Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 1382 - Hanauma Bay

One of our Waikiki day trips was to go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay - view from the entrance
Want to go snorkeling while in Waikiki? Then you need to hit Hanauma Bay. It's only about a 20 minute drive north of Waikiki if you get a clear run.  If you have the time (and the patience, and don't mind if end up having to stand) you can spend around 45 minutes on the town bus with the locals for only $2 per person each way.  Alternatively you can book a tour bus, hire a car or grab a cab, all of which are quite a bit more that the $2 bus fare but quite a bit quicker and probably more comfortable.

It costs $7.50 on arrival as you are visiting a state reserve. Once you pay for entry into the "park" it's mandatory to watch a 15 minute educational video about the reef and about your responsibilities as a visitor. Then it's a five minute walk down a steep hill to the shoreline where the reef is literally right at the water's edge. What goes down must come back up again ... but don't fret ... there are little "trains" that can take your weary snorkeling legs back to the top of the hill at the end of the day.

Walking down the path into Hanauma Bay
There's no need to have your own snorkel set.  For $12 you can hire the snorkel, mask and fins once you get there.  You can also hire flotation vests if you're a bit nervous about the swim, and there is a canteen at the top of the hill for when you get peckish and thirsty.  Just as an added bonus there are a few mongooses (mongeese?) who are trailing the garbage bins looking for scraps.  They're not liked by the locals, but they sure kept us entertained.

My snorkel models Darby, Jess and Tahlia
I have to be honest, the snorkeling didn't impress me as much as I had hoped.  Having said that, I have only ever had two other snorkeling adventures - the Big Island of Hawaii, and the Great Barrier Reef.  Both expeditions are at the top of the snorkeling totem pole so I guess I may have been spoiled. The newcomers of the snorkeling world who are traveling with us LOVED their Hanauma Bay experience so I guess that means I'm just a bit picky.

Negotiating the reef at Hanauma Bay
The reef is right at the waters edge which had me in a bit of a quandary given we're not supposed to step on it.  The whole time I felt as though my bare tummy was precariously close to being ravaged by the coral as I floated past.  Once I got over that balancing act I was able to relax into it a little and enjoy the view.  The coral itself has no colour.  It's all grey/white rock with the occasional yellow coral type flower. Add to that the sheer number of people at the Bay at this time of year and the water gets a bit murky. The fish, on the other hand, are quite beautiful.  If you can get out past the crowds to some of the deeper areas between the coral mounds you'll come across wonderful schools of fish in yellow, reds, blues and rainbow.  If you're super lucky you may even get to see a decent sized sea turtle about half a metre in diameter.  Sensational!

Image Source
I wish the colours were this vibrant in real life!
It takes a good camera to get this quality of colour.
If you're planning on coming to Hawaii be sure to check it out. It's one of those "to dos" that you'll talk about for some time afterwards. Whether you love it or just kind of shrug your shoulders at the whole thing, Hanauma Bay is a popular and authentic piece of aloha.

Note: It's closed of a Tuesday.  Tuesday is a day of rest for the water, coral and fishies.  They say Wednesday is the best day to visit as it's given the water a chance to "settle down". 

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