Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hawai'i: Hanauma Bay

Another big highlight during our time on Oahu was our trip to Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is a protected nature reserve so before you can snorkel there everyone is require to watch a video on what you should do to protect the reef (though few seemed to actually follow the guidelines).
We did our best to get there early in the morning but after the long wait (and long ride) for the bus we didn't actually get in until 9am. Still the beach wasn't too crowded and we managed to find a place on the reef that wasn't very busy.
The bay itself is really quite shallow, there were times that my knees were scraping over the coral. The reef is in sad condition. As one guide book put it, the reef is being "loved to death". The cove makes it really protected so there really isn't much in the way of waves and the fish are so used to people you can almost touch them.
The diversity of fish is really quite amazing. We saw so many different kinds we thought we would run out of space on the camera with how many pictures we were taking. Visiting the Waikiki Aquarium the day before was a great idea. It made it really easy to identify local fish species and to know which we should stay clear of.
Even though the reef was lacking in color thanks to climate change and damage due to tourists, the fish certainly didn't lack in color. They were so bright and so many different colors.
It was a wonderful day, the beach is nice and sandy and the water was relatively clear. Bring sunscreen though. And I would recommend applying the sunscreen after you get out of the water. The water seems to have an oily coating on top due to all the sunscreen that gets washed off while snorkeling. It doesn't do you any good in the water even if it says "waterproof". I didn't get burnt (badly, badly burnt) until after we left the water.
We snorkeled for about 2 hours before the amount of people in the water became unbearable. I kept getting kicked and all the fins were kicking up a lot of sediment so it was getting hard to see. If you are planning on visiting Hanauma Bay, go early and leave before noon. But don't miss it if you are on Oahu, the snorkeling can't be beat.

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