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Driving to Hanauma Bay & Diamond Head

Glen Rock, New...
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Driving to Hanauma Bay & Diamond Head

Hi!

My husband and I are traveling with our two daughters (16 & 18) to Oahu in August and staying at the Marriott Ko'Olina. Two activities on our bucket list are snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and hiking up Diamond Head. I've read all the posts about the getting to both destinations early and also about the morning rush hour traffic. Advice? Would traffic be better early on the weekends?

My 16 year old and I are the ones that are interested in the snorkeling and both of us are beginners and not strong swimmers. I found a vendor that does beginner snorkeling with a guide at Hanauma (no boat involved, can "touch" the bottom which makes up both more comfortable). I know Ko'Olina lagoons are calm too but does anyone know if they have instructors there? This will be our first time. I would prefer to stay closer to Ko'Olina and avoid Hanauma because of the travel if possible.

Thanks in advance for the insight.

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Bay Area, CA
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1. Re: Driving to Hanauma Bay & Diamond Head

Hi Karen,

I'd be interested in your guide. There was a guide on Maui that took out beginner snorkelers. Would love to find on on Oahu.

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2. Re: Driving to Hanauma Bay & Diamond Head

Confused: you say snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is on your bucket list but then you say you'd rather avoid it???

Anyway, yes, morning rush hour coming from Ko'Olina toward Honolulu will be very busy. You will have to leave super early on a weekday if you want to get to either Diamond Head or Hanauma Bay when they open (or whatever time it is).

Weekends should be less busy trafficwise.

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Honolulu
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West Chester...
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3. Re: Driving to Hanauma Bay & Diamond Head

Looking to do the same from Ko Olina in a couple weeks. I’m fine heading out early, but should Diamond Head or Hanauma Bay be first. I don’t exactly want to do a sunrise hike at DH, but I figured it be nice to hike and THEN hit HB?

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Ko Olina
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4. Re: Driving to Hanauma Bay & Diamond Head

Hanauma Bay and Diamond Head should be done on different days IMHO as both are better in the morning. Diamond Head gets more crowded and hotter as the day goes on. Either way make sure to take lots of water. Hanauma Bay is also better early as they only allow a limited number of people at any time and as the day goes on the water gets cloudy with everyone kicking and disturbing the bottom. Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays.

As a word of advice, you should be careful when standing while snorkeling. You need to be careful to stand on the sandy bottom rather than on the rock and coral as it kills the living organisms like coral. You should wear floatation rather than feeling the need to stand.

I did a quick scan about tours and it looks like most of them a full day tours and are very expensive. You do not need a tour to snorkel there. I would try snorkeling at Ko Olina and then go do Hanauma Bay after you're more comfortable.

Snorkeling is very easy in Ko Olina. The 2nd lagoon and the 4th lagoon (near the Marina) have the most fish. Facing the ocean from the Marriott (lagoon 3), lagoon 2 is to the right. Lagoon 2 (Honu) actually has turtles most days out by the rocks on either side of the water break. Most of each lagoon is not deep and you can mostly stand. Rather than panic, rent some inflatable floatation along with the other equipment to give you some comfort. If you are decent swimmers you will abandon them quickly. Think about going to a local dive shop and take a lesson in a pool to get used to the equipment before you leave home if it would make you more comfortable.

Another place to go is the beach at Paradise Cove. During high tide the turtles are in waist deep water. Remember to never try to touch the sea life. They are protected by law.

We snorkel most days because it's so easy to just walk down and into the lagoon. They are safe, little or no undertow and no predators. Not great snorkeling but excellent for learning how.

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Ko Olina
Ko Olina
Oahu, HI
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