Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay: New Rules and Limits, Increased Fees, Online Reservations Only

Since December 1, 2021, important new rules and pricing have been in effect for the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (HBAY). Just a 25-minute drive from Waikiki, the popular snorkeling spot is a spectacular cove formed from a volcanic crater, and is teeming with marine life. But don’t show up without a reservation! Read on below for how to obtain yours.

With all the discussion in Hawaii about increased visitor fees, this iconic Hawaii destination has been testing new rules and the latest increase in visitor rates for a year and a half now. In 2016 the entry fee at Hanauma Bay was 5$ a person. By 2020 it had risen to 12$, and the latest changes have more than doubled that, bringing it to $25 per person. The City of Honolulu says that the money raised will go directly to management and improvement at Hanauma Bay.

Hanauma Bay is now open Wednesdays through Sundays, with daily entrance available for a maximum of 1400 visitors from 645 am to 130 pm.  All visitors must depart by 4 pm, and the beach will be cleared at 330 pm. As the schedule is subject to change, it is suggested that visitors call to inquire at  (808) 768-6861.

New mandatory online visitor reservations.

Entrance to Hanauma Bay is via a specific time reservation made and paid for online. Entry payments are not refundable unless the nature preserve is closed at your scheduled time of entrance.

Visit the Honolulu Parks & Recreation website for reservations (up to 5 adults and 5 children). The cost for visitors is $25 per person aged 13 and above, plus a 2.35% online processing fee.

Tickets are not transferable and all sales are final. There are no cancellations or exchanges. Visitors will receive an email confirmation. A valid photo ID matching the reservation is required at entry. “Unauthorized use of reservations will void the reservation without refund.”

Make mandatory online reservations two days in advance.

The reservation system permits selecting a video “show-time” 48 hours prior to your planned visit to Hanauma Bay. “Reservations will remain open until the spaces are filled or until midnight the day before, so reservations for Wednesday will close after 11:59 p.m. (HST) the preceding Tuesday.”

Required video viewing prior to entrance.

All visitors will need to watch the educational video in the Hanauma Bay theatre each time they visit. Even if you’ve seen the video before, it will still be required.

Parking is cash and in-person.

Hanauma Bay parking fees are collected when you arrive and are made in cash. The fee for parking is $3 for visitors and $1 for residents.

Be aware that bus service to the bay has been suspended since Covid 19; if you’re ok with a little bit of a walk, you can still take the bus to the Koko Marina shopping center and hoof it the rest of the way (about a mile).

Bring your own equipment or rent it there.

The rental concession for fins and masks has reopened. The fee is $20 per day per set. Lockers are also available.

Some flexibility for those without technology?

At least at the present time, a “limited amount of walk-in or drive-in access without an online reservation will continue to be allowed. On-site payment for entry is available.” What the limit is or how long it may continue for those without internet access, is not clear. Previously the city had said that up to 25% of the tickets might be available in person, but that is no longer clear.

Rules for Hawaii residents and the military are different.

Residents of Hawaii with valid IDs can visit without reservations during public hours of operation. Military members and their dependents get free entry with their military IDs.

Other important rules.

No outside commercial activities, including tours, are allowed on the premises, and taxis may not transport visitors into Hanauma Bay.

Concession hours.

The gift shop is open from 8 am until 330 pm, the food concession is open from 830 am until 2 pm, and the snorkel gear shop is open from 7 am until 3 pm.

Please let us know your thoughts on the Hanauma Bay visitor rates and other rules.

CoconutWilly from Honolulu wrote to us saying, “Oahu just implemented a $25 fee for Hanauma Bay. I have been in the hospitality industry here in Hawaii for 35 years. I disagree with price gouging the tourists to balance the budget. I always put myself in the other person’s shoes. A family of 4 needs to fork over another $100 to go to Hanauma? Forget it! HTA, your tactics to limit visitors are working!”

While $25 per person may not seem like a dramatic increase, it is more than double the prior rate. And, it comes at a time when visitor fees are under extreme scrutiny.

Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation’s View.

Honolulu DPR spokesperson Nate Serota said that “all the money that’s made from the entrance fees goes back into the maintenance, the education, the conservation efforts. So we need to maintain that source of funding in order to keep it the thriving attraction, not just for recreational enjoyment, but for conservation and to make it such a beautiful place in perpetuity.”

The city said that it is “looking at different ways to have revenue come in and one of the big things with Hanauma Bay is it’s free for locals and we charge the non-local residents to enter the bay.” The city plans to use this “visitors pay” but “locals do not” concept at other facilities soon.

“Providing a safe & enjoyable experience for bay visitors, while keeping the preserve’s conservation and fiscal sustainability objectives in mind, continues to be our ultimate goals…The ticketing system and increased access to the preserve’s parking lot proved to be the solutions we needed. ” –DPR Director-Designate Laura H. Thielen.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve was closed for 9 months due to COVID.

Hanauma Bay has always been one of the state’s primary snorkeling attractions for both visitors and residents. In the past, such throngs would come to see the beauty both above and below the water that they appeared to outnumber the marine creatures.

After it was closed due to COVID in March of 2019,  the bay started to heal following decades of abuse. Water quality and clarity improved without the visitors, their sunscreen, and the bread and other food they fed the fish. The marine ecosystem and its plethora of colorful coral and fish have since clearly begun to restore. Endangered species found there including sea turtles and monk seals have been seen in greater numbers.

Hanauma is the first Marine Life Conservation District in Hawaii and is considered one of Hawaii’s most breathtaking natural resources. Now you can be part of preserving and protecting one of the state’s rarest locations. The bay features both a deep outer reef and a shallow inner reef for protection, which results in calm, sparkling-clear waters.

Tip: Be aware that there is an unofficial website that looks official which is hanaumabaystatepark.com. We won’t link to that one. Here is the official state website for Hanauma Bay.

Visitors and locals previously imperiled Hanauma Bay.

Prior to the first efforts to limit visitors in 1990, by instituting entry fees and limiting the number of tour buses, it was inundated by over 3 million visitors a year. In the years before COVID, Hanauma Bay saw up to 6,000 visitors per day, but with the new regulations, the daily visitor count is in the range of 1400-2000.

Friends of Hanauma Bay.

That is the not-for-profit organization that closely monitors everything happening within the bay. Their president, Lisa Bishop, said that water visibility had improved 64% since before the COVID shutdown. She also noted that it was the first time in four decades that dangerous sunscreen chemicals had not been in the water.

Since the closure, larger species and an abundance of tropical fish have returned making it worth the wait to enter.

Pristine ecosystems in recovery

More than a decade ago, new efforts got underway to restore Hanauma Bay. Due to long-term abuse and overuse, with millions of annual visitors, 30 years ago Honolulu unveiled a plan to restore the bay by implementing restrictions including visitor counts, and the creation of educational programs. Then in 2002, the Hanauma Bay Marine Education Center opened. It is there that visitors watch a short video supporting efforts to restore this special place when we visit. Further back, in 1967, Hawaii first designated the 100-acre Marine Life Conservation District.

Sunscreen at Hanauma Bay.

Hawaii has banned sunscreens deemed unsafe. There is a prohibition on the sale and distribution of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are chemicals that are found in thousands of sunscreens. This law became effective on January 1, 2021.

“Our natural environment is fragile, and our own interaction with the earth can have lasting impacts…. This new law is just one step toward protecting the health and resiliency of Hawaii’s coral reefs.” — Governor David Ige.

Updated July 20, 2023

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142 thoughts on “Hanauma Bay: New Rules and Limits, Increased Fees, Online Reservations Only”

  1. I so agree with Nancy M and Jeanne F. and a few others on here. I can remember back in the day when Hawaii sat on my bucket list and thrilled to say it’s now my reality. My daughter purchased a home here and I visit at least 2-3 times a year since 2014 and will continue to do so. With that said, I’ve always known Hawaii to be expensive (hence that bucket list for so long),I do find myself questioning what it is that Hawaiians really want because what is happening seems to be sending the wrong message. Would it be safe to say that tourism is Hawaii’s biggest industry? Leading me to the question, “Why”? If you continue on this path making it so people really can’t afford to visit your beautiful state, your local businesses won’t thrive, your homeless population/tent cities will continue to grow, and Hawaiian’s will be so stressed that the Aloha friendliness will no longer exist. Though I have my own personal thoughts on this whole COVID hysteria, I understand safety first, and Hawaii wanting to continue with the vaccines, testing and mask wearing…however, it’s gone beyond that with car rentals out of control,I’m sure hotels and restaurants the same, and now increased visitor rates? During this whole pandemic, we’ve seen so many local businesses shut down, never to reopen, we’ve eaten at popular restaurants where my husband and I were practically the only customers, tipping the poor waitress 100.00 because we realized that was probably one of the few tips she’d get that day, and watched as the hub of Waikiki became eerily deserted and ghost like. There’s a phrase, “If you build it, they will come”…and my own phrase, “If you keep raising your prices, they won’t be able to afford to come”…. I can only say this Hawaii …Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face…

  2. When an unexpected, uncontrollable event like Covid 19 occurs… with it’s miraculous impact on natural places such as Hanauma Bay (does not okay the human toll exacted by the pandemic), we need to take our wins, where we may. Saving a place as incomparable as Hanauma Bay with increased entry charges, seems a small price to pay to continue the restoration; limiting human damage is a positive and proven method. Whatever it takes?


  3. Hawaii is becoming too expensive in many ways I used to be able to go once or twice a year and travel thrifty now I can barely manage once a year. I would not take my family to this beautiful public park and pay $25 per person or $125 just to get in. Covid has harmed many of us financially and either Hawaii wants visitors or it doesn’t. We can always watch videos and just swim at the hotel pool that has all kinds of fees too.

    1. We will not be renting a car when we go in June of 2022. How do we get there if relying on Uber, taxi or busses. Are they not allowing drop offs and pick-ups?

  4. Thanks for all the information you provide – it is always so useful. Trying to balance the fee against the effort to protect the reef is a huge task I’m sure. The problem I see is that Hawaii is asking only visitors to carry the burden. And that sends a negative message to tourists. Every visitor to the location has an impact so if the fee is only to sustain the natural resource then everyone should be willing to help. Of course residents should be given a discount. But a more than 100% increase levied only upon visitors is sending the wrong message – or is it??

  5. Aloha to all whom read this website, and a special Aloha to all those whom monitor and operate this website! Mahalo for all the information you provide. 🙂 Now, personally the new ‘visitor fee’ rate being doubled is a bit much and could, I said could and not should, be lowered to $18.00 as a way to control access while still generating revenue. With that said, and I shall contradict my previous comment, I am all for the strict preservation of the Hanauma Bay region, and especially the new sunscreen ban. I say this because I do remember Hanauma Bay from my time on Oahu (1979 to 1981) years ago and how beautiful the water was, yet was over crowded by people whom did not understand natural fish habitats. Please continue to see this beautiful location return to as natural a state as possible, while continuing to share its beauty with those inclined to enjoy it. Again, Mahalo to all! Aloha to all! Be safe everyone!

  6. For a State that relies heavily on tourism it sure seems like everything is being done to discourage tourist from visiting.

  7. I agree with fees for these very unique and special places in Hawaii. I also agree with fees for parking. I think residents should also have to pay,parking included. Many residents take these very beautiful special places for granted. As I compose this I am sitting in a beach chair on a beautiful but not well known beach on Kauai looking at abandoned cars.
    Residents too leave a carbon footprint,and for too long many have had a disregard ,and sense of entitlement to these places.

  8. It seems more and more that Hawaii is discouraging tourists from visiting your beautiful islands. As someone who has visited 20+ times to enjoy the beauty and culture of your islands, I have to say that I don’t feel welcome to visit anytime in the near future.

  9. Sadly, it seems like every other article is about a new “tourist tax”. Kauai is proposing charging only tourists for some beach parking, with penalties of $100 for the first violation and a whopping $500 for the second!
    Pretty soon tourists will be prevented from going to most of the scenic locations because they missed the ticket lottery, are sent away because too many people are there already, or like this article says, can’t necessarily afford an unplanned $100 for a family of four. Tourists are probably going to decide to go elsewhere and that will impact an economy that relies on billions (with a b) of tourist dollars.

  10. First it was the pool use fee, then the air conditioning fee, that all turned into the resort fee which almost all resorts charge but you don’t find out until you get ready to check out surprise surprise surprise, then the $100 visitor fee and a beach use fee. When will it stop

    1. Good for Hunama Bay! Its not about gouging visitors, it’s about protecting the fish and coral. I wish DLNR would do the same at Ahihi Reserve on Maui.

      1. Betty you’re WRONG and that is why a lot of us visitors are upset. Your politicians don’t give a flying rat fart about the fish or coral!If they did we’d understand however, in their own words it’s all about making money!

        The city said that it is “looking at different ways to have revenue come in and one of the big things with Hanauma Bay is it’s free for locals and we charge the non-local residents to enter the bay.” The city plans to use this “visitors pay” but “locals do not” concept at other facilities soon.

      2. Wondering how Hawaii residents would react to special fees for visiting and parking at mainland or Alaskan destinations, charged only to Hawaii residents?
        Maybe special charges wouldn’t be so appealing.

        1. Maybe they should implement these extra charges only on foreign visitors. People from the mainland should be allowed the same priviledges as Hawaii residents because we are all of the same country. Mahalo for your wonderful information.

          1. Hi Mike.

            Thanks for your feedback on visitor fees and for your other comments as well.


        2. Why just Hawaii residents? Hawaii isnt saying just California or specific states…its saying non residents. If Alaska or any state for that matter, has a natural wonder or scenic spot that requires monitoring and preservation and they allowed State residents free access but charged visitors…Hawaii locals wouldnt complain. No one should.The Residents income and daily taxes already help support these things. Plus they live there. Its wrong to put things out there like just Hawaii residents

    2. Hotel resort fees are widespread, not just in Hawaii. I go to Las Vegas every year and have been charged that same fee for at least the last 5 years. I have also seen that fee in California, New Jersey, Mexico and the Bahamas. Go to any touristy location and be expected to pay higher for everything, if you’re going to be all bummed about what a vacation is costing you, stay home!

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