The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is the Hawaiian Island's most popular snorkelling spot. In fact, it is the most visited location on all of Oahu by visitors from all over the world, making it the ideal place to visit on your holiday to Hawaii Hanauma Bay has a varied history from what it was, what it became and all the way up to what it is today.
The word hana in Hawaiian means curved and uma means bay. So, quite literally, Hanauma Bay means Curved-Bay Bay. In the earliest of days, it is quite unlikely that native Hawaiians frequented Hanauma Bay for its swimming or even lived nearby due to the lack of fresh drinking water in the area. However, an excavation in the 1950 did reveal several remnants of camp fires and fishing material so the bay was most likely a popular fishing spot.
The bay did become a favourite swimming spot for Hawaiian Royalty at one point. The bay and the coral were nearly destroyed due to overuse between the 1960s and 1980s. There were actually projects that sanctioned building a telecommunications line right through the bay as well as blasting of the coral in the areas so that there was more swimming area.
Thankfully, the state and county stepped in to preserve the area. That is when the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve was born. Today, the amount of visitors allowed in the area is controlled and there is a small charge for visitors. Before entering the beach area, visitors also have to watch a 9 minute educational video about the volcanic origins of Hanauma Bay as well as care and respect for the coral and marine life.
Once there, though, WOW. Hanauma Bay is a picturesque, gorgeous slice of heaven that comes with changing rooms, showers, bathroom, food, tram service and the most tamed fish of anywhere else on the island. Sea turtles, moray eels, octopus, wrasse, angel fish, yellowfin surgeon fish are all seen in plentiful amounts. The Hawaiian reef triggerfish, once the official state fish, is called the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (Say that one time fast!) in the native Hawaiian. This fish can actually make an oinking pig sound when it is taken out of the water.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is truly a magical place. The water is calm and full of coral for seeing fish. The beach is soft and white. There's a reason why it is the most visited spot in Hawaii and you'll be sure to love snorkelling if you spend a couple of hours there on your Hawaiian holiday.