In the middle of the last insanely busy weeks, I had the opportunity to visit Oahu, Hawaii for a friend’s wedding. It’s been more than 20 years since the last time I’ve been on the island and it was time to explore as much as I could in 4 short days. In reality, it ended up that I only had about one day to myself, but I knew from the start that if there was only one activity I could do, it would be visiting Hanauma Bay.
A dear friend who has been to Oahu numerous times, highly recommended Hanauma Bay, voted the best beach of America in 2016. The people of Oahu worked hard to preserve the wildlife of the beach while still making it available to the public. As a result, this beach is the best location to go snorkeling and actually spot various fish and even sea turtles.
The park opens bright and early at 6am and closes at 6pm. There are shuttles available that offer round trip transportation but you must reserve a spot. There is free parking available but it fills up quickly so you should arrive earlier than 730am. I was determined to make it into the park so I woke up at 530am and drove 1 hour down from Kahuku to make it right when the park opened.
A little tip: if you arrive before 7am, the admission fee of $7 is waived! (Don’t hold me to that since that could change in the future). In this case, the early bird does really get the worm. Now you might be thinking, swimming at 6am? Isn’t the water freezing? Fortunately, the water is a perfect temperature, not too cold and not too warm. Arriving early also means being able to explore the entire beach without running into other snorkelers. I was able to check out the entire beach in about 2 hours.
Another tip: bring water shoes! There is a rental shop for snorkel gear and fins but I was able to swim fine without the fins. The only issue I came across was trying to carefully walk into the water without cutting my feet. Water shoes would definitely come handy as I ended up getting small cuts on almost all my toes.
Sadly, I do not have an underwater camera, but even if I did, I’m sure it would not do justice to the beauty of Hanauma Bay. I felt as if I was in Finding Nemo, watching schools of yellow fish nibble on coral, spotting rainbow colored fish and even swimming alongside a sea turtle! It was, without a doubt, the best snorkeling experience of my life.
After enjoying the beach, I headed over to the city, Honolulu, to visit one of the most popular restaurants, Marukame Udon.
With over 5000 reviews and 4.5 stars on Yelp, I knew this was the place to eat at. I’ve read that there is usually a line of people but because the food is served cafeteria-style, the wait goes by quickly. After picking out your bowl of udon, there are a la carte items you can add including vegetable and shrimp tempura, croquettes, spam and seafood musubi and even fried chicken. Even though I’ve been to Japan, Marukame Udon delivered. The kakke udon was exactly what I wanted after a long swim; hot traditional udon broth seasoned to perfection.
The udon was so tasty that I came back the next day and tried their ontama bukkake udon – another delicious bowl. This is definitely a restaurant I will be coming back to the next time I visit Oahu. Unfortunately, that was all the time I had in the city but check out my next post on good eats in the north!