Skip to main content


By Alan Hong, Hanauma Bay Manager Emeritus (re-posted from a 2007 FOHB Newsletter)

Liz Kumabe from our Education Program recently showed me the report from an activities study done in Hanauma Bay in 1964. The data reminded me of how our way of thinking has changed when faced with a massively growing population and rapidly diminishing natural resources.

Older kama’aina have fond memories of parking on the beach, picnicking, camping, fishing, and spearing in Hanauma Bay. For many of them, the conservation restrictions, the crowd control measures, the smoking ban, the admission fee, the construction of an Education Center and required viewing of an orientation video are changes that make them long for the good old days.

Here’s some data from those “Good old days”. The survey was done on two weekends in June of 1964, and gives a daily average of weekend activities found in Hanauma Bay. This type of data helps refresh our memory as to how we once treated this place.

  • Mean number of persons with skin diving gear 121
  • Mean number of persons with SCUBA gear 7
  • Mean number of persons with spear guns 45
  • Mean number of persons with fishing poles 51
  • Mean number of persons with dip and throw nets 15
  • Mean number of persons with hammers or crowbars 7
  • Mean number of persons bow fishing or squidding 3

Yes, it was not unusual back then for ocean users to carry hammers or crowbars. From observations, the study went on to estimate the number of coral heads removed on weekends as 468 per year. The weekend removal of fish was estimated as 1,092 per year.
In this day and age, it is difficult to imagine a Hanauma Bay without the conservation designation that gives us the abundant marine life, the crowd control measures that limit congestion, the smoking ban that gives us clean air and sand, the admission fee that makes us self sufficient, and the Education Center and video that enhances our preservation.

This year marks forty years since Hanauma Bay became Hawaii’s first Marine Life Conservation District and the fifth year since the grand opening of the our Education Center. These landmarks will be highlighted by several educational activities this summer.

As we celebrate all the good changes that have occurred at Hanauma Bay, let’s take some time to acknowledge that these changes would not have happened were it not for the vision of dedicated people who were willing to campaign a needed cause in the face of a society opposed to change.