ALL other sites are closed. Despite other reviews which said this was a great dive site, our experience wasn't that great. Although they have a trolley to help you get your gear to the beach, you have to pay for it. $1 for each trip up and .50 for each trip down. And, as if that's not bad enough, they charge to transport tanks and or bags. Once we reached the beach, perhaps we entered at the water at the wrong location; however, getting over the reef even at high tide was difficult at best. I literally had to crawl over the reef with my BC fully inflated while trying to avoid doing any damage to the reef. After that, we navigated through the reef maze to reach 25 feet of water. Stick with snorkeling at this site!!

06/17/2007 Melissa (Avg: 3.96 Review) - For beginning snorkelers this is an awesome spot. A little crowded at times, but I really enjoyed myself- until I spotted an eel. Saw some gorgeous fish and didn't have to go very far from shore. For anyone who is a little nervous about the ocean (like me), this is a great place to start. I can't wait to get back out there and go farther out.

12/23/2006 Anonymous (Avg: 2.61 Review) - This is one of the few shore dives available on Oahu in the winter time due to the heavy surf. My daughter and I went to this site in late November 2006 and I was somewhat disappointed. This is because I was at this same location in March 2006 and it seemed much nicer and had many more fish. During this trip the visibility was about 30ft at best and there were few schools of fish. I'm not sure what changed…maybe it was just the time of year. While this is a Nature Preserve area, it has been over populated by too many tourists who have no regard for reef conservation. You have to watch a video about the bay and its rules before you enter the bay. Nonetheless, it's common to see at least one or more tourists standing on the reef even though the video explicitly says "Don't stand on or touch the reef." As a result of the dying reef, fewer fish are coming into the bay. If you are going to SCUBA dive this site, you can get good tips at the information desk located on the beach. The showers and facilities are good. Unless you are training for the Iron man Competition, I recommend paying $2 for the daily unlimited trolley rides. Scuba tanks are an extra dollar or two, but it's well worth not having to lug your tanks up and down the steep hill. Be careful of the surf if you're snorkeling along the left side of the bay just past the reef. The surf can get rather rough there. When a large wave came ashore, my daughter lost her mask and snorkel there, and I almost did also. Luckily we had a backup. Overall, this site is better than nothing in the winter. In the summer, I would head to some of the better sites on the north shore. If you do go to this site, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE VIDEO AND STAY OFF THE REEF so others can enjoy this site for years to come!!!

12/17/2006 John Hoover (Avg: 3.00 Review) - I just want to comment that the widespread stories about coral being trampled and killed at Hanauma Bay are untrue! The inner reef is a fossil coral reef which died many hundreds of years ago due to a lowering of sea level. It is too shallow and wave-washed now to support much living coral. The existing shallow reef is covered with coralline algae - almost microscopic plants which deposit a veneer of limestone and are actually responsible for most reef-building in Hawaii. This is the plain, brownish, sometimes pinkish stuff that most people think is dead coral. According to the environmental impact statement prepared when the present facilities were built, the present condition of the bay is not due to human impact. Beyond the inner reef where the water is deeper there is LOTS of healthy living coral.

08/23/2006 Austin (Avg: 4.00 Review) - Great snorkeling for the beginner. We used to dive the outer reef, huge schools of ULUA and we have seen tiger sharks up to 14' in about 40' of water.

08/17/2006 Rick from New Tripoli (Avg: 3.19 Review) - With just a day on Oahu in early August 2006, we dropped into Hanauma Bay for a snorkel. What a beautiful place! But the coral really is damaged and despite the educational efforts, people still walk on it. If you get to the outside of the reef in 15-25 feet of water there are some nice large coral formations and some good soft coral. There are turtles on the outside, too. On the plus side, the fish are unafraid everywhere, so you get some good up-close views of normally skittish ones like butterfly fish. The current can be a bit strong while trying to get back in. There are two major gaps to get out beyond the reef: one about mid-beach and the other to the extreme west. At high tide it is possible to go over the reef, but be careful not to touch.

06/03/2006 Lynlee (Avg: 3.27 Review) - Since I am returning to Hawaii in 2007, I thought I would check in on this site. I have to say I am tempted to return to Hanauma Bay as it was lovely above and below the water when I was there in 2004, but the devastation happening to reef is heart breaking. Despite an educational film in several languages that was required watching, literally dozens of people were standing and walking on the reefs, and laughing loudly about it. I am always the first person to rag on American tourists, but I have to say it was the international tourists that were the worst. It also got really crowded and slicked with suntan lotion. I wonder if it is best to get there first thing in the AM. I cannot imagine how this must have been before it was damaged and abused. There should be heavy fines for stepping and walking on the coral - they would make a fortune. I guess you should go because one day this will be completely destroyed if there are not measures taken to stop the abusive visitors.

04/28/2006 Laura (Avg: 3.53 Review) - It was my first time ever snorkeling and I think that I picked a great place to learn. I was out in the water for an hour at a time. I went out 3 times, and each time I went out a little farther. On the last time out, I went the farthest, but on the way back the water started to get cloudy from all of the visitors. I really wanted to see the turtles but we didn't see any. I will definitely revisit next time I am in Hawaii.

03/28/2006 Henry in Toronto (Avg: 4.46 Review) - One of my highlights of 18 day Hawaii trip!!! Bay is AWESOME!!! The Reef fish AWESOME!!! I will be back....

03/16/2006 Mark Pidcoe (Avg: 3.76 Review) - This is a guide to my favorite entry and dive area. Go along the left side towards Toilet Bowl, about 50 yds past the arch you will see a natural wash basin at the base of the cliff. Look right and notice the natural staircase sloping inland. Enter and Exit here. Water depth is 20-35' so lots of bottom time. Stay within 50yds of the shoreline for the best coral and critter viewing. I have never had vis less than 80' in this location and the marine life is fantastic with butterflies, angel fish, turtles, tangs and eels, as well as the occasional lobster and octopus. Long walk from the beach but well worth it. Fantastic snorkeling for more experienced snorkelers. When I was stationed on Oahu this was where I took all my visitors for snorkeling. Best time is mid-Fall thru mid-Spring when the predominate surf is from the North Pacific. Skip in Summer due to Southern swell.

02/02/2005 Mike Lieberman (Avg: 4.14 Review) - For a beginner this is a wonderful place. A well equipped state(?)run park - $5 entry. Took the bus from Waikiki. Snorkel rentals on site at the beach. Beautiful beach, reef, grassy area, shade, some picnic tables. Bring a picnic and make a day of it.

10/31/2004 Brian McLean (Avg: 3.25 Review) - You have to pay to get in, and pay to get your tanks transported down to the water (you are not carrying them that far) and then pay to get them transported up. It isn't that much, but there are a lot of good diving places on the island. This is a good place to go if you are going with snorkelers. More to see if you swim way out, but much of the reef has been ruined by ignorant tourists.

09/09/2004 Seth Bareiss (Avg: 3.88 Review) - This is an excellent place... THE place... to dive and snorkel on O'ahu. I'd particularly recommend that introductory divers try SNUBA there. (SNUBA is like Scuba, hut with much less equipment. The tank is in a rubber canoe, and air runs through a hose down to the diver's regulator.) It's a lot less stressful than intro diving in full SCUBA gear. Beginner divers and snorkelers should enjoy the knee-depth to 12-foot depth of the "keyhole" area, the coral-rimmed sandy area on the extreme east side of the sandy beach. Beginners and snorkelers should stay clear of the narrow opening there between the inner reef and the area beyond the wave break, because the current's strong there. Advanced divers will follow Bill's advice on this page. Bring a Fuji quick snap recyclable snorkeling camera. Try not to stir up the bottom, and DO NOT STAND ON THE REEF. The reef there is 90% dead from snorkelers standing on it. The fish are accustomed to being fed bread, frozen peas, and real (environmentally OK) fish food. Near the beach, in waist-high water, silver chub may overwhelm you in a feeding frenzy. Do NOT touch or even influence the swimming of the turtles, as they are very thoroughly protected by law, and they're easily stressed-out AIR BREATHERS. The bay is closed on Tuesday mornings, for cleaning. The bay may also be closed to tourists on weekends. Ignore tour agents who try to sell van-rides to the bay from Waikiki. However, it can be VERY difficult to get parking at the Bay. Two alternatives: 1) take the 30-minute public bus ride from Waikiki (grab a $10, 7-day public bus unlimited ticket, at a convenience store !) or 2) park in the Hawaii Kai shopping center and take the public bus up to the bay (or make the long walk).

07/12/2004 Don (Avg: 3.62 Review) - Outstanding! Steep hill to beach, trolley available ($4.00 per tank) Turtles, sharks, lots of fish. Nice protected bay.

06/11/2004 Sharon L. Ward (Avg: 5.00 Review) - Went to Hanauma Bay, O'ahu for my first time - May 2004. I have never snorkeled before - went two times during my week there. My sons sent me to Honolulu, HI for my 50th birthday gift - one son lives there and the other flew in from Texas. (Got to spend a week with them!) In my 50 years - I have not done anything as fun and also the beauty of the fish and reefs was tremendous. I took a underwater camera both trips snorkeling - each time using the whole roll of film - got some pretty good shots of the beautiful fish and coral/reef. The water was clear and plenty of species of sea creatures. I live in San Diego California - and the water here is not near as beautiful as Hanauma Bay or any water in Hawaii. (But I might say that Coronado here in San Diego did win the number 10 place in the US for 2004 - and it is a beautiful beach!) I have also downloaded as my desktop back ground on my computer at work - a view of Hanauma Bay - just for the memories..... so beautiful! My trip to Hanauma Bay is all I talk about now - was a trip of a life time for me! Hope go back soon!

02/08/2004 Mark N (Avg: 3.29 Review) - Spent 4 days here Jan/Feb '04. Excellent time. Saw the following barracuda (I'm pretty sure didn't stick around to ask) eel (2x), scribbled (beautiful pictures don't do it justice) and barred filefish, stripe belly puffer, stocky hawkfish, pearl bird, x-mas, belted and Hawaiian cleaner wrasses, lei and picasso triggerfish, tons of surgeonfish butterfly fish and tangs, orange and blue spine unicorn fish. All this inside the reef the water was rough when I was there. Sandman's Patch and the rocky area just in front of it providing best action. They need to ban or discourage the use of flippers inside the reef next. Visibility gets killed by them as they day goes on and you really don't need them. Proven to me by the fact that Sandman's patch which was too far and rough for most of the real tramplers to get to and kick up. Hope to get outside next time as I did in '03. One of my favorite places on earth. Coral is coming back in the rocky crevices inside; got some good pics of that, too.

01/01/2004 Ed at Atlanta (Avg: 4.79 Review) - We will return in Dec 2004 for our 4th visit to Hawaii (1978; 1998; 2002). Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay are our fav spots. The snorkeling is tranquil with plenty of sea-life. Staff is fantastic, equipment clean.

11/12/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.60 Review) - It was pretty cool! We saw lots of sea turtles. The water was really cloudy until you get way past the reef.

07/03/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 4.56 Review) - We had never snorkeled before and there can't be a better place to learn. If you stay inside the wave breaker, there is no current or waves to contend with. The visibility was great and fish were everywhere. We went early on a Sunday morning so the crowd was very small. It was a great experience for everyone who went.

02/02/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.92 Review) - We had a blast here only had to go a couple of feet from shore to see lots of large fish. Great site for beginners; all of us were. Couldn't believe how many varieties we saw; the Sea Turtle was the highlight. Recommend to all.

07/28/2002 Bill Stohler (Avg: 3.11 Review) - There are generally two dives I like to do here. For the first, walk along the beach until you are in front of the second orange life guard tower. Then head straight into the ocean (look for a gap between the rocks on the surface) and follow the old telephone cable out to sea (the current through the notch can make returning difficult). For a deeper, longer dive, follow the cable on out to deeper water. I usually don't drop until I'm in 20 feet or so, so that I can explore the outer part of the bay (watch for current the farther out you go). Great topography, marine life, reef structures to the right side, especially once you've rounded the corner. Can dive in excess of 100 feet. Left side: When the ledge is open for walking (it's often closed due to large waves breaking on the lava trail leading to the 'Toilet Bowl'), I hike all the way past the Toilet Bowl to a small channel just before the point and do a giant stride. Watch the waves here (potentially deadly). Great wall that drops to 70+ feet on the left side, but once again, there is often a strong current (not for a beginner). The wall has some shallow caves that warrant exploring. After you're done on the outside, I like to return by crossing the bay and end up coming back through the telephone cable channel. Elsewhere, you're likely to end up stuck on top of the very shallow reef, depending on the tide! Some of the best reef structure on Oahu is found in and around Hanauma Bay.

07/13/2002 Dave CO (Avg: 4.17 Review) - This site is by far the best snorkeling site I have been to (which includes various Oahu sites, a lot of Southern California sites, including Catalina Island, and the Florida Keys) . A must-dive for beginner scuba divers (I got certified here). Drawbacks--they charge 3 bucks I think it was to go down to the beach. Parking can be full, so you might have to park at the grocery store 3/4 of a mile or so West of the bay and walk up a hill---not recommended for scuba divers with gear.

05/16/2002 Sabot Ranger (Avg: 3.82 Review) - This site is perfect for the diver to bring non-diving snorkelers to share the experience. You can share the same sights and discussions of sealife. Bring a cart to schlep the gear to the bus down the hill or wear it. I don't like the wear and tear of wearing my BCD that far and I like 2 tanks at one site so I carry it all down and back up. But it is a haul. Go early or late to avoid crowds. Limited numbers are allowed in so get there before 8:30am. Go out past the surfline on the left side as you look to sea and meander right. Next dive go deep and circle back. Your snorkel friends can follow above you on the shallow dive, but wear at least a skin to protect the reef and probably a shorty as it is chilly. Turtles galore, every species of Hawaiian sealife you can imagine. Great place for non-divers to snorkel and feel like they dived seeing everything you would; visibility is great! Don't break the mouth of the cove as you can get swept out deep.

05/08/2002 Wayne Belk (Avg: 3.00 Review) - I agree about the effort not being worth the payoff. The hike with equipment, even using the trolley to go down to the beach, is too much work. There are many better shore dives on the island. The surface swim out into the bay is a bit of a pain. The best approach is to time your efforts with the surf. Only kick as the water pulls you out. Pay close attention to rock ledges. You may see some interesting things. My buddy, using the handle of his knife, played a gentle tug-of-war with an octopus. The little guy looked like he enjoyed the game, but didn't really want to come out of his hiding space.

01/16/2002 Sharon Chappell (Avg: 2.85 Review) - We must have visited on an unusual day. It was very difficult to kick past the surf without getting smashed against the reef. Almost called the dive but kept going. It was too much work for little reward that day. Not many fish and viz wasn't great - 40 ft maybe.

01/10/2002 Rick Wyatt (Avg: 3.46 Review) - Reluctantly tried this site 01/02 because it was too rough to dive in other sites. Luckily found someone who dives this bay often as a photographer and got his advice. We walked along right side of bay along rock ledge almost to Witches Brew point. Snorkeled out and away from beach until found the cable which runs along bottom. Followed cable until it crosses a sandy spot from one reef to another. At the far end of this second reef we descended to 55ft. This is where we saw 6 sea turtles. Followed cable back to shore. Most divers don't go far enough in following cable from shore. Get away from the crowd and see the turtles!

01/02/2002 Glenn Gunter (Avg: 4.35 Review) - Staging your gear is a bit of work, but well worth it. Lots of turtles, cuttlefish, and Moray eels. Big crowds of sunbathers and snorkelers, but not overbearing. Friendly atmosphere and great facilities. Tram/Trolley is moderately priced.

07/26/2001 Luke VanValkenburg (Avg: 3.62 Review) - This is a tourist destination. A must go for snorkeling. The down sides are. You must pay to park. You must pay to enter the beach. Its a very steep and long walk down to the beach. You can take a trolley but they charge you for that also and they charge you even more if you have scuba gear. Very big crowds. It's a very fun place to take visitors but it's to much trouble and work to go diving..

05/21/2001 Dale (Avg: 3.08 Review) - I have snorkeled here many times. The diversity of animal life is quite good and colorful. Being a marine sanctuary, it seems that the animal life truly knows and enjoys their safety, so very little is hidden. For a beginner, especially, this is an exceptionally great place to visit. The only real drawbacks are the crowds and the limited access.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: OA1601


Entrance at Hanauma Bay 

You can't miss the entrance to Hanauma Bay, as you travel up the grade, on the side of the volcano.


 Map     Sat
GPS: OA1602


Parking at Hanauma Bay 

There is plenty of parking, all day for a dollar. Bring some extra dollar bills with you to pay for the trolley, since you can't drive your gear down to the beach. You could carry your gear up and down the steep climb, but we didn't!


 Map     Sat
GPS: OA1603


Entry at Hanauma Bay 

This is a view from the left of the beach. A good entry for snorkelers is the sandy patch just beyond the rocks.




Aerial at Hanauma Bay 
(click photo for details)

The entry for divers should be from the right side of the beach, with easy access to that beautiful channel. Be forewarned, however, this is an advanced dive, as rip currents can sweep you along. We recommend that you do your first dive with a guide, or talk to your local scuba shop to get information on the seasonal conditions.

Last Verification: September, 2000  


Diver Averages for  Hanauma Bay  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.71
Bottom Conditions:  3.88
Reef Conditions:  3.62
Animal Life:  4.02
Plant Life:  2.98
Facilities:  4.07
Solitude 2.45
Roads:  3.93
*Site Average:  3.62

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.38
Beginner Scuba:  3.55
Intermediate Scuba:  3.29
Advanced Scuba:  2.98
Night diving Scuba:  2.50

Number of reviews for this site: 42


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