On our recent trip to Oahu, B and I went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been snorkeling! Granted, I have not been to a ton of snorkel places. But, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay was gorgeous! If you are ever vacationing on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, this is a MUST DO!
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SNORKELING IN HANAUMA BAY, OAHU
A couple of tips before heading out to snorkel in Hanauma Bay:
- It is a protected reef/nature preserve, therefore, there is an admission fee.
- You will need to watch a short video before they allow you to enter.
- Parking fills up fast, so get there early!
- Getting there early gives you the most calm, clear water!
Check out this post on how we saved money on our Hawaiian Airlines tickets to get to Hawaii! I will only ever fly Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii because of the fantastic customer service they have! And a bonus: free meals!
Hanauma Bay is about 30 away from Waikiki. B and I stayed on the North Shore at Turtle Bay Resort, so it was much further for us. I’ll have a post soon about how we liked staying at the Turtle Bay Resort much better than in Waikiki! We were coming to Oahu to celebrate becoming debt free! Read all about it in this post!
We drove down in the morning, which took about an hour due to traffic. Arriving at 8am, I was worried there would not be parking left. However, since we went on a weekday during the month of May, there were plenty of parking spaces. I would definitely suggest going on an “off” day instead of a “peak” day.
Parking costs $1 if you choose to take your own car. There is an option to take a shuttle from Waikiki which includes snorkel equipment. If you are staying closer to the bay, this might be a great option! However, B and I were unable to take advantage of this because we did not stay close.
Admission and Rentals
Hanauma Bay is closed every Tuesday! It gives the animals and reef time to rest in between thousands of people being there every day. So don’t try to get in on a Tuesday. But, every other day, it opens at 6am. Price of admission is $7.50 per person. Check their website for discounts and who is able to get in for free! Like I mentioned earlier, you must watch a short video on the reef and how to act while you are there. It was very informative and did not take up too much time.
B and I did end up renting snorkeling equipment while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. Our hotel included snorkel rentals, but the shack didn’t open until 8am. I was NOT going to risk getting to Hanauma Bay late and miss out on a parking spot. The rentals were nice but expensive. It got the job done, though, that’s for sure. All in all, the price was completely worth it for the experience we were able to have! If you want to bring your own snorkel equipment to Hawaii with you, check out this snorkel gear. It’s a great brand and we loved using it on our last trip to Maui.
Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
B and I were at the bay from 8am until about 3pm. The best snorkeling we had was the first two hours we were in the water! It was extremely clear and calm water. The fish were really active and feeding everywhere! Even though we did not swim with turtles like I wanted, we saw so many colorful and amazing fish!
One funny thing we noticed while relaxing on the beach/grass was the ferrets! They are everywhere and will definitely try to steal your food. If you get lunch, do not leave it out in bags. They will drag it away from your towel and eat it. Ferrets are fearless little creatures! Here is a picture of a cute one next to us that we watched!
While snorkeling, we attempted to swim out past the buoys that are in the middle of the bay. The rental equipment staff told us that strong swimmers are able to go through the current and see a lot of crazy things in deeper water! I am a very strong swimmer, but B is not as strong. I was able to swim out there, but I got very worried about losing B to the ocean! Therefore, we decided to turn back because it was making us nervous. I’m sure there are great things to see out there, but not for us. If you want to risk it, just make sure you do not go alone and are a strong swimmer!
It was still fantastic snorkeling in the places we explored! And that’s the key! Do whatever you are comfortable with when in the ocean. A good rule to follow while snorkeling and swimming in this area is, “When in doubt, don’t go out!”
How I Took Underwater Pictures!
About a year before this trip, I bought a GoPro in hopes of using it for snorkeling! I had used a different, cheap underwater camera on our first trip to Maui and was disappointed with the quality of my turtle pictures! So, once we got home from that trip, I bought a GoPro Hero 5 Black! I practiced using it on basically all of our trips. From the tall trees in Sequoia to the canyons of Yosemite, I practiced to get the best pictures. Once we embarked on our trip to Oahu, I knew the time had come! I was STOKED!
The reason I absolutely LOVE my GoPro is because it is waterproof without adding extra housing, it comes with great accessories, and it’s so tiny and portable! My GoPro model is totally waterproof and I don’t have to add extra bulk on the outside to make it that way! There are only two accessories I am extremely glad I bought before our trip. The Handler Floating Grip was one, so I could wrap the camera around my wrist and not worry about losing it. Knowing if I dropped my GoPro it would float was extremely comforting to me! The second accessory is the blue water snorkel filter. It changes the color of your pictures to what your eyes are actually seeing. So instead of getting murky and dark photos, you get the bright, blue, colorful photos that you see on this post.
The GoPro Hero 5 Black is without doubt, the best purchase I made for snorkeling in Hawaii! I can’t tell you how happy I am that I bought it. The great thing is, I use for way more than just snorkeling!
This bay is very protected and has very little waves most of the time. However, if you are ever uncomfortable while out in the ocean, don’t panic. Ask for help or start swimming toward the shore. There were a couple of times during the middle of the day where the waves almost pushed me into the coral reef. Because B and I were tired and nervous, we decided that we were done for the day. And that’s okay! We aren’t super athletic or adventurous, so we know when we are pushing our limits.
These pictures were so clear because of the amazing calm waters! The morning was the best time to go out with the clearest waters. Look at these fish that swam right up next to us!
This bay is a great place for anyone: families, little ones and the very adventurous. It is a great half day trip to do with the kids or even a whole day affair if you want it to be. The entrance is rocky in some places and sandy in others, so enter where you are comfortable.
In the afternoon, the water got more rough and murky. There were a TON more people wanting to be in the water. If you are wanting to avoid the crowds and snorkel in the best water, be in the water before noon. If you can’t, I would still recommend snorkeling in Hanauma Bay due to the amount of amazing fish we saw! Enjoy the pictures!
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