Located on the southeast coast of Oahu, only 16km (10 mi) east of Waikiki, Hanauma Bay is one of Hawaii’s most popular natural attractions. Thought to be about 35,000 years old, the bay itself is composed of the floor of a volcanic crater that was exposed to the ocean when its exterior wall collapsed. It was designated a marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967.
Hanauma Bay has been subject to a decade-long preservation and protection overhaul.The bay is now a government-protected Marine Life Conservation District, strictly regulated by the city and county of Honolulu. A limited number of visitors are now allowed entrance each day, after having watched a 12 minute documentary about how to respect the area.
The sandy beach leads to several hiking trails that run along the ridge and the coastline, culminating in breathtaking lookouts. On days of good visibility, travelers can view the Molokai and Lanai islands across the water, and in the winter and early spring months, breaching humpback whales can be seen from shore.
Hanauma Bay is protected from strong currents and waves, making it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling. Visitors can enjoy gliding amongst tangs, butterfly fish, surgeonfish and more. As well as snorkelling, visitors can also enjoy swimming, sunbathing and picnicking. Facilities include restrooms, showers, phones, picnic areas, education center, snorkel gear rentals, and locker rentals.
The bay is routinely closed on Tuesdays to allow fish one day of uninterrupted feeding per week.