Aloha, beachgoers! Have you ever been at a loss as to what beach might be the best for snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming and homework? Well, neither have I, actually, but on the off chance someone else out there has, have I got the beach for you! Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and Beach Park, the most popular snorkeling destination on the island of Oahu, sports a beautiful life-filled coral reef, a lovely and well kept sandy beach, and a lifeguard on duty during all of it’s opening hours. Also, if you happen to be a Hawaii resident, a University of Hawaii student, or under 13 years of age, your visit to the park will be free of charge (everyone else will be charged a fee. Last I checked, it was $7.50, but it changes from time to time, and if you’re worried about it, it wouldn’t hurt to give the park a call at 808-396-4229). On my most recent visit to Hanauma Bay, I personally snorkeled, swam, shade-bathed (I don’t especially like getting crispy in the sun, as you probably guessed from the above photo!), and got a great deal of homework done. While snorkeling, I spotted urchins, humuhumunukunukuapua’a (the Hawaii state fish), coral, and any number of other interesting and colorful things I couldn’t readily identify. Needless to say, it was a fun way to spend a day!
Hanauma Bay is conveniently located near the city of Honolulu (it’s only about ten miles east of Waikiki), and you can easily get there by taking advantage of the local bus system. What more could you ask for?
Apparently, you could also ask for hiking and whale watching. According to aloha-hawaii.com, “believed to be 35,000 years old, the bay itself is actually the floor of a volcanic crater that opened up to the ocean when its exterior wall collapsed. Declared a marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967, Hanauma Bay snorkeling (“Hanauma” literally means “curved bay”) is sheltered from strong currents and waves, making it an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. A large sandy beach is flanked by several hiking trails that lead to breathtaking lookouts. On clear days, you can see the islands of Molokai and Lanai across the channel, and during the winter and early spring months, breaching humpback whales can be spotted from shore.” The history, beach, and snorkeling I knew about, but the hiking and the whale watching are both news to me! I guess I’ll have to go back and visit sometime, though I have since graduated grad-school and will no longer be able to get in free of charge.
Mahalo, and to all the beachgoers who can’t afford to leave their homework behind on their desks, may it not ruin your day on the sand and in the water!