If you’re planning a trip to Oahu, Hawaii, one of the things that should be at the top of your list is kayaking. There are many great places to go out on the water and explore some amazing scenery.
It can be hard to figure out where you want to go without spending hours researching online or asking friends who have already kayaked this beautiful island.
To help make this easier for you, we’ve put together a list of our favorite seven spots for kayaking in Oahu, and we’re excited to share them with you below! Let’s get started…
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Important Things to Know About Kayaking in Oahu
Check the Weather: It’s crucial that you check the weather and surf conditions before heading out on your kayaking trip. There are extreme surf conditions that can occur at times, and if you’re not experienced in this sort of thing it’s important to know the safety precautions you should take before venturing out.
Check the Tide: Oahu’s tides can be unpredictable and change rapidly. Make sure to check the tide schedule so that you know what to expect while kayaking. You can visit Tideforecast.com for updates on Oahu’s tides.
Check the Wind: The wind can change direction suddenly, and sometimes it’s best not to go out when there is a lot of wind. Be sure to check the wind in the weather report as well before you head out.
Watch a Kayaking Safety Video: Most kayak rental companies will make you watch a safety video before renting you the kayak. Make sure to pay attention, as it’s always a good idea to practice safety before getting out on the water.
If you are a beginner kayaker, it’s recommended that you stick with the kayaking spots on the windward side so that you don’t risk getting blown out further away from shore.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s dive into our list of favorite kayaking spots in Oahu!
1. Kāneʻohe Bay
Located on the windward side of Oahu, Kāneʻohe Bay is one of the most popular places to kayak. It’s well known for its clear waters, stunning coastlines, and abundance of marine life.
The bay is beautiful, filled with coral, and it’s home to a famous sandbar known as Kāneʻohe Bay Sandbar. The sandbar is spectacular, with gorgeous white sand in the middle of the ocean. It’s an incredible and unique experience to be able to walk in the middle of the sea. During low tide, the water can be about 2-3 inches deep.
Make sure to check the forecast before you start your kayaking journey; you’ll want to go during low tide as well.
Kayaking to the sandbar should take about 30-45 minutes, depending on how fast you go or where you start. You can either do a guided tour or rent kayaks and paddle there yourself.
The sandbar is a great place to visit if you’re looking for something fun to do with family and friends! It feels private enough since it’s a long stretch of white sand, secluded, and takes some effort to get to.
Several companies offer kayak tours here, so they’re a great resource to go to if you’re looking for some guidance.
2. Coconut Island
Coconut Island, also known as Moku o Lo’e Island, is a tiny island located in Kāneʻohe Bay and is about a 25-minute kayak from Kualoa Bay.
This bay area has beautiful views and offers lots of opportunities to see the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles and reef fish while kayaking! This spot is worth checking out if you want to kayak with some beautiful scenery.
Coconut Island is an important site for Marine Biology research, so it’s definitely worth visiting.
For all you movie fans out there, yes, this is where the movie Gilligan’s Island was filmed, making it even more of a treat to visit if you’re a fan.
3. Kailua/Lanikai Beach
Lanikai is a world-famous beach located in Oahu’s windward side within Kailua Bay. This beach is known for its spectacular views, clear waters, and white sand.
The water here is so calm, making this an ideal place to kayak with family or friends. This is also one of the most romantic things to do while in Hawaii, so be sure to add it to your list! Also, if you are in search of the best beach in Oahu, this might be it for you!
You can kayak to Popoia Island (Flat Island) or the Mokulua Islands (pictured above) from Lanikai Beach. Popoia Island is a bird sanctuary and is known for its beautiful ecosystem. This island has many native birds, eels, and other beautiful ocean life you can see while kayaking around the island.
See also: Kalama Beach Park Oahu
Mokulua Islands are a great place to snorkel and swim, so bring along your bathing suits and snorkeling gear. These islands are a popular destination for kayakers, thanks to their beautiful white sand beaches and incredible views. It’s definitely worth paddling over for an afternoon picnic!
The Mokulua Islands are further out, but the views are absolutely breathtaking. On a clear day, you might see the islands of Molokai and Maui. This is a great place to spend a few hours kayaking, swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
Lanikai and Kailua Beaches are a great place to kayak with family and/or friends; we definitely recommend checking them out!
Question: Should you launch from Kailua Beach or Lanikai Beach if visiting the Mokulua Islands? The answer depends. In short, Lanikai Beach is directly parallel to the Mokulua Islands (straight shot).
However, if you plan on visiting both the Flat Island (0.5 miles) and the Mokulua Islands, Kailua Beach might be the better launching zone. Just keep in mind that it will be a long journey compared to setting out from Lanikai Beach.
4. Kahana Bay
Kahana Bay is located on Oahu’s windward coast and has amazing views. There are many areas to explore, and the scenery here will not disappoint! Kayaking the Kahana Bay will reward you with spectacular views of the Ko’olau Mountain Range.
This area of the bay is also famous for fishing and paddleboarding. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking for some adventure on the water.
For those of you who love river kayaking, the river that flows into the Kahana Bay is the answer you’re looking for to fill your adventurous needs.
There are quite a few companies that offer guided tours down the river. If you’re looking for something fun to do on your own, we suggest renting kayaks and paddling down the river yourself (if you are comfortable doing so).
It takes about an hour each way, depending on how fast you paddle. If you go during low tide, it will be much easier and shorter.
This is a great place to go if you’re looking for an easy kayaking adventure.
5. Haleiwa Beach Park
If you’re looking for a place to kayak with beautiful scenery that is not too far from the city, Haleiwa Beach Park is the perfect spot. This park is located on Oahu’s North Shore and is a great place to go for a leisurely paddle. Haleiwa Beach is definitely one of the best beaches on the North Shore of Oahu, so be sure to check it out!
Kayaking at Haleiwa Beach Park should reward you with sights of many sea turtles, colorful fish, and coral.
Haleiwa Beach Park is also one of the best places to see a sunset on Oahu, so be sure to do that after your kayaking adventure!
6. Pokai Bay Beach Park
Pokai Bay Beach Park is an excellent place for beginner kayakers. This park is located on the west side of Oahu and is a great place to paddle with the family.
The waters here are calm and the scenery is beautiful, making it a perfect spot for some relaxation. If you are lucky enough, you might even see some dolphins and whales while paddling!
If you’re looking for a place to kayak with family or friends, check out Pokai Bay Beach Park.
7. Chinaman’s Hat
If you’re looking for a spectacular kayaking adventure and some of the most beautiful views on Oahu, Chinaman’s Hat is the place for you.
Chinaman’s Hat is located in Kualoa Bay, and it’s about a 30-45 minute paddle from shore. Chinaman’s Hat is a great place to visit if you’re looking for some adventure and want to be surrounded by picturesque scenery.
I recommend this place only to advanced kayakers on account of the currents.
Oahu Kayaking Tours
If you’re looking for a guided or self-guided kayaking tour on Oahu, we’ve got you covered! Quite a few companies offer guided or self-guided kayaking tours, which vary in price and duration.
Some of the popular kayaking tours offered on Oahu are listed below. If you want to learn more about the best kayak tours on Oahu, read our other article above dedicated to discussing these tours.
The Kayaking Tour of Kailua Bay is one of the best in Oahu. It will take you around Kailua Bay on a guided or self-guided tour (depending on the option you purchase).
The tour will take about half a day and will take you to Flat Island or the Mokulua Islands. You also have the option to swim in Queen’s Bath (if you purchase this particular option).
The Kailua Twin Islands Tour is an eco-friendly 5-hour tour of Kailua and Lanikai Beaches. This tour will take you through the Mokulua Islands.
This kayaking tour is for those that want a quick and easy kayaking adventure. This tour will take you around the Kailua Bay area and is perfect for those that are short on time or just looking for a quick paddle. This tour will lead you to gorgeous views of the Ko’olau Mountain Range.
This tour is an excellent option for those looking to go on a self-guided kayaking adventure.
Kayaking in Oahu: Frequently Asked Questions
Where can you kayak on Oahu?
There are multiple ideal kayaking spots in Oahu. Some of the top favorites are Kaneohe Bay, Lanikai Beach, Kailua Beach, Kahana Bay, Haleiwa Beach Park, Chinaman’s Hat, and Pokai Bay Beach Park.
How long do most people kayak for on Oahu?
It depends on the route you choose, how long you plan on staying at the destination, and your level of paddling experience. Take as long of an adventure as you’re comfortable with!
Is kayaking safe in Hawaii?
Yes! Kayaking is safe in Oahu, but always be aware of your surroundings and practice safe paddling techniques.
Make sure to watch the tide before you go, and if you are a beginner, I would stick with kayaking on the windward side of Oahu.
What should I bring to a kayaking destination?
(1)Reef safe Sunscreen: It’s always important to protect yourself from the sun, as you will be exposed for a prolonged period. We recommend waterproof sunscreen and make sure to reapply throughout your adventure. Also, please make sure that your sunscreen is reef-safe. As an alternative to using sunscreen, you can also look into getting a snorkeling rashguard.
(2) Water: Stay hydrated throughout your kayaking trip. Having a water bottle with you will help ensure you are properly nourished throughout your adventure.
(3) Snacks: Snacks are always important, especially after all that time in the sun. Granola bars and fresh fruit always come in handy for an extra energy boost during this activity.
(4) Waterproof Camera: Capture all the memories of your kayaking adventure with a waterproof camera. This way, you can document everything you see and share it with your friends and family.
(5) Beach Bag and Towel: The best way to carry your personal belongings is with a beach bag or backpack. Once you’ve finished your adventure, have a towel ready to lay down and relax on the beach.
(6) Kayaking Shoes: If you’re kayaking in Hawaii, you’ll want to bring shoes that can get wet. Water shoes will also keep your feet protected from any sharp objects or shells on the ocean floor.
(7) Sunhat: A sunhat is a must-have to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
What should I wear when Kayaking in Oahu?
I would wear comfortable swimwear and a sun shirt. You can also bring a change of clothes to put on after your adventure.
Will I get wet kayaking?
Yes! I think it’s safe to say that you will get some water on you while kayaking. That doesn’t mean that your entire body has to get super wet (unless you are planning on getting in the water to swim or snorkel).
Is it safe to kayak to the Mokulua Islands, AKA the Mokes?
If you are a great swimmer and advanced at kayaking, then kayaking to “the Mokes” should be safe. I wouldn’t kayak there myself, knowing I am a beginner kayaker and not the best swimmer.
Can you kayak around Waikiki Beach?
Yes. We rented a kayak from the Waikiki Shore Beach Service and paddled around for a few hours.
The Wrap Up: Top Spots for Kayaking in Oahu
Happy Kayaking in Oahu! Kayaking is definitely a great way to explore the island of Oahu. With plenty of locations to choose from, you’re sure to find a spot that’s perfect for you.
Be sure to pack sunscreen, water, and snacks to make the most out of your kayaking experience. And most importantly, have fun and remember to be safe!
Until next time, Aloha!