Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, Oaha – Get There Early!

Deep blue water fades into a turquoise shade as it fills the seashell shaped cove.  Strands of coral carving its way through the shallow waters make Hanauma Bay a diving and snorkeling hotspot.

Hanauma Bay off the southeast side of Oahu is filled with hundreds of species of sea wildlife.  Surgeonfish, sailfin tangs, and parrot fish manuever through the coral, oblivious to life on the land above. One of the main attractions is the sea turtles that also make the bay their home.

Hanauma bay

Hanauma Bay

When you are in a place like Hawaii, snorkeling is a must and there a plenty of places to go. Hanauma Bay attracts tourists because they can catch glimpses of colorful fish in waist high water, also making it appealing to novice snorkelers.

Once a volcanic cone, Hanauma Bay is now a Nature Preserve, renamed in order to protects the sea life, including the coral and the beach.  In 1967, the bay was transformed from a beach park to a protected marine life conservation area. Most of the people that visit are tourists.

Get to Hanauma Bay Before Seven in the Morning

Hanauma Bay Sunrise

Hanauma Bay Sunrise

When the “doors” open at 7 a.m., the flood of visitors begin to line up, paying $7.50 to watch an educational video before hopping on a shuttle that takes them down to the beach.

Within just a couple hours, you are not only trying to dodge coral and sea turtles, but the mass of humans that fill the waters. Touristy spot most locals avoid. The key is to get there early – before the rush of people.

Sunrise Hanauma Bay

Sunrise Hanauma Bay

I know getting up at 5:30 in the morning in order to throw on a bathing suit, brush your teeth, and make the twenty-five minute drive from Waikiki may not be your idea of a vacation, but trust me, it was totally worth it.

If you get there before seven am, it can be a magical and peaceful place. Not only will you avoid the fee, but you can glimpse the sunrise as it comes up over the hills that surround the bay. At this time in the morning, the tourists are still sipping coffee at their hotel.

There was less than ten people there at 6:45 a.m. By 9:45, there will be hundreds.  Why not enjoy your time before the crowds?

The Abundant Sea Life Close to Shore

A green sea turtle photographed at Hanauma Bay...

Sea Turtle

I put on my mask and snorkel set on a mission to catch a glimpse of the sea turtles that hang out in these waters. Less than 20 yards off the shoreline, I was amazed at the large variety of fish. Large fish. Colorful fish. I have been snorkeling before, but most of the time, I had to get pretty far from the shore to see anything worth pausing to look at. I spent ten minutes just observing parrot fish peck away at coral.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

At first, I thought it was a large fish, or the dark coral that casts shadows under water. The turtle did not take form until it was only five feet away from me. I have never seen a turtle in the wild. I yelled to my fellow snorkelers, “Turtle!”  They swan over and made it in time to watch him (or her) glide through the water, completely unmoved by our prescence. Mission accomplished.

Before I stood up to walk towards the beach, another turtle appeared from the thick coral. Bonus! I was in about four feet of water.

That day, everyone in our group saw a turtle and a parrot fish, plus many other species of fish and coral.

At 9:00, we gathered our belongings and left the beach to head back to our hotel to have our coffee and breakfast.

6 Responses to Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, Oaha – Get There Early!

  1. Awesome place based from the picture. Traveling does makes the soul rejuvenated.

    IAC November 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm Reply
  2. Hi Julie,

    Hawaii is a MUST place to visit. I couldn’t go there during my six-month round-the-world trip but I really wish to go there in the future. On the other hand I have heard that it is quite expensive to stay there. Is it really? How did you find prices ? Do you have and idea about the average cost of living per day ?

    Thank you very much in advanced and thank you for sharing your experience with us.


    Lenia December 12, 2011 at 9:31 am Reply
  3. Definitly must to go there. From pictures place look very peaceful and quiet, desserted even. Great.

    Passagens Aereas December 30, 2011 at 1:24 am Reply
  4. Looks like a wonderful place to visit, too bad about all of the tourists though.

    Amy April 30, 2012 at 7:57 pm Reply
  5. This is a dream of whole my life to go there at list for 2 weeks

    Ross May 31, 2012 at 9:38 am Reply
  6. There’s no many people in this island ? I love the beach

    Tour Explora August 9, 2012 at 12:37 am Reply

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