The Travel Channel’s 2013 Best Beach Awards named this the best beach in the world for snorkeling, and it’s conveniently located just 10 minutes south of Hale Nalo!
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of Hawaii’s most spectacular natural resources with a pristine marine ecosystem. This is not a beach park for sport, but a preserve dedicated to safeguarding the marine life within the bay as well as an educational facility for those visiting.
Parking is $1 per vehicle for the day. If the lot is full, the entrance at Kalanioleole Freeway is closed off. Admission is $7.50 per person for the day, and all people entering the preserve must go through an orientation. Admission is free for children under 12, and Hawaii residents with proof of residency (typically a license or state ID).
Once you settle on your own patch of sandy paradise, you can rent snorkeling gear (or borrow from the Hale Nalo beach-gear-stash) to visit with the marine life. All sorts of fish, including the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (the state’s fish) tend to crowd around you among the living coral. Periodically the honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle) will venture in, but it is advised that you not swim after them as they are a protected species and state law prohibits touching them. Just snap a picture and be happy they got within camera range! Be advised that currents and tides can be strong here, so always pay attention to park staff, signs and the lifeguards.
For a more “free form” snorkeling experience, you can visit the North Shore and check out Shark’s Cove, across from Pupukea, where terrific snorkeling can also be found. Tip: Enter only when it’s calm! Summers are best; if it’s at all rough, best to stay out as the cove has very some strong currents.
View Larger Map for Hanuama Bay