Americas Hawaii Oahu Pacific Travel USA

Hanauma Bay: Oahu’s Natural Aquarium

Standing on the golden sandy beach of Hanauma Bay, just ten miles east of Waikiki, you would have trouble believing that you have set foot on the crater of an ancient volcano that flooded from the ocean when one of its exterior walls collapsed. The natural beauty of Hawaii’s natural reserve is awe-inspiring.

Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

The curvature of the bay shields the beach from waves and offers calm waters with incredible clarity. Marine life abounds and the colourful fish that surround people in the water makes it a very popular spot for snorkelling. Or just sunbathing away from the murky waters of Waikiki.

Hanauma Bay

In the past, visitors could feed the fish using specially purchased food from the kiosk. Since the late 1990s, feeding them is no longer allowed. Understandable yet somewhat unfortunate, for it was the marked excitement of the tourists, particularly the Japanese as we all got caught up in the fish feeding frenzy. Infectious laughter spread about the bay from one person to the other as the fish decided to poke their heads out of the water to be fed, a memorable ambience among strangers that gave this natural reserve its individual character.

Hanauma Bay

Getting there is easy. Just take the bus from Ala Moana shopping centre in Honolulu. And unlike the fish, be prepared to be packed like sardines.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay, Oahu

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.


    • Jen: I hope you do. And I don’t recommend you only see Waikiki. Day trips are very easy to do and Hawaii’s other island have so much to offer.

  • I was UNDERWHELMED by Hanauma Bay – it didn’t do it for me at all.
    It was pleasant but in comparison to any reef I have swum on the Great Barrier Reef it was dull. The coral was mostly dead, dieing or just bleached out. Sure there was an abundance of fish but not a huge variety.
    The highlights for me were a 4 foot long Moray eel catching crabs in about an inch of water and the 2 turtles we spotted.
    The lowlight was the 10000 people who we shared the beach with.
    Highly over-rated.

    • Neddy: I heard of late that it has become a non-event due to the lack of marine life and dead coral as you describe. It’s a shame that something that was once so beautiful is now nearly destroyed. I saw the same pattern in Tahiti on Moorea and it saddened me. 10,000 people?! There wouldn’t have been room to lay a towel!

  • This is fascinating. I have been to Oahu many times, but never to this incredible place. It is now definitely on my to do list.
    I just linked to your AMAZING blog.
    I just got started on this, and your blog is certainly something to look up to.
    Kudos gourmantic!

    • Hi Veronica and welcome 🙂 It’s worth a look though I am told that it is no longer as unspoilt as it was, and the marine life has dwindled.

      Thank you for the kind words 🙂 I look forward to getting to know you through your travels!