Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of Oahu’s most popular destinations for snorkeling. Located 10 miles east of Waikiki, the bay is home to more than 400 species of fish and marine life, including sea turtles and the humuhumunukunukuapua`a, the state fish.
The bay is a curved pool that formed out of a volcanic cone around 40,000 years ago. The name derives from the Hawaiian words “hana,” which means curved and “uma,” or bay.
Hawaiian royals and nobility, including King Kamehameha and Queen Ka’ahumanu, often brought guests to Hanauma Bay for fishing and entertainment. The bay was also used as a navigation point between Oahu and Molokai.
For a long time, the bay was privately owned by the Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop estate. It was later purchased by the city and county of Honolulu and opened to the public.
Initially only accessible by dirt roads, the first paved roads to get to Hanauma Bay were built in 1931. Later, bathroom facilities and showers were added, which led to overuse by the public. In 1967, Hanauma Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park.
Further protections to the bay were added in the 1990s to reduce the impact of visitors, and in 2002 a marine education center was built. Today, visitors are required by state law to watch a 9-minute video instructing them to not to disturb marine life or walk on coral.
The beauty of Hanauma Bay is recognized by residents and tourists alike. In addition, its pristine waters and white sand beaches have also attracted the attention of television producers and filmmakers. Portions of Blue Hawaii, Paradise, Hawaiian Style, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum P.I. were shot at the bay.
A few locations of Hanauma Bay have been deemed too dangerous for visitors. The Toilet Bowl, named because of the rise and fall of the waves, has been blocked off due to injuries reported there. Another area on the right tip of the bay, called Witches’ Brew, is also closed to the public due to nasty rip currents that be deadly in rough waters.
Today, Hanauma Bay is mainly a tourist destination. It attracts nearly 3,000 visitors per day, or 1 million tourists per year. But still today, Hawaii locals maintain their longtime tradition of respecting the land and sea. The bay is closed every Tuesday to give the marine life time to feed undisturbed.
Driving Directions to Recovery Law Center
Recovery Law Center in Honolulu is a short 20-minute drive from Hanauma Bay.
From the bay, take HI-71 West. In 6 miles, it will turn into I-H1 West.
Continue on I-H1 to Exit 24A.
Merge onto Wilder Avenue and continue for 1 mile.
Turn left onto Ke’eaumoku Street.
In 0.4 miles, turn right onto Young Street. Our offices will be on the right at 1260 Young St., Suite 228.