On my third visit to Oahu, I was finally able to visit Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, a beautiful cove south of Waikiki. I was thwarted on previous visits by not getting an early enough start — the popular park fills up quickly and once it’s full, that’s that, you’re not getting in. I had all the odds in my favor this morning — an early start, the low season, and a tough year for tourism.At 830, I was in the water, chasing the wild humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the best named fish on the planet, though hey, you have to give props to the lauwiliwilinukunukuo’io’i, the long nosed butterfly fish.
Now, all my questions about Hanauma Bay have been answered:
1. Yes, you can rent snorkel gear down on the beach, no problem. They’ve got it, it’s decent enough gear, and I paid, uh, 13 dollars, I think, for my kit. It wasn’t crappy gear either, it was totally okay.
2. Yes, there are lockers down there, too. They’re at the snorkel shack. But renting your gear may solve that problem for you — they’ll take your rental car keys for a deposit. Handy. That was actually the one thing I was worried about — losing my keys — and they were in good hands.
3. Yes, you can totally go alone. If you stay on the beach side of the breakwater, there are lifeguards a plenty and probably, if you’re feeling insecure about your stuff, folks on the beach who will be happy to keep an eye out. I’m a confident swimmer, but I stayed fairly close in because I was alone. With a buddy, I’d have headed further out.
4. Yes, it’s worth going early, not just because of the crowds, but because the water was much calmer in the early morning. The surf started to rise around 930/10 am and I could hear it before I could feel it, oddly enough. It was kind of amazing to feel the shift in the water, a push towards the beach, a bubbly low roar, but early in the day, it was little more than a lapping swell. The fish didn’t seem to care.
5. No, there’s nothing to eat down on the beach. You can bring your own picnic, but if you want to buy food, you’ll have to go back up top.
6. No, I did not get sunburned! I wore a super lightweight long sleeved shirt when I was in the water and sunscreen when I was out. It was interesting to me that Hanauma Bay doesn’t have a no sunscreen rule like Kaleakakua Bay does — that stuff washes off in the water and isn’t good for the fish.
7. Yes, there are showers, changing rooms, restrooms, and water down on the beach.
It was, of course, awesome. There was some good fish spotting, I saw lots of parrotfish, convict tanks, one spectacular angel fish, a few lovely butterfly fish, and I chased the humuhumus around whenever I saw them. That’s one fine fish. Next time, I’ll go even earlier, perhaps with a breakfast type picnic. I packed it in around noon, with the surf up and the beach getting very crowded, it was time for lunch.
I went for sushi, of course.
Disclaimer: Travel and accommodation portions of my trip were sponsored by the Oahu Visitor’s Bureau in exchange for my blogging about my experiences in Hawaii.