Hanauma Bay adventures


Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. Hanauma Bay consistently is rated one of the top tourist destinations on Oahu.

In 1999, the family began a 13 month sojourn in Honolulu. I had started my first sabbatical at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, as a visiting faculty member in the Botany Department. My host was David Duffy, then the director of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit. The mission of the PCRU is to "...protect and restore Hawaii's native species, ecosystems, and cultural resources."

As a family, we were visiting Hanauma Bay about every other week. The Bay is a city park, but a state Marine Protected Area. In 1999, admission was free, but you had to pass a gauntlet of signs reminding visitors to avoid standing on the reef, don't feed the fish, and be safe. On the beach, there was a blue tarp stretched between four coconut trees, with tables and volunteers. I still remember volunteers Larry and Bob, staffing these tables and leading scheduled tours. The volunteer coordinator at that time was Jeff Kuwabara, who would often be at the admission line in the morning reminding visitors about reef etiquette, then assisiting at the volunteer table later.

Jeff pointing out highlights of the new HBEP displays in 2004.

I mention Jeff specifically because we got to know each other through these visits in 1999, and at some point he said something to the tune of, "Since you visit the bay so often, why don't you volunteer?" I took him up on his offer in 2000, and he issued me a tee shirt, a volunteer badge, and... my stint as a Hanauma Bay Education Program (a University of Hawaii Sea Grant initiative) began. A few years later, Caroline became a volunteer. Then Katelin. Eventually, Wesley was kind of "adopted" by the volunteer program (thanks to Jenn Barrett Fajardo), given that he was always out there.

Our family picture posted in the volunteer lounge at Hanauma Bay.

Certificates of appreciation received over the years.

Since 2000, we've always spent some time every year volunteering at Hanauma Bay, although recently the family representative has been me. Whenever we visit, I try to volunteer 2 times per week. 

As a family, we had numerous adventures at Hanauma Bay, and witnessed many changes. From hiking out to Toilet Bowl, to entering the bay by jumping in at Witch's Brew, more of the bay was accessible to the public in the past. In fact, when you envision the bay environment extending from Toilet Bowl on one end and Witch's Brew on the other, today only about 30% of the shoreline and bench is NOT off limits to the public. What a change!

Well, back to the family. Katelin and Wesley both developed some public speaking confidence through talking to visitors and introducing the mandatory film on safety and reef protection.

Over the years, however, we snorkeled and dove, cleaned and volunteered, and made great friends at Hanauma Bay.

Caroline collecting trash from the beach.

We had some great post-volunteer discussions with Bob, Micki, and Jack.

The formation of Hanauma Bay was evident by the ancient coral and basalt embedded in the walls and benches. "The volcanic vents that formed Hanauma Crater opened on the sea floor. Upwelling magma vaporized the ocean water and steam explosions atomized the magma into fine ash. The explosions built cones of ash, which solidified into a type of rock called ‘tuff’. The eruptions shattered the sea floor—coral reef and basalt—and scattered pieces that are now embedded in the tuff. Wave erosion eventually cut through the low, southeast wall of the crater, forming the current bay."

On one of my first dives at Hanauma Bay with Bob Kern, this honu decided to come up to me and taste my hair. It wanted to taste Bob's nose! Photo by Bob Kern.


Popular posts from this blog

Voyager of The Seas: giving guests a reason never to cruise again

The one, the only... Chobe National Park, Botswana!

The Tale of the Maui Mystery Cat