Kayaking out to Oahu’s Mokulua Islands

Mokulua Islands
All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg

The extended weekend we decided to visit Oahu on the spur of the moment was cold. And stormy. Which means that the shorts, T-shirts, and bathing suits we packed didn’t really keep out the weather. So what’s a tourist to do when faced with rain and wind? Kayak out to Moku Nui Island, which is one of Oahu’s Mokulua Islands, for a day of tide pool exploration and snorkeling. If you can’t beat the weather, you may as well get soaked.

Mokulua Islands
All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg

The typical weekend crowd that makes the long haul from Kailua Beach out to the Mokulua Islands ranges from 10 to 25 people at a time, making the rocky, wave-soaked bird sanctuary a quiet place to take a nap, enjoy lunch, and scramble around the slippery rock formations. On a stormy day, the waves smashing into rock made for a pretty epic show, and after a tough paddle out into the wind and waves, we enjoyed a slow tow-in, hanging on to our kayaks and snorkeling above the amazing reefs below. If you’re in Oahu, keep your surfboard at home one afternoon in exchange for this memorable day trip.

All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg
All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg

What: A day kayaking trip out to explore Moku Nui Island, one of two land masses a few miles offshore from Kailua Beach in Oahu.

How to get there: Launch your boats from Kailua Beach if you’re lucky enough to have a private kayak on the island. If you’re renting a kayak from Twogood Kayaks (134B Hamakua Drive, Kailua, Oahu 96734), which seems to be the go-to rental destination, take H-1 West from Waikiki to Highway 61. Head over the mountains and turn right on Hamakua Drive. The kayak rental shop will be on the left side after the first intersection. They’ll be able to give you directions to a good launching point and will take your kayaks to the beach for you.

All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg
All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg

What to bring: A dry bag, a waterproof camera, watershoes, a bathing suit and boardshorts, sunglasses, and SPF. Bring your own snorkeling gear if you feel like exploring what’s up under the surface during your trip home.

Do: Be sure to bring sturdy and protective water shoes with good grip for walking round the rocky parts of the island.

All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg
All photos of the kayaking trip to the Mokulua Islands are by Johnie Gall and Brandon Scherzberg

Don’t: Enter the roped off sections—they’re there to keep you out and the birds happy. Don’t be that tourist.

Follow Johnie Gall on Twitter.

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