Students dive into hands-on training at Hanauma

By Lynn Nakagawa.

The Hanauma Bay Education Program offers the opportunity to become interpretive guides at the bay. This February, three UH Manoa students participated in the program, which occurs quarterly.

Through the Hanauma Bay Education Program, three UH Manoa students are extending their love for marine life and learning.

Every Saturday this February, Nicole Frazier, Madison Kosma and Jenny Bernier, along with others interested in becoming volunteers, dedicate their mornings to studying topics such as coral reef ecology and geology of southeast O`ahu.

They also make it out of the classroom, participating in educational hikes and snorkeling.

This past Saturday the group hiked to the Toilet Bowl, a pool formed by centuries of waves carving its way through the lava rock. The pool rises and falls with the tide, similar to a toilet bowl flushing.

“We get to do a lot of things that tourists don’t get to see,” said Nicole Frazier, an environmental studies major.

“Today we went out to the Toilet Bowl and it was just beautiful. It’s just untouched marine life.”

Those in the program are training to become interpretive guides. As guides, they work at the information desk in the visitor center, at the theater where visitors watch an orientation film, and at the beach information kiosk along the bay.

For Kosma, marine biology major, one of the highlights of the program is that it’s free.

“It’s a free education, which is not very common. Usually education is very expensive,” she said.

Kosma wanted to apply her studies in marine biology outside of the classroom.

“I just wanted to get out of the books and the library and actually get involved in it. I’ve found the best way to learn is to get the knowledge and be able to teach it,” she said.

For Jenny Bernier, a global environmental science major, volunteering seemed like a natural decision.

“Hanauma Bay was the first place that I came when I was here in Hawaii. I really like it, I really like to snorkel and I really like fish. So I decided to learn as much as I could about Hawaii’s fish and reef system,” said Bernier, who is originally from New York.

The last Saturday of February focused on how to deal with difficult people and featured a guided snorkel with Alan Hong, the park manager.

“You have to handle all types of races and walks of life. People who are impatient and have to wait in long lines,” said Gavin Iwai, Education Program Assistant.

Iwai began working at Hanauma Bay as an undergraduate student at UH and has been involved there for six years now.

The education program’s mission is to enhance appreciation and promote understanding and stewardship of Hanauma Bay and Hawaii’s marine environment through public education. Founded in 1990, the program is administered by the UH Sea Grant Extension Service and is supported by the City and County of Honolulu.

The training program occurs quarterly and will resume this May.

Interested volunteers are encouraged to have a familiarity with or interest in Hawaii’s marine environment, customer service experience, and foreign language skills.

For more information, contact Morgan Mamizuka, volunteer program coordinator at