Guide to Kayaking to the Mokes: Mokulua Islands Adventure
The Mokes, or Mokulua Islands are two islets off the windward coast of Oahu, near Lanikai Beach. Both of the islands are part of the State Seabird Sanctuary. You can kayak to the large island, Moko Nui, and explore the beach and perimeter of the island. It is important to note that Moko Nui is not accessible to the public on Sunday, so make sure to plan your kayaking adventure to the Mokes for a different day. The smaller island, Moko Iki cannot be accessed by visitors.
Book a Guided Tour to the Mokes
If you don’t feel comfortable navigating on your own you could book this Guided Kayak Tour to the Mokes. A tour is a great option if you don’t have a car so you don’t have to transport the kayak to the launch point on your own. This tour includes a professional guide, snorkeling equipment, picnic lunch, island landing fees, and the kayak equipment. The guided tour will allow you to learn more about the marine life and history of the islands.
Kailua Twin Island Guided Kayak Tour
Another option is to book this sailing adventure to the Mokulua Islands. This 3-hour guided tour will allow you to see the Mokes while still having more time to explore more of the windward side of Oahu on the same day. Sail to Moko Nui on a Wa’a (Canoe) and learn about the history of sailing in Polynesian Culture.
Where to Rent Kayaks for the Mokes
There are several places to rent kayaks from on the windward side of Oahu, mainly in Kailua and Kaneohe. Make sure to book a kayak online in advance especially if you are planning to kayak to the Mokes on a Saturday.
I recommend renting your kayak from Windward Watersports in Kailua. The staff here is great and will provide you directions regarding where to launch from and the best route to get to the Mokes. They will also help show you how to load and unload the kayaks onto your car. You can also rent a dry bag from the shop if you don’t have one. I always bring this dry bag with me for kayaking adventures and I highly recommend it. A landing permit is required for the Mokes and you can purchase this through the kayak shop.
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How to Kayak to the Mokes
It is a 2.5-mile paddle from Kailua Beach Park to the Mokes. The paddle can be moderate or difficult depending on the weather conditions. Strong winds and current can make this a more challenging trip. You can start kayaking to the Mokes from the canal that is across from Kailua Beach Park as this allows you closer access to your vehicle for loading the kayaks. Another option is to park at Kailua Beach Park and carry the kayak down the beach to the water.
Follow the directions given by your guide or staff at the kayak rental shop regarding which route is the best to kayak to the Mokes. Kayaking parallel to the shore and not far from the beach is usually recommended for calmer waves, and then when you reach Moko Nui kayak further out in the ocean in that direction. You want to reach the beach on Moko Nui from the left side to make it easier to land. This exciting kayak adventure offers views of Kailua and Lanikai Beaches from the ocean. You will see the Ko’olau range towering above the beaches, offering a picturesque image.
Top Things to Do on the Mokes
When you get to the Mokes you can bring your kayak up to the beach and explore the perimeter of the island. Eat lunch and relax on the beach with views of the windward side of Oahu. Hike the trail on the right side of the island to Queens Bath. Along the way you will see tide pools and have the chance to spot interesting animals, plants, and sea birds. Spend time relaxing in Queen’s bath, an 8-foot natural pool.
On your way to and from the Mokes there are live coral reefs that you can snorkel above to see unique fish and sea turtles. The water here is a beautiful blue color and a comfortable temperature. If you want a break on the way there or back you can stop at Lanikai Beach.
Tips for Kayaking to the Mokes
- The waves can get big and even if you don’t plan on getting into the water and snorkeling, you will most likely get wet while kayaking to the Mokes.
- Make sure to secure all items on your kayak on your way to the Mokes and back as it is possible to flip over and you don’t want to lose your belongings.
- Don’t forget to put all your valuables in a dry bag and clip the dry bag onto the kayak hooks or chair hooks.
- In case you flip over make sure that anything that you don’t want to get wet is inside the dry bag, including food, towel, etc.
- Kayak to the Mokes on a weekday when it is less busy. Remember that you can’t access Moko Nui on Sunday, and Moko Iki cannot be accessed any day.
- Listen to the instructions from the kayak rental company for how to put your kayak back on your car so you are able to load it back up on your own to bring it back.
- Bring sunscreen with you and don’t forget to re-apply!
What to Bring to Kayak to the Mokes
- Waterproof sunscreen: Bring it with you because you’ll want to re-apply!
- Sunglasses: Always needed, often forgotten.
- Snorkel Gear: Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear so that you can snorkel above coral reefs on the way to and from the Mokes. You will likely see sea turtles! I used this snorkel and goggles set while snorkeling on Oahu. Tip: use baby shampoo on the googles to prevent fogging.
- Waterproof Walking Sandals: If you want to explore the island of Moko Nui I recommend bringing shoes that you can walk with on the lava rocks. These walking sandals are perfect for water activities in Hawaii.
- Reusable water bottle: Make sure to bring plenty of water with you! This Stanley water bottle stays cold for up to 12 hours.
- Dry bag: It is very helpful to have your own dry bag with you for kayaking and other water activities. I use this 10L dry bag for all my kayaking adventures.
- Beach Towel: Bring a towel with you that you can use to relax on the beach at the Mokes. This beach towel is light and drys quickly.
- Lunch: Make sure to bring lunch to eat when you get to the Mokes. This kayak adventure is a work out and you will get hungry.
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