Ahu’olaka, also known as the Kaneohe Sandbar, is a visually stunning, family-friendly destination on the island of Oahu. The sandbar is located on the east side of the island which is more commonly known as the Windward side.
The sandbar is extremely wide and large. It is about 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and 3 miles (4.8 km) long. You see the lush, rolling, monumental Ko’olau Mountains on one side and the vast oceanic horizon on the other. The sandbar itself is a ridge of white, coarse sand that becomes visible during low tide. Learn more about the science behind the sandbar.
Although you can take a boat or stand-up paddleboard out to the sand bar, we opt to kayak to the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar for these and many more reasons:
- You have full control of your schedule (not possible with most boat tours or similar group experiences).
- Kayaks are much more beginner-friendly and more stable than stand-up paddleboards, especially when there is any type of wind.
- Kaneohe Bay is kayak friendly with no large waves (due to Kaneohe Bay’s barrier reef) and a prevailing breeze throughout the afternoon that pushes towards the shoreline (rather than out to sea!).
Tandem Sit-on-top kayaks are the way to go in Hawaii. They make it easy to hop in and out of whether you’re on the shoreline or floating in the bay. They are plastic and completely sealed, so they will float even when they are upside-down, although since there are self-draining holes in the kayak, you are guaranteed to get wet.
How it works
Your adventure starts at our Kailua storefront where we’ll have your kayaks and gear all set and ready to go. We’ll send you all the meeting location details in your confirmation email, so no need to write this all down– we’ve got you covered!
Meet us at our Kailua Storefront
We’ll provide all of the necessary gear and help you strap the kayaks to your vehicle before you drive down to your launch point at He’eia Kea Boat Harbor.
He’eia Kea Boat Harbor
This pier is widely used by visitors looking to head to the sandbar so chances are, you won’t be alone when you arrive. The drive itself is 4.8 miles, about 10min from the Nursery. Check Google Maps for Directions
Where to Launch Kayaks and Park at He’eia Kea Boat Harbor
It may seem a bit confusing when you first arrive at the He’eia Kea Boat Harbor with all of the trailer parking and ramps, so we provide a map that’s included in the confirmation email with where to unload your kayaks, park and launch the kayaks.
Please avoid launching kayaks at the boat ramp areas. These launch locations are reserved for boats coming and going from the harbor. Kayaks launch near the entrance of the harbor and there is usually plenty of space to unload the kayaks and gear and then park your vehicle in the public parking stalls for passenger vehicles (as marked on the map).
The nice thing about the kayak launch location is that there is a spigot for rinsing off your feet and a shower connected to the canoe club area. It’s also just across from the restroom.
Kayaking to the Kaneohe Sandbar
The paddle from the He’eia Kea Boat Harbor to the Kaneohe Sandbar takes about 45 minutes. The waters are a deep teal and you can enjoy the gradient change from dark blue-green all the way to a brilliant white as you make your way closer to the bar.
Kaneohe bay itself is protected by an array of coral reefs so the waters are calm compared to open ocean kayaking. Once you get to the bar you’ll notice that the clouds pass right over your head and even though it may have been raining on shore, out on the sandbar it is sunny!
Whether you choose one of our 4-hour time options available throughout the day or the all-day option, keep in mind that there is no shade on the sandbar, so wear sunscreen, hats, and beach cover-ups.
Our Kaneohe Sandbar self-guided package comes with a drybag and snorkeling gear so feel free to bring your own beverages, snacks, sunscreen, and protective clothing to keep you comfortably adventuring all throughout the day.
Reserve your spot online
Book the Kaneohe Sandbar Self-guided Kayak Experience
Not ready to book? Learn More about our Kaneohe Sandbar Self-guided Kayak Experience
Pro tips: Typically low tide occurs in the morning but you can check it out for yourself: Tide charts for Oahu. Another small piece of wisdom: visiting during high tide has its benefits. If you like to snorkel or swim, the chances of encountering a sea turtle or other marine life are huge during high tide. Imagine a shallow water encounter with a sea turtle with white sand and pristine water as your backdrop!
To learn more about the science behind the sandbar: http://cramp.wcc.hawaii.edu/Downloads/Publications/OD_JOKIELs_Scientific_Guide_to_K-Bay.pdf