Snorkelling at Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


The Hawaiian islands have arguably the best snorkelling in the United States of America. The Hawaiian Islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean offer an ecological environment not found in many parts of the world. Today’s visit to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve highlighted what a special environment the Hawaiian Islands are to the world.

This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Marriott Bonvoy and further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Snorkelling at Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, United States of America.

Since we were staying at the less impressive but perfectly comfortable Sheraton Princess Kaihulani, we planned our excursions away from Waikiki while we spent our nights at this conveniently located and well priced Waikiki Beach property.

Our plans for today were to visit the Hanauma Bay, which was reported to be one of the better beach bay’s on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. While Hanauma Bay is closer to Honolulu than some of the other beaches on Oahu, it’s still less busy than the Waikiki Beach Strip. Like the Waimea Bay Beach park, access by car was really the only reasonable way of to the beach.

Getting to Hanauma Bay:

Like on our past trip to Waimea Bay Beach Park, we rented a vehicle for our transportation needs from the Hertz Hyatt Waikiki Beach outlet. The Hertz Waikiki Beach Outlet is conveniently located immediately across the street from the Sheraton Princess Kauihani, making it a super convenient pick up point.

We received another Hertz Presidents Circle upgrade from a mid size to a full size with a 2019 Ford Taurus Limited being our old school cop car ride of choice.

We drove the easier thirty minutes over to the Hanauma Bay Nature Conservancy.

Accessing Hanauma Bay:

We arrived to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on a Friday at 11:15 AM without a reservation. We were able to get parking on site ($3 USD), and able to get a walk in time to visit at 11:30 AM.  I took this to be the exception to the norm. I later learned that you could make reservations online for visiting.

The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve moved to a mandatory on line advanced reservation system starting in April 2021 with a maximum limit of 1,400 guests per day.

I would recommend making an advance reservation in order to guarantee your entrance to the site.

We paid the entry fee ($25 USD per person). It was a bit more than expected but it offered a full protected site with limited access, washroom access and a clean facility that was maintained to a world class standard.

We watched a nine minute orientation video prior to accessing the beach area. The video set out some basic rules surrounding protection of coral and keeping the area clean.

After watching the video, we headed down towards the beach.


Entering Hanauma Bay:

The Hanauma Bay is a protected bay that has really calm waters in comparison to other Hawaiian Shores. The bay has a natural orientation that is protective to all that are in it.

We descended into the Hanauma Bay down the gradual ramp that led down to the beach. The space was a welcoming location for beach goers.

We located a space to set up camp for the day. It was slightly warm place, with a little less wind that our other location thanks to the curve of the bay,

There was a no food and beverage at the beach level with all food at the top of the beach zone. We had packed our things from ABC stores for a picnic style. There was officially no alcohol permitted but they didn’t appear to closely enforce this despite lifeguards everywhere.

During our time at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve we went snorkelling twice. We had a little challenging visibility the first time.


On our second time, we had better luck spotting fish. There were a good variety of fish at this site with many different types and colours. It was nothing like the Maldives but better than what I would imagine you’d see on a snorkelling excursion to Molokai on Maui and much more variety in different types of fish that what we’ve seen snorkelling of Makena Beach in Maui.

Towards the end of our day, we were rather unceremoniously kicked out by a public address announcement at 3:15 PM. There was a last tram ride up the hill at 3:45 PM. Parking lot gates closed at 4 PM.

As among the last ones off the beach that evening, it was a pretty serene departure from the bay. It would be neat to be here during the off season in order to have the whole place by yourself.

We drove back to Waikiki with no traffic issues. We maximized our use of the car and visited the factory outlets and Costco later that night for supplies. After our tour around, we returned the car rental at Hertz at the after hours return.

It was well after dark before we returned to the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani with another great day in the Hawaiian Islands complete.

My Thoughts on the Day Trip Hanauma Bay:

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a special place on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. A visit to the nature preserve affords insight into one of Hawaii’s most protected eco systems. If you’re planning to visit make sure you make an advance reservation and arrive to the bay early; our time was cut a little short thanks to a mid day arrival.

If you have visited Hanauma Bay, have you returned for a second visit ?

2 Comments on “Snorkelling at Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, USA

  1. *Hanauma. Used to live in Hawaii so the misspelling is a bit grating. Excellent reports – I like your literary style. Came over here from Flyertalk to catch more of your Hawaii trip.


    • Thanks Stuart Rome for keeping us honest.

      I’m not sure how that got in there – at least it was consistent throughout the report (laughing). I’d like to be able to blame this on errant reporting from a map or Lonely Planet but it appears this was just me.

      We’ve fixed the error throughout the report.

      Thanks for reading.


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