Hanauma Bay accommodates more than 10,000 visitors daily with its swimming, snorkeling and other amenities. Originally formed as the cone of a volcano, it was eventually breached by the ocean and formed a natural cove protecting the area from high winds and rough seas. The area was declared a State Marine Life Conservation District in 1967 because the protected area was host to more than 100 species of fishes. Depths can reach 70 feet (21 m) at the outer point, with bottom reefs and wall formations offering exploration points. Rip currents can build seaward, which requires the judgment of a professional guide. C-cards are required for the deepest areas. Divers without C-cards will be restricted to a sand patch inside the barrier in depths of less than 15 feet (5 m) of water. The entry to the deeper stuff is off the right side of the beach.
Depths to: 70 feet (21 m)
Visibility: 40-80 feet (12-24 m)
Water temperature: 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius) from November to April, and 75-80 F (24-27 C) from May to October.
Aquatic life: Large resident eels, spotted eagle rays, octopus, green sea turtles, Uulua (jack fish) with more than 100 species of fish
Fees: $1 per car to park and $5 per person to enter. The entrance fee is waived for children under 13 and for residents of Hawaii with proof of residency.
On-site amenities: The Hanauma Bay Education Center is where visitors must view a nine-minute orientation film before gaining access to the beach.
More info: Visit www.honolulu.gov/cms-dpr-menu/site-dpr-sitearticles/1705-hanauma-bay-underwater.html.
Open: Summer session: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Tuesdays, when it is closed. On the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, Hanauma Bay remains open until 10 p.m. Winter session: From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Tuesdays, and on the second Saturday of each month during the winter, Hanauma Bay remains open until 10 p.m. For the latest information, call the recorded information line at (808) 396-4229.
Getting there: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is about 10 miles east of Waikiki just off the main coastal road ( Kalaniana’ole Highway , Route 72).