>>>Dive inside a volcano

Dive inside a volcano

Say “aloha” to Hanauma Bay, whose beach is formed in the shape of a volcanic crater.
If Hawaii is known for anything else besides volcanoes, floral garlands, the hula and the ukulele, it’s for its tropical beaches with endless crystal-clear waters. Its islands hide treasures such as Hanauma Bay. The bay, located in the south of the island of Oahu just 10 kilometres from Waikiki, is part of an extinct volcanic crater that was flooded thousands of years ago. Volcanic eruptions and the waves themselves sculpted the bay, finally giving it its current curved appearance. It’s so special that it used to be the holiday destination for Hawaiian royalty in the 19th century. Now it’s an unmissable tourist attraction.

Lights, camera, Hawaii!

Scenes from ‘Blue Hawaii’ starring Elvis Presley, were filmed at Hanauma Bay, and was one of his biggest film successes. The island of Oahu has also been the setting for ‘The Descendants’ starring George Clooney and successful series such as ‘Magnum P.I.’, ‘Hawaii 5.0’ and ‘Lost’.

To get the best views of the bay, you have to get wet: the living coral reef and the 450 species that make up its marine life deserve more than just a quick dip. The most popular activity is snorkelling. There’s no better plan than spending the day observing the vibrant colours of the parrot fish, triggerfish, butterfly skates or any one of the rhinecanthus genus, known by the locals as ‘humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa’ (it’s more likely that you’ll bump into one in the sea than learn its name). Snorkelling doesn’t require any special skill beyond knowing how to swim. You won’t have any problem renting the necessary equipment (goggles, snorkel and flippers) on the beach itself, where beginners can also take introductory lessons. In any case it’s advisable to stay close to the coast if you’re not an experienced swimmer and stay away from the area where the waves crash onto the rocks.
The appeal of Hanauma Bay doesn’t end in the sea. During your stay, why not take a tram to the edge of the crater or put on some trainers and walk some of the hiking routes? A must-see location, although it can only be seen from afar, is the Makapuu lighthouse, built in 1909 on 600-metre-high cliffs and with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
For a well-rounded experience by land sea and air, take a ride in a helicopter. Tours are organised from Oahu that will take you to see Diamond Head, which is a volcanic cone and symbol of the islands, Waimanalo Beach, Kaneohe Bay and the historic port of Pearl Harbour.
Whether you feel like snorkelling in the peaceful waters of Hanauma Bay or if you prefer to get a tan under the Hawaiian sun, it’s advisable to get up early, especially if you’re travelling by car, because the car parks have limited spaces. When you arrive visitors must go to the Marine Education Centre and attend the showing of an explanatory video about the biodiversity of the area, which can be summed up in one sentence: “here you can look, but don’t touch”. This is because Hanauma Bay is a protected nature reserve …and the truth is, in order for paradises to continue as paradises, they have to be preserved.

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