Like a secret oasis, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, is a stunning beach nestled inside a volcano crater! One of Hawaii's most desired snorkeling destinations, is now open!! This is the first time the bay has seen a reprieve from visitors for over 9 months and the reefs are thriving. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Hanauma Bay, now is the perfect time to experience this snorkeling paradise on your next vacation. Here is everything you need to know about the new pilot reopening program and our top recommendations to help make your next visit to this wondrous bay easy and memorable!
1. Make Reservations In Advance
Hanauma Bay’s is open from 6:45am-4pm, with no entry allowed after 2pm an closed Mondays/Tuesdays. Tickets are $12 for adults; residents and kids under 12 are free!
We highly recommend using the online reservations system instead of walking in. Tickets can fill up so reserving in advance will guarantee you a spot. Reservations can be made upto 48 hours in advance and close midnight the day before.
The nature preserve is limiting visitors to only 120 guests per hour with a max of 720/day (usually the have over 3,000 guests per day!) so getting there earlier will help ensure you have ample time in the bay. All facilities are now open including showers, bathrooms, rental equipment, snack bar and the gift shop. You can also rent wetsuits and floatation vests.
2. Hold Onto Your Receipt
There is a required safety video to enter the preserve, once you've watched it you will have all day in/out access to the bay. Hold onto your receipt and you can bypass this video each time you re-enter that day.
The staff have done a nice job with safety precautions inside the theater including reducing the number of guests inside the theater to allow room for social distancing, requiring masks, leaving the theater doors open and sanitizing hand rails in between each show.
3. Bring Your Snorkel Gear
The reef at Hanauma Bay has been protected since 1967 and is one of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii! The onsite rental equipment shop is open, but we recommend bringing your own snorkel gear from home or stop by walmart or a local dive shop for a set. Visit the information desk located in the middle of the beach to look at the names and pictures of the fish you'll see, the kids had so much fun comparing notes.
For your safety there are two lifeguard towers on both ends of the beach. When you swim out, start on the sand in the middle, then turn right or left into reef on either side. You’ll see large parrotfish (my favorite), rainbow colored Christmas wrasse (the kid's favorite), triggerfish, butterflyfish, convict tangs, beautiful corals and sometimes even turtles! For our best safety tips on how to snorkel, click here!
4. Pack Light
It's a long steep walk down to the beach so you don't want to be hauling too much stuff back up the hill at the end of the day (I know we've all been there). The preserve also offers frequently run paid trams to guests.
We found the best option was to pack an individual backpack for each person to carry themselves. The kids carried a towel, snorkel, fins, snacks and water. We also brought an umbrella for shade, camera/phone & of course reef-safe sunscreen. We wore comfortable sandals, swimwear, cover-ups & sunglasses. Luckily you really don't need much to enjoy the beach!
We hope these tips will help make your first vacation since Covid-19 an easy and magical one! We wish you a happy and safe holiday in Hawaii at this once in a lifetime beach!
Aloha and happy travels,