I thought Ev was a slightly crazy when he texted me at work on Thursday saying that he wanted to take the boys to Hanauma Bay this weekend. He had read an article in the newspaper that Hanauma Bay had reopened under a pilot project after being closed for eight and a half months due to the stay at home orders. The newspaper was reporting that the water was 64% clearer now than before Covid and that more fish, seals, and turtles were coming back into to the bay.
Although the park opened at 8 am, we knew that there would be a long line of people waiting to get in. We really didn’t know how early we would have to get there, but we eventually decided on getting to Hanauma Bay between 7 – 7:15 am. Ev dropped Connor and I off near the entrance and then parked one of the side streets in the nearby neighborhood and pulled Gray and our gear up the hill with the wagon. Waiting in the line was the most difficult part of the day. We tried to keep our spacing from others as best as we could, but it was difficult with so many people waiting around. We kept our masks on the whole time and wished for the best. If you are in a high-risk category for Covid, I would not recommend waiting in the pedestrian line.
Due to social distancing, they were only letting in 30 people into the park every fifteen minutes and capped the total visitor count for the day at 720 people (prior to Covid, they were averaging 3,000 people a day). They were alternating between a group of pedestrians and a group of cars. There were about 50 people in front of us in line, and we were fortunate to be in the second pedestrian group. The first pedestrian group were allowed to walk from the entrance to the visitor’s center at 8. Our group of 30 were let into the visitor’s center area at around 8:30. Admission is free with a Hawaii State ID and for children under 12. After the staff checked our state IDs, we were required to watch a 15 minute educational video on Hanauma Bay.
While the social distancing measures meant that there was a lot of waiting at the top, the benefit of those measures was once you got down to the beach, the place was pleasantly empty. When we first got in, there were only about 60 people there before us, so we had a whole section of the beach to ourselves. People came tricking in every 15 minutes but it took at least a few hours before you really noticed. And, even at its peak, there were still much less people than when we’ve gone to Waikiki or Ala Moana. It was actually really nice, and I hope they keep the 720 people per day cap in place.
Con and Ev spent most of the day snorkeling, and I stayed with Gray on the shore. Gray didn’t seem to mind that Con and Ev had gone swimming because he had a great time playing on the shore. Since most people go to Hanauma Bay for the snorkeling, we had a good amount shoreline to ourselves. Gray enjoyed making sandcastles, running up and down the shoreline, collecting unusual shaped rocks and sea glass, and drawing pictures in the sand.
Fortunately, I was relived of my Grayson duties and was able to get some time to go snorkeling too. I wish I had an underwater camera because the snorkeling was well worth the wait. I have never seen so many different types of fish in one place and you did not need to go out very far to start seeing fish. Con has been really into snorkeling recently, and he had a blast. He said this beach was the best and this was definitely the most fish he had ever seen.
The newspaper article also said that visitors had to be out of the bay at around 4pm, and we wanted to beat the crowd out of the park. We packed up at around 2:45 pm, showered off the boys and the gear, and took the free shuttle back to the visitor’s center. Having reached the 720 person cap at 2pm, the visitor’s center was empty and we were able to leave the park without much trouble. Overall, a very successful day at the beach and I am glad we went.
Hanauma Bay – hanaumabaystatepark.com
Wednesday – Sundays (8am – 4pm; no entry after 2pm)
720 guests per day; 120 per hour
Entry fee: $12 per person over 12 years of age; FREE with HI state ID