Getaway Compass

Kayaking to the Mokulua Islands (Mokes)

Kayak to the Mokes Oahu

The Mokulua Islands (also known as the Mokes) 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. Please note that Moko Nui is not accessible to the public on Sunday, so make sure to plan your kayaking adventure to the Mokuluas for a different day. The small island, Moko Iki cannot be accessed by visitors.

Where to Rent Kayaks for the Mokulua Islands

Kayak Rental Oahu

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 Mokulua Islands 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.

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.

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.

What to Bring to Kayak to the Mokulua Islands

Guide to Kayaking to the Mokes
Lanikai Beach from Kayak
  • 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.
  • 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 to eat when you get to the Mokes. This kayak adventure is a work out and you will get hungry.
  • Iphone / camera to capture the memories.

How to Kayak to the Mokulua Islands

Lanikai Beach

It is a 2.5-mile paddle from Kailua Beach Park to Moko Nui. 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 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 Mokulua Islands. 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.

If you are interested in more kayaking adventures in Hawaii check out these guides for how to kayak to Chinaman’s Hat and how to Kayak to Kaneohe Sandbar. There are many other fun activities to do on Oahu including a sunset boat tour, surfing lesson, and UTV Tour at Kualoa Ranch. Consider booking these incredible experiences ahead of your trip before they sell out.

What to Do at the Mokulua Islands

Us at the Mokulua Islands Oahu
Queens Bath at the Mokes

When you get to Moko Nui 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 Mokulua Islands 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 Mokulua Islands

On the Mokes Oahu
  • The waves can get big and even if you don’t plan on getting into the water and snorkeling, you will get wet while kayaking.
  • Make sure to secure all items on your kayak as it is possible to flip over and you don’t want to lose your belongings.
  • Make sure 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 Mokulua Islands 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 to bring it back.
  • Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen! Learn from my mistakes.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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