I started my journey to Mokoli’i island by renting a kayak from Active Oahu Tours. The Booking process was simple. I chose the activity I wanted on activeoahutours.com and then chose the 3-hour time slot availability that worked for me. After booking, I was sent an email with a waiver to sign, the meeting location, and other helpful information like a reminder to wear sunscreen and to bring shoes–advice I wished I had headed to. Active Oahu Tours provides Life Jackets, seatbacks, paddles, safety equipment, and a dry bag which in hindsight, was the only thing that kept my phone and other belongings safe when they fell into the water. I met the tour guide at the location that was included in the email and they had all the equipment ready for me to launch after giving me a few kayaking pointers. After I paddled back in, the guide was there ready to load everything up.
The experience was memorable and the process was seamless, something I attribute to Active Oahu Tour’s preparedness, thorough communication, and local knowledge of the area. In hindsight, applying sunscreen beforehand made my experience more enjoyable because I was not worrying about getting burned. It is also worthwhile to stop at different points along the hike to admire the different vantage points of the Ko’olau Mountain range. I recommend packing your belongings in a dry bag to protect them from getting wet. Looking back, I wish I had brought shoes to wear once I had got to the island because it would have made the hike more comfortable. Any concerns I had, however, were overturned by my excitement as I charted my course to Mokoli’i.
Ocean Kayaking to Mokoli’i (Chinaman’s Hat)
The sun reflected upon the glimmering water casting shadows that danced across the surface. As I neared closer to the island, I understood why it was considered one of the most sacred places, even a dwelling place of kings and queens during ancient times. In fact, if a passerby failed to lower their sails as they passed the island, the punishment could have been death. The magnificent landscape and ridges of the island grew sharper as I kayaked over the far edge of Kaneohe Bay–the erosional remnants of the former caldera of the Ko’olau volcano that had cataclysmically slid into the Pacific Ocean.
I was halfway to Mokoli’i when I decided to cool off in the water before making the last stretch. I was too distracted by how soothing the water felt on my parched skin to notice that my belongings had fallen into the water alongside me. Luckily, my belongings were preserved by the dry bag Active Oahu Tours had provided.
Landing and Hiking Mokoli’i
I docked my kayak at the base of the island and set off with my backpack to explore the island. My bare feet were no match for the rocky ground, and at times I had to quickly hop from one rock to another to escape the scorching Earth. Despite my lack of footwear, I was compelled to trek on chasing the breathtakingly beautiful views.
There were a few points where the hike was more of a rock climb. Ropes are installed to help the traveler ascend up the steep rocky edges, but the climb should be taken at one’s own risk being mindful of one’s ability.
The 360 view of Kualoa regional park was blissfully rewarding. Surrounded by the sea, I could see a view of the East shore of Oahu from a new vantage point. I sat at the top admiring the scenic view. I had found the perfect little cave cut out from the face of the island where I refueled and replenished with water and a sandwich I had packed–careful not to leave any trace behind.
Hiking around the back side of Mokoli’i
After I made my way down, I traveled around the base of the mountain where I saw a group of wedge-tailed shearwater birds —the home and place of refuge for the only species of bird that nests on Mokoli’i. I was in good company during my walk with the island’s green foliage and the myriad of flowers that lace the island.
Unbeknownst to me, a delightful surprise awaited me just on the other side of the island. A nook had created space for a little cove where waves crash on a strip of sand. I swam into the ocean and let the waves lull me back and forth. I watched as water poured into the tide pools and receded back into the ocean as quickly as it came. I relaxed on the beach for a while, taking time to do some yoga on the beach.
I went back around to where I docked my kayak where the ocean is calm enough to snorkel around the reef. As I dipped my head into the water, I felt like a spectator watching a theatrical performance as schools of fish weaved in and out through the reef.
Takeaways From my Mokolii Kayaking Adventure
Kayaking to Mokoli’i island was a memorable experience. The 3-hour experience was adequate time to enjoy a leisurely paddle to the island, explore the nooks and crannies of Mokoli’i, and snorkel around the reef. My experience was enriched by understanding the impressive geological evolution and sociocultural history of Mokoli’i. Active Oahu Tours also contributed to my positive experience by providing excellent service. The guide had all the equipment ready when I arrived and was eager to answer any questions I had. Now as I drive past Kaneohe Bay, I look out at Mokoli’i with a deeper admiration remembering the delightful afternoon I had spent there.