Hanauma Bay. Beach in Oahu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay

Beach in Oahu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay Photo © atamericanthi

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Hanauma Bay

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Hanauma Bay - Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay - Hanauma Bay. Photo by Junichi Ishito
The ‘hana’ in Hanauma means “bay” and ‘uma’ either means “curve” or “hand wrestling” in the Hawaiian language.


Actually, the Hawaiian Islands are group of volcanoes that rose up over a hot spot. A hot spot is a portion of the Earth's surface that has volcanism over a period of time. Pacific plates had moved slowly northwes tbound over the hot spot and resulted in the formation of Hawaii.

The Hanauma Crater was formed around 32-thousand years ago when the Hawaiian volcanoes had continuous eruptions. The volcanic vents which created the Hanauma Crater also opened to the sea floor which eventually formed the now scenic and popular bay.

Hanauma Bay Hawaii - Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay Hawaii. Photo by Jimmy Smith


The bay used to be a recreational area of the Hawaiian royalties. King Kamehameha (Wikipedia Article) and Queen Kaʻahumanu (Wikipedia
	Article) used to have guests, hold events, and fish at the bay. However, the area was not permanently inhabited due to the absence of freshwater.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, the bay was fenced with barbed wires while bunkers were built around it.

Hanauma Bay used to have colorful reefs and healthy marine life. It was declared a Marine Protected Area by the State Division of Fish and Game around 1967. Visitors were instructed about how to enjoy the beach safely for both humans and natural life. In the 1980s however, more and more people came to the bay. There are days when beachgoers reach more than 10-thousand in a day. These crowds who had bad habits with throwing trash and leaving chemicals that may pose threat to the marine life, had indeed damaged the bay. Today, the then vibrant coral reefs are now visibly black.

Today, to ensure that Hanauma Bay would never be abused again, the tourists have to watch a short film about how to use the beach properly. The bay is also closed every Tuesday to allow the fish and other marine life to have a day to their own without the disturbances of swimmers and other guests.

Marine Life

Hanauma Bay has a rich marine life. It has Turtles, Triggerfish; Tangs, Surgeonfish; Moray Eels, Butterfly Fish; Parrotfish, Goatfish; Jellyfish, and Sea Urchins among the 400 species of abundant marine life present. Green Sea Turtles, which are endangered species, can be found in the bay as well.

Honu, or more popularly known as the ‘Green Sea Turtles’, were used as tools, food, and decorations by the early Hawaiians. Even later than that, people still take a lot of Honus, which pushed the state to protect the threatened species. One is not allowed to touch, scare, or get too close to a Honu. Doing so is punishable by law. You could have the luck of seeing these Green Sea Turtles from a distance during summer.

To clarify even better that this place is protected, its name was altered from Hanauma Beach Park to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Things to Do

Many people come to Hanauma Bay to swim, snorkel, or to simply spot Honus that would chill on the beach. Upon snorkeling, people could see for themselves the vast and rich marine life underwater. There are many colorful and beautiful fish as well as coral reefs. It is discouraged however to touch both the corals and the marine animals.

Besides swimming and doing other aquatic activities in Hanauma Bay, one can also do a little bit of hiking. The hike, in fact, is very scenic and rewarding. All along the way you will be met by gorgeous views. It is suggested that you do some hiking first up to the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail, and then go back down and finally cool yourself down on the beach. You can also extend your adventurous spirit a bit more and go all the way to the hidden rock bridge. Just always be careful. Whether you catch the sunset or sunrise up the mountain or down the bay, either one is just breathtaking.

How to Get Here

From Waikiki, one can either take a shuttle bus or take your own car up to the bay. One can also take the regular bus. The advantage of using public transportation is that you would not have to worry about parking. Often, the parking spaces are limited. You can take the bus and alight by the crater. The walk from crater to bay just takes about ten minutes, which is not really bad and also very picturesque.

Similar Attractions

Oahu has the Koʻolau Range (Wikipedia
	Article) on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Wherever you will go you will have both the view of the lush greens and the zesty blues. Other popular scenic bays in Oahu are Kahana Bay, Kaneohe Bay where you could see Mokoli’i, also known as the ‘China Man’s Hat’; Maunalua Bay, Pearl Harbor; Turtle Bay, and Waimea Bay where you can perform the iconic Hawaiian cliff dive.

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Author: kimn. Last updated: Mar 19, 2015

Pictures of Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay - Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay - Photo by amicicara

Hanauma Bay Beach - Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay Beach - Photo by Steve Tannock

Hawaii Trip May 2011 - Hanauma Bay
Hawaii Trip May 2011 - Hanauma Bay. Photo by Crouchy69

Hanauma Bay - Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay - Photo by Banzai Hiroaki

Hanauma Bay,Beach - Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay,Beach - Photo by Banzai Hiroaki


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