This spot is billed as a “Tourist nightmare” due to its popularity and widely known beauty. The experience Ashley and myself had could not have been farther from the expectations set by the locals. We took one of our first bus trips to this place leaving at about 10:00 AM. As per usual my timing could not have been worse. Especially due to it being Valentine’s Day weekend and the bus being completely packed. Standing in a bus and slamming your ass and dick into people’s faces as the bus jolts from starting and stopping is funny but supremely uncomfortable. But since we were new here and on public transportation in general, I figured this was the way of things.
We arrived at the entrance to the snorkeling section, which ended up being $15/each CASH ONLY, with nary an ATM in sight. Luckily we still had traveling cash but some of the people ahead of us in like clearly did not and were not happy about the payment options. While we were waiting I bonded with a Canadian man over GoPros and GoPro accessories, we were both brand new at using them and traded the zero tips and tricks we had.
GoPro Selfie. FUCK YOU SELFIES ARE COOL.
FIRST IMPRESSION. This place is beautiful. I mean, lose-yourself-staring-for-30-straight-minutes beautiful. On a clear day, I can’t compare it to anything else on earth. 1. Because I’ve only been a handful of places, and 2. It really IS one of the most beautiful places on earth. Should Earth be capitalized? The squiggly line isn’t correcting me so fuck it. I would’ve been happy standing at the top of the ridge and surveying the area. I’m not a religious man but looking at Hanauma Bay made me second guess my beliefs.
Jesus Tapdancing Christ that’s Pretty
Once we got past the admission line, there is a 10 minute instructional video that explains all of the shitty things tourists do to the bay and asks you to please not do those things. It also has an original song produced for the video that was awesomely terrible and will be with me forever. “Come and spend your daaaaay, at Hanauma bayyyyy.” I kept my opinion to myself because it would’ve annoyed Ashley and led to a huge fight. During the video I spoke with a local who told me about “Unreal Hawaii” for hiking destinations. Unreal Hawaii is the shit, shout out to that man (forgot your name) and if you like Hiking in Hawaii bookmark that mother fucker immediately. I’ve been checking off the hikes one by one but that’s for another post.
After the video mercifully ended, we quickly game planned to rent our equipment, check in our backpack, and pick a spot on the beach. It all went off without a hitch, and we bought re-usable mouth pieces to use in the future. After seeing how the snorkeling equipment was cleaned, casually dipped in some standing, sandy, dirty saltwater, I would accept nothing less.
As we geared up and got used to snorkeling again, swallowing gallons of salt water throughout the process, I set up the GoPro and got ready to film my sure to be Emmy award winning underwater segment. We got acclimated pretty quickly all things considered, and heeded the warnings of the instructional video to utilize the buddy system, and also because we love each other. After the first few minutes, we realized we were floating above a complex, endlessly beautiful ecosystem. I mean, it was like “The Little Mermaid” in terms of how friendly and unafraid the fish and other creatures were of you. They swam in front of your face, didn’t mind when you stuck a camera in theirs, and usually pretended you weren’t there.
I almost lost my GoPro 4-5 times, but ended up with some really cool footage. I have to work on my cinematography skills, but all in all a good first underwater voyage for the GoPro. Link to the footage below.
The rest of the day went off without a hitch, we snorkeled, ate lunch, chilled on the beach, and eventually left at around 4:00 PM, not knowing the ride back would be a lot more eventful than we expected.
As we were waiting for the bus, we chatted with an Iranian man who commented on how shockingly white I was and bonded with Ashley immediately, his wife, and a Texan grad student there for a conference. After two asshole bus drivers wouldn’t give us any information and treated us like shit, a cab driver in a minivan pulled up and offered us a ride for $5 a person. Deal. As we got into the cab, an employee of the bay ran up and started harassing the guy saying, “They have rules here.” “He can’t be picking up people at that site.” “He’s fucking banned”. What rules he was breaking I still don’t know, and after inquiring he seemed hazy on them as well. Either way, he pulled up about 25 ft. and we all jumped in as the guard/employee/douche was running after us claiming what we were doing is illegal. Making a great impression on the locals so far.
The ride home was great as these were some really smart, well-spoken people all much more driven and accomplished than me. We enjoyed listening to their abbreviated life stories and sharing our own, as well as cracking some jokes about the dickbag we escaped and life experiences. Most notably, the Texan trying to (jokingly) steal me away from Ashley because she was a traveling single woman and I was a highly mobile (in terms of occupation) man. Along with Ashley and the Iranian father sharing some experiences from basically living a mirrored life on opposite sides of the mainland.
Hanauma bay is worth the visit. I wouldn’t go on a weekly basis or anything but it’s the best place I’ve been snorkeling in and not as crowded as the bus would have you believe. If you visit Hawaii you need to check it out. And if any of my friends ever make it out here I’m using one of their vacation days here.