There is no other way to describe this place other than magical. The sheer beauty of the reef and the life within and surrounding it is something that can only be experienced. As the shuttle pulled up into the parking lot at the top of the crater, I couldn’t wait to see what awaited us at the bottom. Nestled in a volcanic crater is the beautiful Hanauma Bay with a huge coral reef to be explored. The view was way too majestic to take the park trolley down to the beach, so we walked in order to take some pics of the views. I absolutely LOVE to snorkel. My first snorkeling experience was back in 2012 when I went to Mexico but that was deep sea snorkeling. But at Hanauma Bay, you walk right into it and can enjoy it at any comfortable depth. So if you can’t swim, hang loose! You don’t have to in order to see some live Discovery channel moments, but make sure you have a GoPro! If not, the park sells underwater disposable cameras.
As soon as I walked in to where the water reached at my knees, I initially saw little black and white striped fish all around my feet. I swam out a little further to chest deep water and began exploring the reef. I saw huge colorful fish, some bigger than my head. I got close ups of sea urchins, being extra careful not to step on any. I kind of wished that the hard-headed people standing on the reef against the park rules would get a nice little jam in the foot from one. I mean, when they know that standing on it can destroy it and still have no care in the world, then they need to feel since they can’t hear!
We met a fellow tourist from California who took the same shuttle as us. We all ended up snorkeling together, but he was a bit more experienced when it came to Pacific waters and the currents, so he went out a little further to where it was actually deep, but more sea life. Getting lost in the moment following a fish underwater with the GoPro, I didn’t notice that I swam out to the deep. When I came up and saw how far out I was, the panic began. Fortunately our newly made friend from California saw and yelled to remind me to swim parallel and don’t fight the current. It worked! In no time, I was back where I needed to be.
After all of my exploring, of course that salt gets that hunger gauge to a hundred, so we made our way back up the crater – via shuttle because I was NOT about to walk back up that bad boy (shout out to the folks that did) – and went to their little food spot which I thought would be a sandwich and some chips. No honey! I had teriyaki chicken with coconut rice and salad while my mom had her kalua pork and cabbage. To have some real Hawaiian comfort food after being in that saltwater for two hours, I literally felt like I was in a form of straight heaven.
Now everyone says Hawaii is expensive, and it is if you don’t do your research. As opposed to buying an excursion package, put it together yourself. We used the vendor Hanauma Bay Snorkel Tours which provided roundtrip shuttle service from the hotel and the snorkel gear for $25.00 per person. Shout out to the driver named Mike. He was super funny! He gets you all amped up before you get there and also gives some Hawaiian history on the way. To get into Hanauma Bay State Park is $7.50 per person, and I spent around $15.00 on food.
If ever on the island of Oahu, this place is a must do. And if I ever go back, I MUST do it again! Check out the clip below!