- Where is Hanauma Bay located?
Hanauma Bay is located about 30 minutes east of Waikiki. Take the H1 East which turns into Kalanianaole Highway. You pass Koko Marina and then go up a hill and Hanauma Bay is on your right-hand side. Turn down into the Bay and continue to the parking lot on the left-hand side. ALL GUESTS WILL MEET AT THE FRONT OF THE ENTRANCE LINE NEAR THE GIFT SHOP. Directions and a link to Google Maps can be found in your confirmation email.
- How long does it take to drive there?
Drive times vary according to traffic conditions and time of day.
Standard times are as followed.
From Waikiki: 30 minutes
From the North Shore: one hour and 15 minutes
From Koolina: one hour and 15 minutes
These are, of course, best case scenarios and do not account for Oahu’s well-known traffic problems or road closures. Please account for this when planning your trip. Google Maps times in the evening will be much different than in the morning rush hour traffic.
- What time should I book my tour?
This depends on two things.
- Do you have a rental car?
- Are you staying in Waikiki?
We recommend the morning Hanauma Bay snorkel tour for anyone who has their own rental car and is staying in the Honolulu area. The parking lot fills up by 7:30 a.m. and is closed off and on throughout the day. You will have no issues with parking if you book the 7:30 a.m. tour time as you are asked to arrive 15 minutes early anyway.
The exception to this is if you’re staying in Koolina or North Shore. During morning rush hour it is not unlikely that drive times double or even triple from stated times above. If this is the case, we recommend for you the 10 a.m. time slot. It’s your vacation after all and who wants to wake up before 5 a.m. and sit in traffic on their vacation?
The 1 p.m. tour is hit or miss with the parking lot situation but we do recommend arriving at least 30 minutes early for this time slot. Also, if an earlier tour is available we would recommend the earlier slot as water is generally a little more calm in the morning.
- What if I do not have a rental car?
In order to get the most out of your Oahu trip we highly recommend renting a car and getting out of Waikiki at least for a day or two. But if you choose to forgo a rental car you can get to Hanauma Bay by city bus #22 or using an Uber or Lyft taxi. NEW USERS MAY SIGN UP FOR UBER OR LYFT USING THE CODES IN YOUR CONFIRMATION EMAIL FOR FREE RIDES.
- What do I do if the parking lot is full upon arrival?
Please, please, please arrive early! If the lot is full, no worries, simply go to the alternative parking (directions in your confirmation email), call us, and we can pick you up there and drive you in. We do pick-ups 20 – 30 minutes before your tour time. Our guide will call or text you to touch base 30 minutes before your time to check and see if you’re going to need a ride or you’re on public transportation so PLEASE KEEP CELL PHONES HANDY.
- I'm really early and no one is answering the phone?
During tour times phones ring directly to the guides. Meaning if they’re in the water, no one will answer the phone. If you are going to need a ride from the alternative parking simply leave us a message or send us a text and your guide will touch base as soon as they are back on dry land. If you are SUPER early we recommend looping around once or twice and hoping they open the lot and you can catch a spot as someone else is leaving.
- Once at Hanauma Bay, where do I meet my guide?
Great question and this one confuses a lot of people. Meeting time is 15 minutes before your Oahu snorkel tour at the bench just outside the gift shop. Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve and we are not allowed to have booths set up or hold any sort of signage so your guide will be there looking for you/calling your name. Gift shop is located just near the front of the entrance line, not down on the beach.
- The line to get in is really long, what do I do?
Great news! When you join our guided tour you don’t have to wait in that crazy line! Simply go to the bench and have a seat and your guide will meet you there 15 before your tour time!
- Do we still have to watch the orientation video?
Yes, all guests must watch a quick seven-minute video about the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Although we agree it’s a little cheesy and could use a revamp, it gives you some awesome information about the Bay, wildlife, and dos and don’ts while being a guest at one of the greatest places to snorkel in the world!
- Do I have to pay the entrance fee?
Yes, entrance fees will be paid direct to Hanauma Bay upon arrival. Please bring cash and your guide will meet you 15 minutes before your tour time and skip the line to purchase everyone’s tickets for entrance and orientation show time. Your tour time is your video time so that’s why you must arrive at the meeting location 15 minutes prior to scheduled tour times.
Exceptions: Kama’aina, Active Duty Military with proper ID, children under 12, AND if you arrive before 7 a.m. there will be no entrance fee.
- Can we stay longer at the Bay if we want?
Absolutely and we encourage it! Just be aware that we do have to “check-in” and “check-out” together. They want to make sure we are keeping our numbers to a maximum of five people per tour and also that we bring everyone out safely and they have it documented we did so. After your Hanauma Bay snorkel tour, you head back up to the entrance where we check-out and also give you the opportunity to see your photos and get anything out of our vehicle that we may be holding onto for you. After that you are free to go back down to the beach and hang out all day, if you like.
- Aren’t there lockers on the beach?
Yes, but as with everything in Hawaii they are very expensive. About $10 each. We are happy to lock your stuff in our vehicle to save you some money or give you a moment to go back to your car and leave anything in there you don’t need. Just be sure to keep your cell phones handy until you meet your guide! Very important!
- Do you take photos during our tour?
You know it! We take photos during your excursion and usually end up with 50 – 100 photos. Photo packages are $29 per family and includes all the photos from your tour time. And remember, if you book two different excursions with us, you receive FREE PHOTOS on both tours! Awesome!
- Will I see turtles during this excursion?
We sure do hope so!! We know where they like to hang out and we can usually find them but we cannot promise or guarantee them. They are wild after all. What we can promise is lots of fish, fun, and friendship!
- My family wants to go but I just want to watch and not snorkel, is that ok?
Well we don’t know why anyone would not want to at least give it a try, but of course. Any non-snorkeler can hang out on the beach and take photos or soak up some of that amazing Hawaiian sun. They will still have to pay the entrance fee, but we do not ask that they pay us anything.
- How long will we be snorkeling?
Both Hanauma Bay and our Honolulu Sail and Snorkel have one hour of in water time. But expect to be with us for at least two and a half hours. We take our time and are never in a hurry… as we say, “We stay on Hawaii Time.”
- WHAT IS YOUR CANCELLATION POLICY
FOR ALL TOURS: A credit card is required at time of booking and your card will be charged at the time of booking. You may cancel or change your reservation at any time prior to 48 hours before your tour and you will be given a full refund. In the event of a no-show, late arrival, or last-minute cancellation no refunds will be given. No exceptions.
We recommend that you do not book your tour the same day you will be arriving in case of airline delays or cancellations. We also highly recommend purchasing travel insurance in case of such instances.
Please plan for Oahu’s well known traffic problems and arrive to Hanauma Bay early. If you are late, your guide will most likely not be able to wait for you, as we have to be fair to all guests. In such a case, please note that no refunds will be given and rebooking will most likely not be possible as our tours fill up weeks ahead of time. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your tour time to allow for traffic and parking situations.
All tours are subject to wind, waves, and weather conditions. In the event of dangerous conditions we may be required cancel tours for your safety. In this case, a full refund or transfer of tour to another date will be given.
Please note: Tours will not be cancelled in the event of rain.
PLEASE BE SURE TO READ YOUR CONFIRMATION EMAIL THOROUGHLY SO YOU KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT THE DAY OF YOUR TOUR.
General Snorkeling FAQ
- Is there an age requirement for snorkeling?
Not necessarily. We’ve taken people from three to 85 on our tours. It’s all about each particular person. Young children will most likely not be in the water for the full hour. They simply get cold or bored usually after 20 to 30 minutes. This is plenty of time for them to experience snorkeling, have fun, and be excited to do it again in the future. We never force children to stay in the water longer than they want. We want them to have a great memory of it even if it means only seeing a few fish and being stoked on that!
- I cannot swim, can I still snorkel?
This is a tricky one. The way we answer this question is to assure you that you do not need to be an amazing swimmer to snorkel. But… you must be somewhat comfortable in water. Snorkeling is more about floating than swimming but if you’re terrified of water, there’s not going to be a whole lot we can do for you in an hour. Although first-timers may join our Honolulu Sail and Snorkel, at our “turtle town,” we recommend all first-timers to join the Hanauma Bay tour first! Here, we specialize in “nervous nellies” first-timers, and people of all skill levels and we absolutely love watching people get out of their comfort zone, getting over fears, and trying something new! We are there for you every step of the way and will even hold your hand if we have to! The great thing about the Bay is that you don’t have to go very deep to see amazing wildlife. Nervousness is ok, the ocean is a powerful thing and one should respect it, but trust us when we say YOU CAN DO IT!
- I wear contacts, can I still snorkel?
Yep! We have guides who do it every day!
- I wear glasses, can I still snorkel?
Glasses cannot be worn under snorkel masks unfortunately. We recommend wearing contacts or if your eyes aren’t that bad simply going without as most people do. Water does magnify things by 33% so most people end up seeing fine without.
- Should I shave my mustache before snorkeling?
My advice: Ask your wife first!
Just kidding of course, but guys, be aware that the mustache that you love so much will cause your mask to leak water. No recommendations here, just be aware and make your own decision on that one!
- Do I have to wear a floatation device?
Nope! We have them on every tour and recommend them for everyone, but we do not require them. They do make your life a little easier though. After all, you are on vacation so why not relax a little more and use one!
Stand Up Paddle Boarding FAQ
- Is there an age limit for SUP?
Our rule of thumb is they have to be strong enough to carry the paddle board on their own in order to use their own board. For some kids this might be five years old, for others it might be 10. For younger children or children who may not be ready to paddle on their own, we do offer the option of putting them on the same board as the guide. They still learn to paddle and proper techniques, but have someone right there, helping them along the way. Plus, when they get tired, they can simply sit down and enjoy the ride. Sorry parents, this option is not available for you folks.
Pricing is the same for this option.
- Is there a weight limit for SUP?
Our boards are large, very stable, and can hold up to 280 pounds. This is a low impact sport and great for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.
- Is paddle boarding hard?
Well, it is a workout, but we’ll tell you it is WAY easier than surfing and a lot more fun for people of all ages and abilities. Remember even if you don’t stand up, you can always just float around on the boards and enjoy the adventure. 99% of people we take up end up standing and we would say about 80% never even fall. With our guides’ expert instructions, you’re up and paddling in no time!
- Do you rent paddle boards?
We only rent paddle boards to guests who have previously done a tour with us. Although Ala Moana is quite calm and protected there are some hazards and changing wind and ocean conditions can turn an easy day of paddling into a nightmare without a proper guide and lesson. Also, even though it looks easy when watching from the beach there are several techniques that we teach you to ensure you have an easy and fun time on your Honolulu SUP tour. There’s a small learning curve with SUP but if you never learn the proper way, it will be a rough day of falling and getting back up a bunch of times. We recommend everyone taking a lesson before renting a board on your own.
- When is the best time to SUP?
Early morning tours are the best. We know you are on vacation and want to sleep in a bit, but ocean and wind conditions are more calm and peaceful in the morning. Once the wind picks up in the afternoon SUPing can become very difficult, if not impossible. We also recommend weekdays, if possible, as Ala Moana Beach can be somewhat busy on the weekends.
- I’ve had knee/hip injuries can I still SUP?
Please call us and we can discuss this one. Ultimately it would be up to you and your doctor, but we’ve taken out many people who thought they would not be able to do it and turns out they love it, it’s therapeutic, and they go home and continue to participate in the sport on their own lakes and rivers. They even send us the pictures to prove it! We’re talking about you, Patricia!! Even if you decide that standing up is not going to happen for you, you can still sit on the board and ride it around like a kayak and enjoy the experience of being out on the ocean and doing something new.
- Can I book a group lesson?
Why would you want to? Our prices for PRIVATE tours are the same, usually cheaper than other companies in the area, and you get a guide all to yourself. This means whether you’re a “group” of one or a group of four, you have your own personal guide teaching at your level giving you the attention you deserve! We love doing private tours and getting to know each and every guest! We are want everyone to feel like ohana (family) and make sure you get the most out of your day of adventure!
- Are there sharks?
We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our sharks and hope that there are many of them out in the ocean. It means the ocean is healthy and thriving! For your peace of mind though we can tell you that there are no sharks lurking around in the waters of Ala Moana Beach Park. We go there because it’s super calm and protected and the only big wildlife you’ll see is the occasional friendly sea turtle who pops his head up to say hello on almost every tour.
- Will I fall?
Maybe… but that’s half the fun anyway!