Driving down the bumpy dirt road to Honolua Bay gives one the sense of stepping out of civilization and into another world. The car rocks back and forth, and its passengers resemble popping kernels of corn, thumping and bumping about. It’s almost as if they’re in Disneyland; the car slowly rolls slowly towards steep sea cliffs before the screaming freefall. But when finally approaching the edge, passengers immediately discover that this place is way better than any Disneyland!
Honolua Bay has every blue imaginable in its waters and vast ocean cliffs that block the winds, creating prime conditions for surfing, snorkeling and swimming. It’s tucked away on the northwest side of the island and belongs to the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District. This means no fishing, spearing or removing sand and rocks from the area.
Most people on a Hawaii Vacation enjoy the inside of the bay, which is more easily accessible than the outer bay. Volunteers have information booths to educate first-time visitors about the marine life and proper etiquette to snorkeling. Some of Hawaii’s most beautiful features reside in the bay. In the winter, be on the look out for migrating whales. Jump in to get a split view above and below the ocean surface, where two separate worlds exist. In the winter months, big surf stirs things up above while life below maintains its slower pace. Surfers from around the world travel to Honolua Bay for its long right-hand waves and hollow barrels. If you happen to be around during a winter swell, be sure to take up a seat on the cliff and enjoy the Hawaiian version of a colosseum.
This steep sea cliff entrance can be dangerous.
Visitors should enter through the inner bay.
Honolua Bay is about a 20-minute drive from Lahaina with plenty more photo opps along the way. Some boat tours stop at the bay for a quick snorkel or swim, but it’s best to explore Honolua on your own schedule. The bay literally means “two harbors” to describe the inner and outer bays. Enter the bay in two ways.
(1)Park along the road before the bridge (don’t leave any valuables in your cars) and then follow a forest trail for about five minutes before reaching the ocean.
(2)Drive past the bridge and up the hill before turning left down a bumpy dirt road. Park along the sea cliff for a panoramic view. But I wouldn’t recommend getting down to the ocean this way, as the trails may be very steep and unstable.