Hanauma Bay was created about 32,000 years ago due to the volcanic activity that happened under the ocean and due to wave erosion, the bay was created. Hanauma Bay wasn’t always a “Nature Preserve” — it was a beach park and due to overfishing and tourism. They changed it from Hanauma Bay Beach Park to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in 1990 to clean up the bay and restore the bay’s integrity.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is located on the island of Oahu, just 25 minutes East of Honolulu. The drive there is absolutely beautiful and scenic as you drive along the coast on the highway. Your view is filled with forest, palm trees, and bright blue ocean waters that make you feel like you are in paradise (or maybe because you actually are).
It was about 15 dollars for the two of us to get in, and they do have a parking lot, but it was full and we ended having to park down the street in one of the nearby neighborhoods. With our snorkel gear in tow, we waited our turn to watch a 10-minute video on the nature preserve, how it came to be and the importance of the marine life that lives within the bay. The marine life is beautiful and precious and nothing is more important than maintaining their habitat. Things, like packing it in and packing it out, and using reef friendly sunscreen, are important.
On a side note, there are certain brands like Sun Bum, Ocean Potion, and Raw Elements that don’t contain certain ingredients that harm the reef life. We ended up using Ocean Potion and Raw Elements and they both definitely work well as far as sun protection goes. But Raw Elements does have a weird smell and is a bit greasy which is why we do prefer Ocean Potion because of its slightly more pleasant smell.
You can make your way down to the beach either by foot or by van, but going uphill and be a bit of a thigh burner! You can park yourself anywhere on the beach and just jump right in. Pop your head in the water and you can see some beautiful marine life. I took my GoPro Hero 7 with me and it did not disappoint.
There are some parts of the reef that become crowded and it gets difficult to maneuver around, it’s important to look where your feet land to make sure you’re not stepping on a blowfish or sea urchin. We snorkeled for about 2 hours and it was more than enough time to see the reef.
Pearl Harbor Memorial
I feel as if I do not need to provide too much background information on what is Pearl Harbor..
The Pearl Harbor Memorial is a place filled with so much history and many different ways to absorb the information. They have free tours available, which includes a 45-minute video on the history of Pearl Harbor and everything that happened.
Once the movie is over, we were taken on a boat tour to visit the USS Arizona, where the actual memorial is held. Unfortunately, when we were there the dock was being fixed so we were only able to drive past it and not go into the memorial. Normally, you will exit the boat and enter memorial where you can look down below and see where the USS Arizona lays beneath the waters.
After passing by the sunken ships and memorials, we headed back where we decided to on to the U.S.S Bowfin (for an additional cost, 15/person) and walked around the ship.
You have the option to take a headset and cassette tape with you to describe to everything on the boat, section by section. When you enter the boat, you can feel how the men lived on there for weeks at a time and see what it was like in such a small living space.
Check out the photos from inside the USS Bowfin
You can stay for as long or as little as you’d like, they have other places you can check out as well as a hot dog (just in case history makes you hungry). If you’re a history buff I definitely recommend visiting the memorial if you’re on the island.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
If you’re looking to get in some hiking while you’re on the island, Pillbox in Kailua is a must. Lanikai Pillbox is located on the eastside or the windward side of the island.
It is an easy hike that’s short, distancing out to about one mile roundtrip. The trail is easy but does steep, slippery, and can get a little rocky so wearing the appropriate shoes would be important, i.e. tennis shoes and not sandals.
Parking can be difficult as you would need to park along side a park and walk through a neighborhood to the trailhead. You’ll come to a dead end with a slightly hidden sign.
There are two stops, the first one about a quarter of a mile in where you can hop on the ledge and soak up the ocean view.
Another quarter mile out is the second ledge where you’ll get a stunning 360 degree view.
The views and the breeze is pretty sweet, sit down, have a snack and soak it all in. We went on a Saturday morning so the trail was getting packed by the time the afternoon rolled around.
It’s definitely an easy and doable hike, it can be a struggle if you’re wearing sandals or anything other than tennis shoes. I would also recommend on your way down the trail to go down sideways, it does make it a lot easier (especially on the knees)
Oahu has so much more beauty and fun to offer no what you’re interests are! From paragliding on Waikiki to luaus, or even shopping at the Ala Moana center, just immersing yourself in the Polynesian cultural and the countless beaches makes it truly paradise!
Thanks for reading! Mahalo, friends!