The Mokulua Islands are two small islands off of the beautiful tropical beaches of Kailua and Lanikai on Oahu’s windward side. They are both seabird sanctuaries, and the one on the right, Mokulua Iki, is closed to the public. The one on the left, Mokulua Nui, is open to the public during daylight hours and is a popular destination for kayakers and paddle-boarders.
Kayaks or paddle boards can be conveniently rented at a shop just across the street from the beach (Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks) and then walked down on a cart (provided by the store), or at one of the other shops in Kailua if you have a car to transport them to the beach.
The launch point is the canal off of Kailua Beach Park, where the bridge is. During certain times of year, the canal runs all the way into the ocean. During dryer months, paddlers will have to carry the kayak across a stretch of sand to reach the beach. Once launched, it is a 2.5 mile paddle to reach the island and typically takes 45 minutes – 2 hours.
On very calm days, it is a fairly easy paddle. However, the wind and currents can sometimes be strong and make it a difficult paddle, particularly when you’re having to paddle directly into the wind or when the waves are coming at an angle. Although there are lifeguards at Kailua Beach, there is no lifeguard on the island so use your best judgment before heading out and be sure to go with a friend. If in doubt, ask the lifeguard or someone at the kayak rental shop what the conditions are like before you make your decision.
Kailua and Lanikai Beaches are two of the most beautiful on the entire island, and to see them from out on the ocean is a unique experience. Powder-fine white sand, crystal clear water, and towering palm trees create a perfect tropical paradise.
As you approach the island, keep your eye out for sea turtles and crabs. During the winter months, it may be possible to spot whales out in the distance. The lava and coral formations around the island make this a great snorkeling spot. Visitors can snorkel, hike the trail on the right side of the island, jump off the cliffs, or relax and enjoy the sandy beach on the west side.
Kayak to ‘da Mokes’
If you don’t have kayaks of your own, there are many places to rent them in Kailua. Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks is the located the closest to the beach and launching point.
Directions: From Honolulu, take the H1 West to the Pali Highway. Merge onto the Pali Highway (HI-61) via exit 21B. The Pali Highway will take you directly into Kailua, and become Kailua Road. Turn right to stay on Kailua Road, and follow it to the beach. Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks is across the street from the beach, in the shopping plaza across from Kalapawai Market.