Snorkeling Hanauma Bay, Outside the Reef
by Cary Bennett
Turtle in Hanauma Bay
We decided that snorkeling Hanauma Bay on Oahu would fit the bill because we needed to go somewhere today that was close by so that we could make an early day of it because Gary has to get up in the morning and head to the University to teach.
Once we got parked then waited to watch the video that they require you to watch, we finally were able to head down to the bay.
Oh, let me back up a bit... Hanauma Bay is really stunning from up above! Such beautiful blue and aqua water! Be sure to have your camera handy when you get there. After securing our day pack in a locker, we found a spot on the grass beneath a palm tree and pulled on our wetsuits and headed to the water. (Yes, wetsuits. I am unapologetic about the fact that I was born and raised in Coral Gables, Florida, and if the water isn't at least bathtub warm... it's cold!)
We headed out from shore and decided to swim out from the center of the bay and head to our right, as the water was calmer with far fewer people. The water was very turbid and full of sand in the water column closer in, but, as we swam farther and got outside the reef beyond the buoys, the water cleared and became truly beautiful! We saw a great variety of beautiful fish and even swam with two turtles! We pretty thoroughly covered all of the areas that we wanted to see, and spent a solid two hours of swimming in doing so. We swam for an hour, came back up to the beach, had a protein bar, then went back in and swam for another hour on the left side of the bay.
A word of caution is due here: If you are a beginner or not confident in the water, stay well inside the buoys and shallower areas! There are a lot of currents as you make your way across the reef to the outside and you need to exercise caution!
Overall, I would rate this as a really good experience and definitely a "must-do" when on Oahu. Thursday, we are hopeful that conditions will allow us to snorkel Makaha Beach.