Hanauma Bay

With its calm and protected turquoise waters, only a few minutes from the road for Honolulu, Hanauma Bay is the main snorkeling destination on the island of Oahu. Despite some drawbacks – among which are high entrance fees and large visitor numbers – the lagoon, nestling in an ancient volcano crater, is ideal for beginners, who can observe diverse underwater life in conditions of optimal safety.
How to get there?

Hanauma Bay is about 12 miles (20km) east of Waikiki. Take the Freeway H1 east, which later becomes the Kalanianaole Highway. The site is very well signposted from the main road. Try to arrive early, as parking places are limited ($1 per vehicle) and are very soon taken. It is also easy to get there by public transport. Rather than taking the shuttle service run by the Park, which is quite expensive (from $22 per person for a round-trip ticket), take the line 22 bus from Waikiki (, which costs $2.50 for a one-way ticket and will drop you off in front of the Park in around 30 minutes.

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere along the beach, but you should avoid the area across from the channel if you are a beginner, as the current can be quite strong. The information center abounds in tips for exploring the site (circuits, the different areas, descriptions of the species of fish and shellfish, etc.), so make the most if it.

Aerial view


The spot offers a number of areas to explore. While beginners will want to stay in the natural pools between the beach and the reef (↕3-7ft/1-2m), experienced snorkelers will prefer (if the sea conditions permit) to swim to the channel and explore the areas beyond the reef, where the waters are deeper (↕+20ft/+6m) and the seabed is of a better quality. This is where you have the best chance of seeing green sea turtles, but they are less easy to observe here than in a number of other spots in the archipelago.

In winter and when the sea is rough, the currents and waves can be strong in the channel (well indicated by buoys). Visibility, in fact, is not always ideal. Lifeguards supervise the spot during the site’s opening hours, and they will quickly issue a reminder over their megaphones if you fail to respect the safety rules.

Snorkeling Report Hanauma Bay Oahu Hawaii
Hanauma Bay

Under the water, you are sure to spot parrotfish, surgeonfish and triggerfish, and a very large number of equally colorful fish, some of which can only be found in Hawaii. The seabeds are rocky and have little coral, especially on the part inside the lagoon.

Restaurants & accommodation

The Park has a wide range of restaurants, but prices are high. You can take your own picnic.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
  • Maximum depth
    8ft (2.5m) in the inner bay, 30ft (9m) behind the barrier reef
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
    Usual precautions
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
    Very high
  • Access costs
    $7.50 pp. entrance fee
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, moderately expensive
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Hanauma Bay

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas
Yellow tang
Zebrasoma flavescens
Convict surgeonfish
Acanthurus triostegus
Achilles tang
Acanthurus achilles
Orange band surgeonfish
Acanthurus olivaceus
Sailfin tang
Zebrasoma veliferum
Whitespotted surgeonfish
Acanthurus guttatus
Pearl wrasse
Anampses cuvier
Threadfin butterflyfish
Chaetodon auriga
Fourspot butterflyfish
Chaetodon quadrimaculatus
Bluestripe butterflyfish
Chaetodon fremblii
Moorish idol
Zanclus cornutus
Manybar goatfish
Parupeneus multifasciatus
Bluefin trevally
Caranx melampygus
Reef triggerfish
Rhinecanthus rectangulus
Bluespotted grouper
Cephalopholis argus
Green birdmouth wrasse
Gomphosus caeruleus
Show all species
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?