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Quick Details

Experience this this one of a kind Oahu adventure with plenty of epic views & ocean kayaking Self-Guided Kayak Tour. Everything you need to have a great and safe time out on the water is provided. You’ll get kayaks, seat backs, life vests, dry bags safety equipment, heavy duty pads, straps and private instruction before you set out on your own adventure of Chinaman’s Hat. This tour is suggested for individuals who are experienced in kayaking or are comfortable kayaking in the ocean.

Adult Ages 13+
Child Ages 12& under
Kama'aina or Military
  • Self-Guided Kayak Tour
  • Ko’olau Mountain Range and Kaneohe Bay Views
  • Kayaks, Seat Backs, Life Vests, Dry Bags & Transportation Gear Included

Chinaman’s Hat Self-Guided Kayak Tour

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 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.

What To Expect

You will meet at the Kailua storefront, where they will guide you through strapping the kayak on your vehicle and provide you with all the necessary equipment. You’ll get a personal kayaking lesson, safety demo, description of the route and directions for driving to Kualoa Regional park (30-minute Drive).

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 can check out the secluded mini cove and maybe some tide pools if the tide is 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.  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, some like taking the path that forks to the left and then climbs up the wall on the right side. It’s a lot easier.

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 & Advice

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. Ages 12 & older are advised 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.

How To Prepare

  • Wear Sunscreen.
  • Bring/wear water shoes or athletic shoes if you want to hike around on Chinaman’s Hat.
  • Life Jackets are provided as well as Dry bags and all the other equipment you need for the experience.
  • If you bring snacks and water, be sure to pack out the trash.
  • Please leave valuables at home.