A trip to Hawaii is never complete without paying homage to the beaches as the name Hawaii is just synonymous with fun under the sun with the sea and sand, and a vacation spent on the island is just exactly that.
The tropical weather here is a plus point as it allows us to enjoy the sun and also sightseeing despite it being the winter season as the temperature during the day was just soothing enough for us to go out, albeit it was a little cooler than our usual tropical season back at home.
We had visited a few beaches, but Hanauma Bay is one of the highly recommended ones by the travel books we had that it topped our list of the must-visits when we were in O'ahu.
Touted as one of the top tourist attractions in Hawaii and on the island of O'ahu, Hanauma Bay is best known for its unique curve in the shape of a half-crescent which led to the sandy beach and the bay being hidden from direct exposure to the open sea.
A result of a series of volcanic activities in Honolulu, the Hanauma crater was created more than 32,000 years ago which led to the formation of this unique bay which attracted more than a million visitors a year, due to its natural coral reefs and marine species making their home here.
(Well, Hawaiian islands are made of volcanic chains anyway)
The popularity of the place and the surge in the number of visitors to the place brought life and activity to this part of the island which was initially inhabited due to the lack of fresh water here, amidst the limited evidence found to indicate human presence here. The place, however attracted the royal family to hold their recreational activities here in the past as well.
While it seemed like the place was finally seeing light with crowds of people flocking to enjoy the beauty of the bay and also the exotic marine life, there was also a rising threat to the marine ecosystem due to the lack of awareness among the public.
The problems posed to the marine park with the rise in the visitors and even commercial filming (a few movies and popular tv series were shot on location here too) led to drastic measures imposed by the state to protect the marine life and the natural surroundings of the bay which were affected with the incessant residue left behind by the avid beach lovers; from trampling on the delicate reefs to the trash left on the beach and even the overfeeding of the fish and marine life.
The natural state of the bay was endangered which called for immediate actions and one of the best way is through the form of education to raise awareness on the importance of the marine and park conservation among the public.
By the 1990s, effective measures were implemented to preserve the place which included the limiting of visitors to the park per day through the car park and also entrance fees imposed.
At the main entrance of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Park
(The admission fees, correct at the time of posting)
The car park system limits the visitors by turning away the incoming folks once the car park is fully occupied to ensure that the bay will not be overcrowded with tourists each day.
Queueing up behind the line of cars heading into the park
Visitors are also required to go through a short video sharing session on the rules and regulations to help conserve the bay upon entrance.
(Queueing up to enter the theater to watch the video. It was crowded despite it being a weekday and also off-peak season)
There is also a gallery/information centre promoting the marine life which can be found at the bay area to educate the visitors on the types/species which can be encountered by the visitors.
Visitors are to take a short hike down the slope to arrive at the beach located at the bottom, but we can catch a glimpse of the bay from the top (near the information gallery and the entrance) and also while walking down.
There is also the option of taking a ride on the buggy up and down from and towards the bay, but most would take that walk down and then enjoy the ride back up.
(After all, it is easier to walk down towards the bay and then after a swim, when energy levels/stamina are low, the buggy ride would be extremely inviting :-).
There is a fee to take the buggy ride; which is at USD$1.oo per trip.
The beautiful views of the preserved bay from the top, while I was walking down towards the sandy beach.
The natural coral reefs at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Park, Honolulu
Approaching the inviting beach
On the beach after a short 5-7 minutes walk (inclusive of pausing to take in the breathtaking view in between)
ALOHA to the sand and sea of Hanauma Bay!:-)
Crowds at the beach, all eager to take a dip into the water and to enjoy the reefs
Yes, definitely a very Hawaiian scene and the very image that comes to our minds for years when the word Hawaii comes up!
While hubby was enjoying his morning swim, I was relaxing and enjoying the stunning view of the beach and the sea and of course, people-watching:-P
According to hubby and a few other people who took the dip into the sea, the water was a little too cold to their liking and it is probably due to the cooler weather during the winter season.
Proper facilities are available on the beach as well; with the bathrooms/restrooms, diving equipment rental and shower areas.
The buggy parked near the slope to ferry the tourists back up after spending time at the beach
Hanauma Bay is truly a scenic place to enjoy the natural wonders of Hawaii, and I do hope that the place will continue in its conservation efforts to maintain the natural marine ecosystem for years into the future and may it still be as beautiful the next time I return, if not more beautiful!:-)
More pictures of Hanauma Bay...