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Hanauma Bay

June 30, 2008

Hanauma Bay

Last weekend we made it out to the famous Hanauma Bay. A visit had eluded us on a previous trip to Oahu when a full parking lot denied us entry. This time we were a bit luckier with our timing.

The bay is one of those miraculous natural formations that gives spontaneous rise to belief in a higher intelligence. It is a crescent moon of volcanic cliffs lined with wispy vegetation, a perfect long stretch of sandy beach nestled in the valley and crystal clear shallows blotted with reef. The beauty is pretty intense, and understandably attracts tourists by the busload. The authorities turned it into a regulated park in 1990 to reduce the impact of gazillions of beachgoers. I would judge the effects of this policy to be partial.

They make you watch a video prior to entry that dispenses advice on how to minimize your footprint by not touching any wildlife, including the coral. While it seems kind of preachy and longwinded when you watch it, it does have the effect of making you feel guilty when you are snorkeling and inevitably, unintentionally breaking off chunks of coral with your flailing limbs. Which coral is, by the way, almost completely covered in algal bloom, just like all of Waikiki’s.

The illusion of sanctuary set up by the video is also dispelled by arrival on the beach to crowds that rival Waikiki.

Some cool fish to be seen though. Well worth the trip for the breathtaking scenery and wildlife. Just don’t call it a “natural preserve,” ok?

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