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Visiting Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay is both a Nature Preserve and a Marine Life Conservation District. These provisions help the Hawaiian government protect the natural wildlife and natural area. Even though Hanauma Bay and the surrounding nature preserve are popular, the Hawaiian government has taken measures to limit accessibility. This means that you need to plan your visit to the bay carefully.
The beach at Hanauma Bay can be crowded during the morning hours. If you are after a more secluded visit, try visiting in the mid-afternoon. During your stay you can also take a short tram ride (for a small fee) up to the rim of the crater to view the entire bay. This is a great activity for in between snorkeling sessions. There are also many hiking trails along the ridge and the coastline that are perfect to get a better view of the bay.
Getting to Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay is located within driving distance from Waikiki. You can drive to the bay in your own car, or take one of many guided tours on a shuttle bus. There is a parking lot at the rim of the crater for visitors. The only downside to driving is that there is a limit on cars in the parking lot. When that lot becomes full, no more cars are admitted. Some people prefer to take a shuttle because of this policy. You can also opt to take a regular bus to the crater and walk in. The walk is rather steep, but it only takes about ten minutes.
If you are planning on visiting the park, you should take measures to arrive early. The parking lot is generally closed by mid-morning. The best times to arrive are either in the early morning or in the mid afternoon (after the early visitors leave).
If you arrive and the parking lot to the park is full, there are other places in the area to visit in the meantime. The Makapuu point and lighthouse are popular tourist attractions that are nearby.
Exploring the Hanauma Bay Wildlife
The Bay features an abundance of sea turtles, which are called “honu.” In order to protect the honu and the other wildlife, visitors to the area are required to watch a video before entering the park. In the video, the visitors learn about the unique wildlife of the area. They are also taught about the rules for the park: no mistreating the marine animals and no touching or walking on coral heads.