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The award-winning Hanauma Bay Education Program is administered by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program. Approximately 800,000 annual visitors to Hanauma Bay are educated on the value of marine resources and reef etiquette. A strong team of volunteer docents make this significant education accomplishment possible. The Hanauma Bay Education Program also educates visiting schools and hosts marine and conservation related evening presentations for the public.


The University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) Hanauma Bay Education Program was created in order to educate the public about Hawai’i’s marine environment, thereby enhancing appreciation and promoting understanding and stewardship of Hanauma Bay. This ties into Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s mission, which is to promote the understanding of marine and coastal resources in the state, region and nation through research, extension, education and communications efforts.

Green sea turtle underwater on the cover of Ka Pili Kai

Read more about the Hanauma Bay Education Program in this special edition of Ka Pili Kai magazine (Volume 37, Number 2, Summer 2015).


The City and County of Honolulu’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve has always been reveled for its beautiful, serene surroundings. It is home to some of the most colorful, unique marine life in the world, and because of its declaration as Hawai’i’s first Marine Life Conservation District in 1967, it is one of the premier snorkeling locations in the main Hawaiian Islands.

Over the years Hanauma Bay’s popularity grew to gigantic proportions. It became known as must-see visitor destination for the island of Oahu. During peak periods, the nature preserve saw as many as 10,000 visitors each day. The bay was heavily impacted by overuse and a lack of knowledge of how to protect such an ecosystem.

The City and County of Honolulu and a grassroots organization consisting of concerned citizens decided something needed to be done. In 1990, an 8-point management plan was initiated which decreased the number of visitors to approximately 3,000 – 3,500 per day, yet problems persisted due to a lack of understanding of how to protect this valuable resource.

The University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program followed the plight of Hanauma Bay with the intent of initiating a beach-site education program aimed at promoting conservation among the visiting public. In 1990, the same year that the City & County restrictions went into effect, UH Sea Grant was asked to administer the education program to help educate visitors and the local community on how to protect the unique and fragile environment. This, coupled with limiting visitor access, evolved as the two key methods in preserving the Bay. It is now seen as a successful example of balancing the needs of the expanding visitor industry with conserving natural resources.

Hanauma Bay Education Program Logo

Learn more about the Hanauma Bay Education Program.


Hanauma Bay Education Program
100 Hanauma Bay Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96825
Phone: (808) 397-5840