When visiting Hanauma Bay, be an informed and responsible reef steward.

Images of Hanauma Bay, coral, marine life

Coral is alive and very fragile. Rocks submerged in the bay provide hard surfaces for algae to grow on, providing food for many of the bay’s inhabitants. Walking, standing or sitting on live rock can damage algae affecting the carrying capacity of the bay. Additionally, coral is very sharp and full of bacteria. It can easily cut or puncture skin and has potential for infection. Stay safe and keep our reef healthy by standing only in sandy areas.

Feeding marine life can be detrimental to the bay’s inhabitants. Coral has a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, a plant like organism living in the coral tissue. Zooxanthellae, like all plants, need sunlight to undergo photosynthesis thereby producing food for the coral. In return the coral provides nutrients to zooxanthellae in the form of waste products. Feeding marine life adds nutrients to the bay, clouding the water, making it difficult for sunlight to penetrate deep into the water column. As a result corals don’t receive necessary food from the zooxanthellae, impacting the corals fitness.

Some marine organisms like the hermit crab cannot make their own shell. As organisms grow, they need to replace their shell with larger one’s to provide refuge from predators. Fragmented pieces of coral and shells are also broken down by physical, chemical, and biological processes creating the beautiful beaches Hawaii is renowned for. Collecting of anything at the nature preserve is prohibited.

Smoking on the beach is illegal. Cigarette butts are the number one item found during beach clean-ups. When washed into the water, they become marine debris, releasing toxins that can be harmful to marine organisms. Marine debris is a serious issue facing coastal and ocean resources globally. A clear plastic bag floating in the water looks very much like a sea jelly a favored prey item of sea turtles. Sea turtles or other types of marine organisms may injest the debris causing health problems or even death. Please dispose of rubbish appropriately.


Learn more about the Hanauma Bay Education Program.


Hanauma Bay Education Program
100 Hanauma Bay Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96825
Phone: (808) 397-5840
Email: hanauma@hawaii.edu