Can you imagine swimming side by side with some of the world's most colorful fishes? Come to Hanauma Bay Beach Park, where the meeting of worlds takes place.
To get there , get on the freeway, heading east on H-1. At the end of the freeway, you will end up on Kalanianaole Highway. Stay on the right lane until you reach the top of the mountain, take a right to enter the parking lot of Hanauma Bay. There is a donation fee to enter the beach (an amount of five dollars per family would be greatly appreciated). The park also provides a trolley to take you down to the beach, then back up to the parking lot area for seventy five cents one way. We recommend that you get there early to get parking or you will have to park on the side of the road.
Hanauma in Hawaiian has several different meanings; hana is bay and uma could mean curved, a form of wrestling, or a landing port of a canoe. From the parking lot you can see the bay as if it were a very large pond. The sand is white as clouds and the deep blue ocean is bright as the sky. The air is clean and crisp. With the tradewinds blowing, you can taste the salt as if you were in the ocean. If you listen carefully, you can hear the trees gracefully swaying, as if they were dancing the hula.
Hanauma was created by an under sea volcanic eruption about 35,000 years ago. Those with high ranking such as kings and the nobility, or alii were allowed. The bay was used primarily for festivals and fishing. Hula competitions for both men and women, and uma wrestling tournaments activities that were considered sacred were held there. King Kamehameha V and King Liholiho kept the bay as their private fishing grounds.
During W.W.II, it was used as a military station known as Minnesota Beach. Then in 1967, it became a marine reserve, to keep the most exotic fish safe, so there are no fishing, spearing, or netting. Because most of the coral on the inside of the reef is dead; killed by people walking on it and grabbing hold of it, you cannot pick or break the coral. Coral takes about 100 years for it to grow just 10 inches(Scott 24). Most of the fish that resides there depend on the reef for food. "Blue Hawaii" and "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" with Elvis Presley were filmed at Hanauma Bay in the 1960s. Then in 1978, the City and County of Honolulu took over the responsibilities of the park, in which bathrooms and concessions were added for the locals and visitors alike to enjoy the area.
When you enter the ocean, schools of fishes will greet you at the shoreline as you join them for a swim. Divers of all kinds come to swim: beginners, intermediate, or advanced. All you will need are a mask, snorkel, and fins. Certified Scuba divers are also welcome. Bring your scuba gear and dive booties. Don't fret if you did not bring any equipment with you; the park rents them out.
Once underwater, you might see Hawaii's State fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (humu-humu-nuku-nuku-a-pu-aa). Humuhumu means "to fit pieces together" like the triangular pattern on their skins, and nukunukuapuaa means "a nose like a pig." You may have the privilege of swimming with some of the endangered species like the spinning dolphins and green sea turtles, and also be able to hear the Humpback Whales singing during the summer and winter.
Keyhole is the largest sand pocket within the reef where the fishes will swim with you side by side, and a time when you experience feeding the fish from your hand with food purchased from the park. Also at Hanauma, there are two places that I must warn you about; one that we call Witches Brew, that name because it usually is a veritable cauldron, boiling furiously and filled with all kinds of strange ingredients, ranging from fishing nets to swimming fins, and Toilet Bowl which earned its name because swells that surge into the inlet causes the water in the pool to rise and fall, an imitation of that in a flushing and filling toilet bowl. Waves can rush unexpectedly, taking unsuspecting people with them, often to their death (Scott 68). You can ask the lifeguard how to get there, but only for picture-taking.
From atop the Koko Head Ridge (it is possible to hike the crater rim around Hanauma Bay) the beauty of Hanauma Bay will take your breath away. So, bring your beach chairs, umbrella, suntan lotion, and underwater camera with extra film. Because you will want to remember your exciting day and the beauty of Hanauma Bay.