Hanauma Bay Is the Best Snorkelling Experience in Oahu. Here Are Some Essential Things to Know Before Going to Hanauma Bay to Ensure It Will Be An Awesome Day Out for The Family.
Upon researching what to do in Oahu with kids, Hanauma Bay constantly came up as a must do activity in Hawaii. So of course, we had to put it on our list and boy, are we glad we did. Hanauma Bay snorkelling became one of our top favourite things to do in Oahu and as our first family snorkelling experience together, we couldn’t have picked a better spot. The view from the top is simply stunning, the water is crystal clear despite so many people in the bay and the marine life and coral reef are so beautiful. But, there are a few essential things to know before going to Hanauma Bay to ensure that you have an incredible experience.
USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS
- #01 – HOW TO GET TO HANAUMA BAY
- #02 – HANAUMA BAY HOURS
- #03 – TICKETS FOR HANAUMA BAY
- #04 – HOW TO GET DOWN TO HANAUMA BAY
- #05 – CAN I BUY FOOD & DRINKS AT HANAUMA BAY?
- #06 – SNORKEL HIRE AT HANAUMA BAY
- #07 – LOCKERS AT HANAUMA BAY
- #08 – REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN IN HAWAII
- #09 – DO I NEED REEF SHOES IN HANAUMA BAY?
- #10 – DO I NEED TO BE A GOOD SWIMMER?
- #11 – MARINE LIFE AND CORAL REEF
- #12 – LITTER ETIQUETTE
- #13 – BRING YOUR GO PRO
- #14 – WHAT TO PACK FOR HANAUMA BAY
- #15 – PRAM AND WHEELCHAIR ACCESS
- BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES
- BONUS TIP #2 – WHERE TO STAY IN OAHU
#01 – HOW TO GET TO HANAUMA BAY
How to Get to Hanauma Bay by Car
Hanauma Bay is an easy drive from Honolulu. Take the H1 Freeway out of Waikiki until it becomes the Kalanianaole Highway. Drive for about 10 miles and you’ll see the entrance to Hanauma Bay on the top of the hill just past the city of Hawaii Kai.
The car park is fairly big however it still fills out very quickly. When we drove past it at 08.30am on a Saturday, the car park was already full. When the car park is full, you can’t even enter the space to drive around until you find a spot. You actually have to turn around and leave. When we arrived around noon on a weekday however, the parking lot was open albeit looking rather full. The cost of parking is only USD$1.00.
How to Get to Hanauma Bay by Uber/Taxi
The costs from Waikiki is approximately USD$40.00 each way. Advantage is you get there quickly and you don’t have to worry about parking.
How to Get to Hanauma Bay by Public Transport
For USD$5.50 per adult and USD$2.75 per child, you can get a full day ticket to catch the bus. Route #22 will get you directly to Hanauma Bay. Although it stops in the middle of Kalakaua Avenue, I don’t suggest you catch it from there because by that time, the bus was already full and its very squashed stand up room only. And that makes for a very long journey especially for the kids.
We caught the bus one stop back on Kalakaua Avenue, opposite Olohana Street. This is the first stop of this route. We got there 30 minutes early (only because we were disorganised) but it turned out to be a fruitful exercise as we got on the bus first and there was plenty of seats. At 5 minutes to the departure time, there was a very long queue and the bus was already full with standing room only. So get there early!
How to Get to Hanauma Bay by Shuttle Bus
If you don’t wish to have the hassle of catching the bus there is a shuttle that leaves Waikiki daily. The cost is USD$25.00 which includes a shuttle pick up and drop off and the hire of fins, masks and snorkels and you can book online. The only disadvantage is that you are limited in the amount of time of 3.5 hours at the bay as the times are fixed.
Shuttle times are as follows for pick up from Waikiki and the return time from Hanauma Bay:
- 6:00am to 9:30am
- 7:15am to 11:45am
- 8:45am to 1:15pm
- 10:15am to 2:45pm
#02 – HANAUMA BAY HOURS
Hanauma Bay is open from 06.00am to 06.00pm.
Tuesday. Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesday! We very nearly made that mistake! Phew.
It is also closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
#03 – TICKETS FOR HANAUMA BAY
The entry into the state park is USD$7.50 per adult and children 12 and under are free. Before you are permitted into down on the bay, you must watch a short video about Hanauma Bay and as a visitor what we are permitted and not permitted to do.
The theatre times are allocated so when you buy your park entrance fee, you are presented with a ticket with a time. You have to make your way to the theatre at the appointed time. This way it regulates the number of people moving down to the bay at any given time and so that everyone can fit in the theatre.
If you intend on retuning to Hanauma Bay within the year, you can sign your name on a list at the information booth, so you don’t have to watch the video again.
#04 – HOW TO GET DOWN TO HANAUMA BAY
After watching the video, you will be directed to exit on the left. From here you will be able to make your way down to the bay. You have 2 options.
Walk Down to Hanauma Bay
Its easy enough to do so unless you’re lugging a whole bunch of stuff and you have young kids. Also, this is the best spot to take a picture of the bay.
Take the Tram to Hanuama Bay
There is a which can transport you to and from the bay. It costs USD$1.25 per person down and USD$1.25 per person up. We took the tram up as that was way too steep a walk for us and well, we were lazy! Make sure you have cash though because that’s the only payment option available.
#05 – CAN I BUY FOOD & DRINKS AT HANAUMA BAY?
There is only one snack outlet in Hanauma Bay so if you intend on getting some hot food, snacks or drinks, please do so BEFORE you get your entry tickets as you need to be at the theatre at the allotted time. Also, the snack outlet is near the entry and is nowhere close to the bay so if you’re suddenly hungry it’s a very long and steep walk back up to get something to eat.
You can of course bring your own food and drinks.
#06 – SNORKEL HIRE AT HANAUMA BAY
You can hire snorkels sets down at the bay. A deposit of some kind is required of which we gave them our Driver’s License. Children’s sizes are available at the same price as adults. Prices of the snorkel hire at Hanauma Bay is as follows:
- Standard snorkel set: USD$20.00
- Premium snorkel set: USD$40.00
- Prescription Mask: For the nearsighted with strengths measuring from -2 to -8 and includes your snorkel – add USD$3.00 for the snorkel set.
Quick Tip #1 – Beginner Snorkelers
Hannah had never been snorkelling before so we practised in the pool at home for a few weeks. Using it for the first time in open water with currents is not a good idea.
Quick Tip #2 – How to Put Fins on In the Water
As you’re putting the fins on in shallow water, it is awkward to walk in. As you put it on, walk out into the water backwards so you’re not tripping over on your own feet.
Quick Tip #3 – How to Save Money on Snorkel Set
If you intend on snorkelling during your holiday, rent a snorkel set for a week from any of the rental places on Oahu. It’ll save you a ton of money.
#07 – LOCKERS AT HANAUMA BAY
Lockers are available for you to you if you wish.
- Small locker: Enough to fit keys, phone and wallet. USD$8.00
- Large locker: Big enough to fit a backpack. USD$10.00
#08 – REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN IN HAWAII
May 2018, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to pass legislation banning sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which destroy coral reefs. Use a water-resistant as it washes off your body when swimming and enters the marine environment. You are also encouraged to use creams instead of sprays as the spray also ends up on the sand which at high tide gets washed out into the ocean resulting in additional contamination.
As we visited in July 2018, we were prepared to buy the proper sunscreen in Hawaii. However, all stores selling sunscreen still had all the spray versions and the normal sunscreens we are used to using. At Hanauma Bay, no one was regulating sunscreen use. So at this stage, it would seem it is a slow transition to outright bans. To assist with the environment however, we did purchase the recommended Hawaiian Sol SPF 50+.
#09 – DO I NEED REEF SHOES IN HANAUMA BAY?
Reef shoes are not required as you’re not allowed to touch let alone walk on the reef anyway. And the bay is sandy and there are no rocks to worry about.
#10 – DO I NEED TO BE A GOOD SWIMMER?
Unbeknownst to most, the bay is subjected to strong currents and rips. Unlike Waimea Bay where the water is calm and resembles a huge swimming pool, Hanauma Bay isn’t. There are plenty of signs warning beach goers that if you’re not a good swimmer, don’t venture into the water snorkelling. When we were further out, the currents were pretty strong, and we were swept around a fair bit.
At around 3pm, we were provided with a warning that the tides were coming in and to be aware that water levels were rising and to get out of the water if you weren’t a strong swimmer. A reminder again that flotation devices are not available for rent.
#11 – MARINE LIFE AND CORAL REEF
You are not permitted by law to touch, walk or mistreat any of the coral reef or animals in the water. This is a protected marine park, and everyone is responsible for the conservation of this area.
#12 – LITTER ETIQUETTE
Please take all rubbish with you before leave the park.
#13 – BRING YOUR GO PRO
If you have a Go Pro, this is the best time to use it. We managed to get some wonderful footage of our snorkelling experience. The water was so clear despite the currents washing over us all the time. I saw a lot of people taking their smartphones in waterproof housings but I’m not sure how well that worked. Andrew loves swimming to the bottom of the ocean so that wouldn’t have worked for us!Heading to Hanauma Bay for some snorkelling fun? Be sure to check out 15 Essential Things to Know Before Going to Hanauma Bay. #oahusnorkeling #hanaumabay #hawaiicoralreef Click To Tweet
#14 – WHAT TO PACK FOR HANAUMA BAY
Pack the usual things you would bring to a beach. Shaded areas are few and far between so slip slop slap! A reminder that you do need to walk down a fairly steep walkway so probably best not to overdo it. And if you’re going to be snorkelling the whole time like we did, you may not need some of the normal things you bring to a beach e.g. beach chairs.
#15 – PRAM AND WHEELCHAIR ACCESS
Hanauma Bay is accessible by wheelchair and prams. You can opt to take the tram service between the upper and lower levels which has a dedicated space for wheelchairs and prams.
Beach wheel chairs are available for free. The volunteers at Hanauma Bay will be able to get it for you.
And there you have it! All 15 essential things you need to know before going to Hanauma Bay. Follow our tips and I can assure you and your family will have a hassle-free experience. We would go back in a heartbeat and we highly recommend this be a top thing to do in Oahu with kids!
BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES
BONUS TIP #2 – WHERE TO STAY IN OAHU
Oceanfront Resort: Outrigger Waikiki Beach
Located directly on Waikiki Beach, this is one of Oahu’s favourite resort. It also features ocean front restaurants and pool which puts you and your family right in the midst of all the Waikiki action. Free child-friendly Hawaiian cultural activities are offered daily and may include fresh flower lei-making or ukulele lessons. Should you be renting a car the hotel offers valet parking whilst they can also arrange for your airport transfers. The Outrigger Waikiki Beach has so much to offer, you may not even need to leave but with so many things to do in Oahu with kids, we certainly hope you’ll explore the island!
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
Resort in the North Shore: Turtle Bay Resort
If you’re thinking of staying away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, you might like to consider staying in the North Shore. The Turtle Bay Resort is a world class golf resort suitable for families and is only a 5-minute walk from the beach. All their rooms offer ocean views and they have rooms with 2 queen beds so perfect for families of four. Guests are also privy to the resort’s private beach area which is perfect for those wanting a quieter space for the kids. They have a wellness center, access to a plethora of activities for kids including horse riding, wind surfing and fishing as well as ample parking for those renting a car. If you have enough time you might even want to split your holiday between the north and the south.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
Apartment – Ilikai Condo Rental
Family Globetrotters recently stayed at the Ilikai and loved it! We stayed on the 19th floor and had beautiful views of the marina with the lagoon and Waikiki beach to the left. Waikiki Beach is only a couple of minutes’ walk from the apartment and literally half the price of the central beach front hotels on Waikiki. It is also close to the lagoon for those who have babies. Located next to the Hilton, we could see the Friday night fireworks whilst it is also of close proximity to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre. We always prefer to stay in apartments with a fully equipped kitchen and a lounge space for the family. The balcony is a good size from which we had breakfast every day.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
Mid-Priced Hotel – Pagoda Hotel
Finding cheap accommodation in Honolulu is not an easy task. The Pagoda Hotel in downtown Honolulu is a 2-star property and does not have beach front. It is however comfortable and accessible Oahu’s premiere shopping and local dining district. The hotel offers rooms with 2 double beds so a good option for families without having to pay for a second room. They also have a renovated pool & sun deck for lounging.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here
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