Hanauma Bay itself is a dormant cone volcano crater that long ago, a portion of which the outer edge collapsed and fell into the ocean, thus forming today, what we know as Hanauma Bay, with a beautiful crescent beach on it’s shore side. Today it is one of the star natural attractions of Hawaii as it offers a beautiful protected semi-lunar shaped beach, for which it was named. (Hanauma means ‘Curved Bay’ in Hawaiian.) As it forms an arched beach of over 1,800 feet long of a soft white coral sand beach, which is a place millions of people have come to visit over the years including Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevens, Ernest Hemingway, and many others, who have described it for it’s beauty, sheltered swimming and snorkeling all year around. Today it is a state park managed by the City & County of Honolulu.
Preservation is strongly emphasized at Hanauma Bay since it went through a major restoration to re-establish its delicate eco-system in 1999 to 2002. So please, be sure to stop first at, and visit the recently opened Marine Education Center where you can watch a short theatre presentation and view the exhibits they now have available for you to learn about protecting the beach, bay, the fish and wildlife, it’s living Coral, and all of what Hanauma bay offers it’s visitors today.
The Hawaii of today, is very ecologically conscience of it’s environment and what we live in today with out exception, Hanauma today has been restored to it’s former glory and the people of Hawaii are proud of it, and want you to continue to enjoy that for many generations to come.
The waters are a clear azure at the edge to a full blue in the deeper waters allowing for snorkeling and free diving to depths of over 25 feet in many places beyond the protective reef. A number of beginners scuba diving classes are held here as well, this to acquaint divers in a safe environment of all the practices they all must learn for safe scuba diving.
The best time to go to the bay is in the early morning, especially if your in a rental car, as the parking lot fills up to capacity fairly quickly. (Never leave any thing of value in the car.) Otherwise, we would recommend taking the bus out there. However, if you bus it, consider leaving Hanauma bay early, like before 2:00 P.M. or you might have to wait your turn for more than one bus headed back. We have waited over an hour and a half for the return, as the returns can be very crowded on some of the busy days, as many parents will drop off the kids to swim there, knowing the kids can just catch the bus home later.
OCEAN WARNING! For your own safety DO NOT go in the water if the beach has signs posted with these warnings: “No Diving,” “Surge Area” or “Jellyfish.” The Jellyfish Normally float into shore while breeding and this happens for about 2 or 3 days every month. Secondly, and equally important, never swim where you don’t see locals or other people swimming–not surfing, swimming! If no one is swimming, please, for your own safety don’t go in the water. There are many unseen hazards in the water.
Types of Fish
Throughout the year seasonally, there are over 300 different types of fish are known to migrate in and out of the bay with well over 100 of other types remaining fairly stationary within the bay all year around. The bay is a nursery for many different types fish in it’s ever gentle waters, hence it is home to a glorious magnificent display of many fantastic incandescent tropical fish. Any time you come, if you spend over an hour in the water you will have been swimming with well over a thousand or more fish all of many different types all around you all within 10 feet or less. Of these many maybe any of a wide variety of different types of Tangs, Trumpetfish, Needle fish, Papio, Sunfish, then of special note are the vibrant multi-colored Parrot Fish that are sometimes seen chewing on the coral, and then there’s those vivaciously colorful Butterfly Fish. Now besides the fish, there’s crabs, octopus and occasionally several different types of ells, or then the occasional Sea Turtle, who are always looking for an easy meal of a Jellyfish or crab, and this can just be a few of the sights snorkeling, with many others to consider as well.
If by chance you do see any Jellyfish floating in the bay anywhere near you, please AVOID them in total, as their STING can be very painful and irritating which will last for several days. If you are stung, no matter how slight, be sure to see the nearest lifeguard immediately for FIRST AID treatment and then be sure to follow their directions for any follow-up you may need. All to often a Hawaiian Jellyfish sting can lead to complications you don’t want. Don’t let such a thing lead to upset or ruin of your experience here in Hawaii. Please seek proper treatment for your own good and well being.
Access to the Beach
Going down to the beach from the topside; there is a transport shuttle that goes up and down the craters edge back an forth to the beach, it is accommodating for wheelchairs of all types of both standard and power, and I strongly recommend you use it, as the road coming up has burnt out a number of power chair motor’s in past, even before the shuttle was available. The cost is ONLY $1 per passenger, and well worth it. Furthermore, if your thinking of going up it by hand in a wheelchair, then expect to zig-zag 90% of the hill going up for about 250 or so yards. Overall it is a very heart stimulating challenge reserved for a true athlete.
If you call ahead and make a reservation for those in wheelchairs, there are 2 beach wheelchairs available that you can transfer to, both with the large balloon tires available at NO CHARGE. These you can wheel right into the water, I have used them in past, and found them comfortable enough, however bring, sunglasses, 2 towels (at least), a light colored tee shirt and plenty of sun screen to avoid a severe sunburn, which you can get very easy at waters edge on a sunny day. Plus be sure to drink plenty of liquids so you don’t dehydrate.
As a third option, if you use Para-transit Transport in your city, state or country, know that Honolulu has a reciprocal agreement with all ADA Carriers Nation wide. The main provision is, that you register with the local office here by calling (808) 538-0033 You must go in and show you are currently eligible for ADA Para-transit services in another state or country and you will be approved here for three weeks use of the services here upon registering. Or you can also call them before you come, and be per-registered also. They are very accommodating here to all, especially tourists. That will offer you door to door transport anywhere on the island for $2 per trip for you and one other person as your escort, for each trip you take. However, you must schedule any and all of your trips at least 24 hours in advance with an address. Note also they are all shared rides, so know it is NOT like a direct taxi service. A trip can and often does take 30 minutes or MORE from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’.
Then as a fourth option you might wish to go on on of many package tours, as a number of them are offered by many different companies. Some, though not all, are equipped with ADA lifts on the vans or buses for wheelchairs. Be sure to check when you book! However, always check the details on what tours include, like swim-fins and snorkels. An admission is charged to get into the park but children 12 or under are free and no charge for any family with military ID (active or retired) or for residents with local state ID.
For tours to and from the bay, they offer pickup from a fixed point and drop-off at the same place. Prices generally start at $15 to $22. Then for some of the premium packages that includes pick-up and drop-off at your hotel, the price can range from $19 to $69 per person. Some packages will even provide you with an excellent, but small water proof camera included in the package.
- For reservations regarding Hanauma Bay please call (808) 768-3027 Or (808) 768-3003
- For the bus schedules and route information for anywhere on Oahu call 808-848-5555
- Review all accessible parks and their features: Honolulu Parks & Recreation