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Commercial activities resuming at Hanauma Bay next year

Entry for licensed motor vehicle carriers resumes January, permitted scuba/snorkel guides in February

O‘AHU -- Entry for licensed motor vehicle carriers, commonly referred to as tour vehicles, and permitted scuba/snorkel guides will once again be allowed in the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve beginning next year.

Starting on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, licensed motor carriers with Public Utility Commission certificates may enter the commercial vehicle parking lot at Hanauma Bay. Use of the commercial lot is limited to a fifteen-minute period, with sightseeing and picture-taking passengers to remain in the upper level of the nature preserve. They are not allowed to descend to the beach area.

All vehicles utilizing the commercial lot are now required to submit an entry fee based on the capacity of their vehicle, per Ordinance 20-32. These fees do not apply to taxicabs unless the vehicle may also be operated as a licensed motor carrier. The fee structure is as follows:

  • $10 - vehicles accommodating 1-7 passengers
  • $20 - vehicles accommodating 8-25 passengers
  • $40 - vehicles accommodating 26 or more passengers

For the initial return of licensed motor vehicle carriers, the commercial lot will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. These hours are subject to change.

Parking within the visitor lot remains the same, $1 for local residents and $3 for non-locals, both of which are refundable if the visitor leaves within a fifteen-minute period.

Permitted guides operating scuba/snorkel tours will be allowed back into Hanauma Bay this coming February, with monthly and daily permits available. Annual permitting will resume in 2024.

Monthly permit applications are due on the 15th day of the month preceding the request, unless that day is a weekend or holiday. For instance, in January the deadline will be on the 17th. Five monthly permits may be issued at a time.

For daily scuba/snorkel permits, Jan. 27 is the first day applications can be accepted, as these requests are accepted the week prior. Four daily permits may be issued at a time.

Commercial activity within Hanauma Bay was restricted to City concessionaires following the reopening of the nature preserve in December 2020. The nearly nine-month pandemic-induced closure began in March 2020.

All monies collected through entry and parking fees directly funds operations at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. For more information about the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, please visit the official website at

A historically significant location for Native Hawaiians paddlers, and a favorite fishing location for some Hawaiian Royalty, Hanauma Bay was designated the state's first Marine Life Conservation District in 1967.

Its popularity grew in the 1970's and 1980's when visitor attendance peaked at an estimated 10,000 people a day. A management plan implemented in 1990 helped to mitigate this human impact by: reducing visitation, improving facilities, banning the feeding of fish, and educating bay visitors. In 2019, average daily attendance was almost 3,000 people, with nearly 845,000 tourists and residents visiting the nature preserve that year. Today, average daily attendance is roughly half of that amount as the City continues to work towards balancing the recreational and cultural needs of the community with the education and preservation mandates of this natural treasure.

In addition, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation is currently exploring revisions to existing rules governing commercial activities at City parks across O‘ahu. DPR anticipates these rules to be ready for public discussion by spring 2023. Mahalo for your continued patience during that time.

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