Experience ocean kayaking to Mokolii on our Chinaman's Hat Self-Guided Kayak Tour*. We provide everything you need to have a great and safe time out on the water. You'll get kayaks, seat backs, life vests, dry bags safety equipment and private instruction before you set out on your own to experience Chinaman's Hat. Experience this one of a kind Oahu adventure with plenty of epic views. We suggest this tour for individuals who are experienced in kayaking or are comfortable kayaking in the ocean.
*We conveniently provide the kayaks and beach gear right next to the beach so you can easily have a great time out on Mokoli'i after we provide you with on-shore instruction, and helpful info.
“We were looking for a non-tourist bus experience, wanted to explore and be guided for a fun day. It was fantastic”…”Would highly recommend for teenage families, outdoorsy mature couples and anyone with a sense of adventure.”
“Wow – the view is amazing! So glad we did this – we really felt like we accomplished a lot that day”…”the hike/CLIMB was challenging, but very rewarding!”
“What a great time we had on the tour! We had a beautiful morning and got to hike to the top of Chinaman’s Hat! Fabulous view of the mountains. Our guide David was very nice, very helpful and lots of fun.”
On the Chinaman’s Hat Self-Guided Kayak Tour, you’ll experience the adventure of kayaking on the ocean and get a great view of the Ko’olau Mountain Range and Kaneohe Bay on the East side of Oahu.
Chinaman’s Hat, more formally called Mokoli’i, is a basalt islet just off the Windward coast of Oahu. It’s between a 15-30 minute paddle out to Mokoli’i, then you can choose to hike around the islet or up to one of the defined trails. Be sure to stay on the trail and pick up any litter. The island is also a bird sanctuary and has heaps of fluffy baby chicks in the springtime. Please respect the local wildlife. Look, but don’t touch them, they are cute and fluffy but depend on the seclusion of the island to keep them safe.
The whole experience of paddling out to Chinaman’s hat as well as hiking up and back takes about 3 hours without rushing things. If you do end up thinking it’s going to take longer, shoot us a text or call us so we can adjust our schedule.
The views you’ll get will be reminiscent of movies like Jurassic Park, Battleship, 50 First Dates and many more since plenty of movies were filmed in Kualoa Ranch, just across the way.
The driver will meet you at the tour location near Kualoa Regional Park and Kualoa Ranch. The exact meeting location will be provided in confirmation and reminder emails. Expect the guide to arrive at or a little before the tour reservation time.
Our drivers often use a blue or grey pickup truck with a kayak trailer with orange kayaks on it, so keep an eye out for them. The driver will be there at or a little before the tour reservation time.
You will be required to sign a liability waiver.
You’ll get a personal kayaking lesson, safety demo, description of the route and be helped into your kayaks.
The water is clear and surprisingly shallow, so you’ll be able to see that turquoise blue hue that Hawaii is known for. Normally there are small rolling waves or no waves at all due to the reef that extends for a good 100 feet or so from the shore. This makes it easy to launch your kayaks and not have to battle large waves to get out to Mokoli’i.
You land on the west side of the island in a nice little rocky inlet. Be sure to have your shoes ready because you’ll be setting off to explore the island next. There are two options for hiking Chinaman’s Hat:
Hike around the circumference of Mokoli’i – This is the easiest route with the least elevation change. You will get a chance to check out the secluded mini cove and maybe some tide pools if the tide is out. It’s one of our favorite places to hang out. Although this route is easier, it’s still rocky and uneven, so wear good shoes and watch your step. You often see sea turtles off the coast of Chinaman’s hat, so keep an eye out for them while you take in the view.
Hike up Mokoli’i – This is the most popular route, but also the most challenging. The goal is to get a better view and the trail up does a good job of getting you there quickly. It’s steep and at times slippery and plenty rocky. Be prepared to use both your hands and feet to climb and get dirty. You can stop ascending at any time if things seem too challenging and turn around to enjoy the view. If you are up to the challenge, you can hike/climb all the way to the top. The top portion of the islet is tough basalt rock, but be sure to always test your footing and handholds because you have to do a bit of bouldering to get all the way to the top. When you are close to the top, we like taking the path that forks to the left and then climbs up the wall on the right side. It’s a lot easier. We’ll get you more details on that in person.
Basically, whatever route you choose, you’ll have an amazing view of the windward coast from Mokoli’i.
The best time to do this tour is in the morning. If you are an early riser, you can call to schedule a tour before our regular 9 am tour start time depending on guide availability, so feel free to give us a call. On perfect days, the ocean is completely flat like glass and you can see the coral and fish below you while you are kayaking.
Ocean conditions can change quickly and kayaking can dangerous. That said, this is one of the safest Oahu kayak tours in the ocean under normal or ideal conditions. We advise children over 12 years old to do this tour, but younger children may join the tour, especially if conditions are nice. Since it’s the windward side of the island, it’s almost always breezy and sometimes very windy. During summer months (End of May – beginning of Sept) conditions are calmer and more predictable and the area is much more accessible to a beginner or in-experienced kayakers.
If there are storms or high winds we will notify you as soon as we know and can re-schedule the tour or offer a full refund.
Feel free to check out our Cancellation Policy for more info.