Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay, Oahu

Ever fancied swimming amidst some of the world's rarest marine wildlife? It can't get much better than at Hanauma Bay, located on Oahu's southeastern shore near Hawaii Kai. Named America's best beach in 2004, Hanauma Bay (view panorama) is a longtime favorite among snorkelers and marine enthusiasts. It is home to over 450 kinds of tropical fish, many of which can only be found in Hawaii. Here you can observe marine life up close, including the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, the Hawaiian state fish. Feeding, chasing or touching the fish and turtles is not allowed, but you can swim alongside them and take pictures. You can rent snorkeling gear from the nearby shops, and lifeguards are more than willing to assist beginners.

Although often called a beach park, Hanauma Bay is actually a nature preserve established to protect the delicate ecosystems in the bay. Visitors have to watch a short educational video about the bay's history and wildlife before entering the beach. A steep, but paved road leads down to it. If you don't feel like walking or have a physical disability, there's a shuttle bus that takes people to the beach (a nominal fee applies).

If you forgot to bring your own food, there's a concession stand at the entrance of the bay. There's also a gift shop and shower facilities. Non-residents of the state of Hawaii have to pay an admission fee of $25 to enter Hanauma Bay. This fee is waved for Hawaii residents, active military and children under 13. There is a parking fee ($3 per vehicle for non-residents and $1 per vehicle for Hawaii residents). The beach opens at 6:45 a.m. every day, except Mondays and Tuesdays when it is closed. If you are planning to visit Hanauma Bay, it is recommended to reserve your tickets in advance. The online reservation system can be accessed at https://pros8.hnl.info/

Only a limited amount of walk-in or drive-in tickets without an online reservation is available. Hawaii residents may access Hanauma Bay without a reservation from 6:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Residents arriving after 9:00 a.m. need a reservation or walk-in ticket. (Hanauma Bay isn't safely accessible on foot, and the city bus service to Hanuama Bay has been permanently discontinued).

Special Note: Hanauma Bay is the top site on Oahu for drownings. Although the bay is protected by a reef and the nearshore waters are usually calm, Hanauma Bay is considered one of the deadliest beaches in Hawaii. According to the State Department of Health, 15 people died here between 2009 and 2014. A total of 47 people have drowned at Oahu's most popular snorkeling spot since 1995. Keep this in mind when planning a trip to Hanauma Bay. Always go snorkeling together with a buddy and stay together at all times. If you are not an experienced open ocean swimmer, stay close to the shore and don't swim out of the channel at Hanauma Bay (the channel that leads into deeper waters behind the reef).

Hanauma Bay Overview

  • Hanauma Bay has a large beeach park (view panorama)
  • Hanauma Bay is the most popular snorkeling destination on Oahu
  • View plenty of colorful fish as you snorkel over a coral reef
  • Bay can be busy during summer and winter tourist peak seasons
  • Only beach on Oahu that has an admission fee: $25 (fee is waived for Hawaii residents, active military and kids under 13)
  • Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays

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Reviews and Comments:
Highlight of a great week business conference
Phil Moore, Fri Jun 12, 2020
Hanauma Bay has many fond memories for me as I was born and raised in Hawaii and mostly on Oahu. It is a beautiful and sacred place for me and my family!
Irene Yanamura McEnerney, Sat Sep 24, 2016
BEAUTIFUL! I was there numerous times while stationed on Oahu. My daughter (now 31) and I use to go there and enjoy the beautiful water. Fish would come up to you. I want to take a trip back with my daughter so she can see where she spent her first 2 years.
Julie Sanders, Thu Jul 17, 2014
Fantastic place and not too crowded (Nov 2012). As UK visitors we assumed public transport was close to non-existent but a bus came here from Waikiki and we also got to Manoa Falls, Diamond Head etc by bus.
StephenLJ, Fri Mar 15, 2013
Astoundingly, fabulously breathtaking! We drove & explored all over Oahu, N, S, E & W, & this was probably the most gorgeous & incredible experience. A truly amazing place -- could have spent days here snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing, photography, hiking & picnicking. Great facilities: bathrooms, showers, rentals & handicapped accessibility. Current fees as of 4/2012: $3 parking, $7.50 entrance fee for those 12 up (free to residents, military, & under 12 yrs), $0.75 shuttle going down to beach (wheelchair accessibility), & $1.00 shuttle back up. It's like swimming/snorkeling in an aquarium with 100's of fish. An unforgettable must-see adventure. Buy the $5.50 laminated reef fish ID card BEFORE you swim or snorkel. Wish we had done that on our first visit.
Gator84 , Wed May 02, 2012
Truly a beautiful place. Shocking that even after watching the video regarding the coral that people still stand on it.. Lovely place I hope it's always protected
Kellie, Mon Jun 20, 2011
I really enjoyed snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. It was my first trip. I was amazed at how many colorful fish there are.
Treya, Feb 25, 2009