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Edged by a 2,000-foot beach, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a natural draw for first-time visitors to Oahu, as well as seasoned travelers. It’s the state’s first designated Marine Life Conservation District, and as such, aims to educate all who pass through its gates via a short walk-through exhibit and informational video that encourages all to become stewards for the fragile beauty that is the living reef.

The scenic bay is a remnant of the island’s volcanism and is home to abundant marine life painted in all the colors of the rainbow. See schools of vibrant butterfly fish; black-striped manini, or convict tang; the aptly named trumpetfish; pastel-colored surgeonfish; humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii’s state fish; multi-colored parrotfish; and so much more. Restrooms, showers are available bayside. Fees: $1 per vehicle, $7.50 per person, 808-396-4229. Tip: Go early to avoid long lines and a full lot. 

You can avoid the parking hassles and opt for a snorkel outing with a tour that can get you quickly in and out.