Four people getting on kayaks at Lanikai Beach to the Mokolua Islands.

5 Best Kayak Tours on Oahu You Need to Try

The island of Oahu features the commercial city of Honolulu and is among the most populated Hawaiian Islands. It’s no wonder why it is also nicknamed “The Gathering Place.”

Oahu is not the largest island, but it boasts some of the best kayaking destinations. From the dense jungle of the Anahulu River in Haleiwa to the spectacular Mokulua Islands, you will always have something to look forward to when paddling around the island.

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Our top picks for the best kayaking tours and rental companies on Oahu are:

Why Kayak in Oahu?

Kayaking is one of the best ways of exploring Oahu while minimizing your carbon footprint. It requires minimal experience or skill and is also a great way to get some exercise.

Oahu has a balmy temperature of 75-85°F year round. You won’t need a wet suit and can easily kayak in beachwear. The amazing marine wildlife you will see will be a combination of delicious game fish like the ahi tuna, tropical fish like the  Humuhumunukunukuapua`a, and the Hawaiian monk seal.

1. Kayaking Tour of Kailua Bay with Lunch, Oahu

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars — With more than 900 positive REVIEWS

Duration: Half day

Operated By: Kailua Beach Adventures

Description: You can choose between a guided or a self-guided tour for kayaking around the islands of Kailua Bay. This is a half-day eco-adventure that involves paddling to the Mokulua Islands or Popoia Island (Flat Island). There is nothing better than spending your day enjoying the stunning island views from the water.

This kayaking tour includes visiting bird sanctuaries and snorkeling with green sea turtles before enjoying a well-deserved and relaxing lunch on the beach. The best part about this tour is that only a small group is taken out at a time. The price includes lunch and snorkeling equipment. You can also choose to visit a freshwater pool in a lava tube on Mokulua Island.

The kayak shop has competent staff that will outfit you with the equipment you will need. Don’t miss out on the safety briefing and kayaking instructions if you are a beginner. If you want, you can choose a self-guided tour as well. You can return to the shop when your kayaking time is up.

A couple kayaking to the Mokulua Islands from Lanikai Beach.

Why we love this tour: This is one of the few tours that include lunch and almost every piece of equipment you could possibly think of. The team allows tourists to soak in the beauty of Hawaii in an eco-friendly manner.

What’s included: Use of kayak, island landing permits, professional guide (if required), safety instructions and briefing, dry bag, showers, locker, snorkeling equipment, gratuities, lunch, and drinks

What customers are saying:

“If you are comfortable with kayaking, then the self-guided tour is the greatest option for you. The package includes a cooler, lunch, a dry bag, life jackets, permits, and the kayak. We did both the Flat Island and the Twin Islands. The view was phenomenal while kayaking to the twin islands. The staff at the shop were very helpful.”

— Anna, TOUR REVIEW

2. Kailua 2-Hour Guided Kayaking Excursion, Oahu

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars — With more than 170 positive REVIEWS

Duration: 2 hours (approximately)

Operated By: Kailua Beach Adventures

Description: Hawaii has an abundance of sea life which can be witnessed on this guided kayaking tour. You will visit the prime locations of Kailua Bay with the dormant volcanoes of Koʻolau Mountain Range as the backdrop. You will have access to shower facilities, snorkeling gear, and boogie boards after lunch. If you are lucky, you may be able to swim with a gang of sea turtles. Kailua Bay gives a beautiful view of Lanikai and Kailua.

Two couples kayaking along the Kailua Bay with gorgeous ocean views.

Why we love this tour: This is a relaxed guided tour. Your day will not be packed with too many destinations. You will kayak to beautiful spots in Kailua Bay, where you can park your kayaks and enjoy a nice lunch. We especially like the use of boogie boards, bikes, and snorkeling equipment after lunch.

What’s included: Light refreshments, use of snorkeling equipment, use of bikes, Environmental Management Charge (Reef Tax), and lunch

What customers are saying:

“We really enjoyed our kayak trip. 2 hours was a good amount of time for us as beginner kayakers and we enjoyed the information that the tour guides gave. It was really nice to have access to bikes and snorkeling gear after our kayak trip. We were able to make a full day out of it!”

— Jessica, TOUR REVIEW

3. Kaneohe Bay Kayak Rental (Two-person kayak)

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars — With more than 50 positive REVIEWS

Duration: 4 hours (approximately)

Operated By: Kama’aina Kayak and Snorkel Eco-Ventures

Description: This is a half-day rental that lets you discover the beauty of Kaneohe Bay by kayak. You will get your gear at the He’eia State Park, which is where you can head out to the pristine waters for hours of relaxation and adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for green sea turtles, dolphins, and other local wildlife while you paddle along the calm waters.

You will need to bring your own snorkeling equipment to explore the underwater world. The best part about this tour is that it is not guided. You can use the two-person kayak and set your own pace to explore the area. In addition, the proceeds from the rental are used for funding a children’s organization and the park.

Why we love this tour: You don’t need to transport your kayaks or equipment when you choose the Kaneohe Bay Kayak Rental. Everything will be set up for you and ready for you to head out on the water. We also like the fact that the proceeds help in park restoration and maintenance. While the tour doesn’t offer snorkeling gear, you can ask for it along with ice coolers, waterproof dry bags, and sand anchors for an additional cost.

What’s included: Life jackets, paddles, waterproof map, comfort backrests, and personalized briefing.

What customers are saying:

“AHHHMAZING!! This was the best thing we did on our trip! The operators gave us a map and suggestions on where to shore up and snorkel. Definitely glad we rented the anchor! The reefs out there are beautiful! We saw so many colorful fish and a sea turtle chilling on the edge of one of the reefs! The sinkholes were so cool too. Really can’t say more good about Kaneohe bay and the folks that work at the park!”

— Julie, TOUR REVIEW

4. Tandem (2 Person) Kayak Rental – Full Day

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars — With more than 10 positive REVIEWS

Duration: 4 hours (approximately)

Operated By: Sun and Salt Adventures Hawaii

Description: This is a half-day kayak rental that allows quiet exploration of Kailua Bay. The tour is not guided, and you can set your own pace. The ocean becomes your playground with this kayak. You can paddle out to the nearshore islands, hidden caves, and secluded beaches for an adventure that takes you away from the crowds. Don’t forget to plan your voyage using a satellite map and the office guide so that you can get the most out of your time.

Basic paddling instructions will be provided, and you don’t need any prior experience to head out on your own. The team offers salient advice on the best places to visit. They will let you know the most scenic beaches and islands that promise tons of adventure for active travelers. You can choose to get additional permits and equipment for paddling to Popoia and Mokulua Islands.

With that said, this is a tandem kayak which means you will need to have a car. SUVs and convertibles can easily transport up to 3 kayaks at a time. The team will show the best areas for snorkeling. They will go over the satellite map with you, so you know which places to visit and the easiest route to take. You can ask any safety questions you may have. 

Why we love this tour: The best thing about this tour is the option to avail a free and basic paddling lesson. The team will show easy and simple techniques for loading the kayaks on the vehicle.

What’s included: Kayak and paddles, soft racks, and straps for transportation

What customers are saying:

“Everyone was so nice and helpful, and the trip was so exciting and breathtaking. The Mokulua Islands are unlike any others!”

— Pierce, TOUR REVIEW

5. North Shore Adventure with Waimea Waterfall

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars — With more than 10 positive REVIEWS

Duration: 8 hours (approximately)

Operated By: Karma Tour Hawaii

Description: This is an exciting kayaking tour that allows you to discover the adventures of the North Shore. You can choose between kayaking and paddleboarding in Haleiwa. You can also take a guided hike to Waimea Falls. This is a great spot for fishing. You can also taste some locally grown chocolates and coffee.

The North Shore offers epic views of sprawling mountains, beaches, and jungles (the jungles are not dangerous like the Amazon or Australia, so you don’t have to worry about losing your life – but there are some dangers, so you should inquire about that with the guide).

There is free pickup from accommodation included with this tour. You can choose to either paddleboard on your own or be part of a guided tour. The guided tour will take you to Waimea, which features some of the region’s most beautiful waterfalls. There are many white sandy beaches on the North Shore where you can enjoy a nice long stroll.

Why we love this tour: We love this tour for its sheer simplicity and breathtaking scenic beauty. You won’t be disappointed whether you choose to paddle in Haleiwa or kayak to Waimea. You also get free pick-up and drop-off, which is a very nice touch.

What’s included: Pickup and drop-off to Honolulu hotels, hike to Waimea Falls, kayak or paddleboard

What Customers are Saying:

Wonderful time! We enjoyed a stop at a local coffee shop on our way. Waimea Valley was lush with tropical plants, flowers, and wildlife. The waterfall flowed into a basin and was refreshing to dip into after the hike through the grounds. Our tour guide was gracious, accommodating, and informative! Thanks, Hema, for a wonderful trip!

— Lynn, TOUR REVIEW

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you kayak around Oahu?

You cannot leave Oahu without a kayaking tour, whether you choose to be led by an expert or go on a self-guided tour. The island provides calm waters, which are perfect for beginners. You should pick spots on Oahu’s windward side to stay safe. There are several amazing kayaking spots in Oahu, making it the perfect destination.

How long does it take to kayak around Oahu?

There have been a few brave and adventurous souls that have circumnavigated Oahu on a kayak. All you need is the right camping gear and provisions for this week-long journey that typically starts from Kailua. You should be prepared to experience the dense jungle of the Anahulu River in Haleiwa and the warm, calm waters in Waikiki. There are several shorter half-day kayaking tours that are more preferable for tourists.

How long does it take to kayak to the sandbar on Oahu?

It can take up to an hour to paddle to the sandbar. However, the effort is worth it. You don’t need to paddle the entire way. You can jump in when the water is shallow enough to walk. There are beautiful reef patches and wildlife here, making snorkeling gear a must. You cannot miss the green sea turtle when in Kaneohe Bay.

How much does it cost to go kayaking in Oahu?

The more independent kayak adventure tours in Oahu start from $99 per person. Taking this into account, if you want the knowledge of a kayak guide, it may cost $179 per person.

The Wrap-Up

Oahu is a beautiful destination for kayaking. There are many amazing spots on the island to explore. You can choose to either go on a guided tour or a self-guided tour.

Our top five favorite tours include:

Mahalo for reading our post. Until next time, Aloha, and happy kayaking on Oahu!

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