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Chinamans Hat Island (Mokolii Island) Kayak & Hike On Oahu


by Beverlee Paz



Chinaman’s Hat Island, locally known as Mokolii Island, is a hidden gem nestled on the eastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii. This picturesque island, aptly named for its resemblance to a traditional Chinese hat, offers adventure enthusiasts a unique opportunity to kayak and hike their way through stunning natural beauty.


With its lush greenery, pristine sandy beaches, and crystal-clear turquoise waters, Chinaman’s Hat Island is a paradise waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the tranquility of Hawaii, this island offers an unforgettable experience.


As you set foot on Chinaman’s Hat Island, you’ll be mesmerized by its dramatic landscape, featuring jagged volcanic rock formations and rugged cliffs. The island’s rich biodiversity, both on land and in the surrounding waters, makes it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.


From thrilling kayaking expeditions to exhilarating hikes, Chinaman’s Hat Island has something to offer for every adventurer. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a beginner, there are activities suited to all skill levels. So, gear up, grab your paddle and hiking shoes, and get ready to embark on a memorable journey to Chinaman’s Hat Island.


Location of Chinaman’s Hat Island

Chinaman’s Hat Island is located in Kaneohe Bay on the eastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii. The island is a volcanic cone formed by a tuff cone eruption thousands of years ago. It is situated about half a mile offshore from Kualoa Regional Park, making it easily accessible for visitors.


One of the most striking features of this island is its unique shape, resembling a traditional Chinese hat, which has led to its local name, Mokolii Island. The name “Mokolii” translates to “little lizard” in Hawaiian, which is fitting considering the island’s resemblance to a lizard’s head.


Kaneohe Bay, where Chinaman’s Hat Island is located, is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. Surrounded by majestic mountains and vibrant coral reefs, the bay offers a picturesque backdrop for exploring the island and its surrounding waters.


Whether you’re staying in Honolulu, Waikiki, or anywhere else on Oahu, getting to Chinaman’s Hat Island is relatively easy. It’s just a short drive from the main tourist areas, and there are several transportation options available.


When planning your visit, keep in mind that the island is privately owned. However, it is open to the public for recreational purposes, allowing visitors to enjoy its stunning landscapes and engage in various activities.


The location of Chinaman’s Hat Island, nestled in the heart of Kaneohe Bay, makes it a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an escape from the bustling city life and a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Hawaii.


Getting to Chinaman’s Hat Island

Getting to Chinaman’s Hat Island is an adventure in itself. There are several ways to reach this magnificent island, each offering a unique experience and perspective of the surrounding natural beauty.


One of the most popular ways to access Chinaman’s Hat Island is by kayak. You can rent a kayak from one of the many outfitters in the area or join a guided tour. The journey by kayak takes you through the sparkling waters of Kaneohe Bay, allowing you to soak in the stunning views of the coastline and islands along the way. It’s a fantastic opportunity to engage in some water-based exploration before reaching your destination.


If you prefer a more leisurely approach, there are also boat tours available that will take you to Chinaman’s Hat Island. These tours provide a comfortable and convenient way to experience the island without having to paddle yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic boat ride as you head towards this unique destination.


For the adventurous spirits, another way to reach Chinaman’s Hat Island is by swimming. However, this option is only recommended for experienced swimmers, as the distance can be quite challenging. Always ensure that you have the necessary safety equipment and take into account the current and weather conditions before attempting to swim to the island.


Once you arrive at Chinaman’s Hat Island, you’ll find a designated area to dock your kayak or anchor your boat. Remember to secure your belongings and be mindful of the tides and underwater rocks when disembarking.


It’s important to note that Chinaman’s Hat Island is a popular destination, especially during peak tourist seasons. To avoid overcrowding and ensure that you can fully enjoy your experience, plan your visit during weekdays or early mornings when there are fewer visitors.


Regardless of how you choose to reach Chinaman’s Hat Island, the journey itself will be a memorable part of your adventure. So, pack your sunscreen, bring your camera, and get ready to embark on a thrilling voyage to this captivating island.


Kayaking to Chinaman’s Hat Island

Kayaking to Chinaman’s Hat Island is a popular and exhilarating way to experience the natural beauty of Oahu’s eastern coast. As you paddle through the calm and clear waters of Kaneohe Bay, you’ll have the opportunity to witness stunning coastal landscapes, encounter marine life, and feel the thrill of adventure.


Before setting out on your kayaking journey, it’s important to ensure you have the necessary equipment. If you don’t have your own kayak, you can rent one from a local outfitter that offers kayak rental services. They will provide you with the appropriate gear, including a kayak, paddle, life vest, and any other required safety equipment. It’s also recommended to bring sunscreen, a hat, and a waterproof bag to protect your belongings.


Once you’re ready to launch, paddle out from the shore and start your journey towards Chinaman’s Hat Island. The paddle to the island typically takes around 20-30 minutes, depending on your kayaking abilities and the current conditions. Along the way, take in the picturesque views of the coastline, the surrounding islands, and the majestic mountains in the distance.


As you approach Chinaman’s Hat Island, you’ll notice its unique shape becoming more prominent. The volcanic cone rises from the ocean, covered in lush green vegetation, and beckons you closer. Be cautious of the underwater rocks as you near the island, and navigate accordingly to avoid any potential hazards.


Upon landing at Chinaman’s Hat Island, secure your kayak and take a moment to appreciate the pristine sandy beach and crystal-clear waters. You can choose to explore the island on foot, hike to its summit, or simply relax and soak in the serene atmosphere. Remember to pack out any trash you bring and respect the island’s ecosystem by not disturbing the wildlife or native plants.


When you’re ready to depart from the island, carefully launch your kayak back into the water and begin your paddle back to the mainland. The return journey presents the opportunity to admire the scenic landscapes from a different perspective, as you reflect on the adventure you’ve just experienced.


Kayaking to Chinaman’s Hat Island offers a unique and immersive experience, allowing you to intimately connect with the stunning natural surroundings. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, this journey is sure to leave you with lifelong memories of adventure and exploration.


Hiking on Chinaman’s Hat Island

For those seeking to elevate their exploration of Chinaman’s Hat Island, hiking to the summit is an exhilarating adventure that offers breathtaking views and a unique perspective of the island’s volcanic landscape.


The hike begins on the sandy beach, where you’ll navigate through the shoreline and make your way towards the vegetation-covered slopes of the island. As you ascend, be prepared for a moderate hike that may involve some steep sections and uneven terrain. It’s recommended to wear sturdy hiking shoes or sneakers to ensure stability and avoid discomfort.


Throughout the hike, take the time to pause and appreciate the striking natural beauty of the island. The lush greenery, vibrant wildflowers, and the sound of the ocean breeze create a serene and tranquil ambiance as you make your way towards the summit.


Reaching the top of Chinaman’s Hat Island rewards you with panoramic views of the surrounding ocean, neighboring islands, and the picturesque coastline of Oahu. From this vantage point, you can fully grasp the island’s unique shape and take in the awe-inspiring landscape that stretches before you.


While hiking, it’s important to stay on designated trails and be mindful of the fragile ecosystem. Leave no trace behind, take only photographs, and avoid disturbing any wildlife or plants you may encounter during your trek.


Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized throughout the hike. It’s also advisable to wear sunscreen, as the sun can be intense on the island, even during cooler months.


As you descend from the summit and make your way back to the beach, take a moment to reflect on the adventure you’ve just experienced. The hike on Chinaman’s Hat Island offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, challenge yourself physically, and create lasting memories in one of Hawaii’s most picturesque locations.


Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the island, the hiking trails on Chinaman’s Hat Island provide an unforgettable experience that showcases the island’s geological wonders and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment.


Exploring the Wildlife on Chinaman’s Hat Island

Chinaman’s Hat Island is not only a stunning destination for outdoor activities but also a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife. As you explore the island, you’ll have the opportunity to observe and appreciate the rich ecosystem that thrives in its unique volcanic landscape.


One of the highlights of exploring the wildlife on Chinaman’s Hat Island is encountering various bird species, both on land and in the surrounding waters. Keep an eye out for native seabirds such as the Wedge-tailed Shearwater and the Pacific Golden Plover. You may also spot shorebirds, such as the Hawaiian Stilt, as they forage along the shoreline.


Underwater, the marine life around Chinaman’s Hat Island is just as diverse and captivating. Snorkeling or diving around the island allows you to witness colorful fish species, graceful sea turtles, and even the occasional Hawaiian monk seal. Take the opportunity to explore the vibrant coral reefs that surround the island, immersing yourself in an underwater world teeming with life.


While exploring the island, you may come across small reptiles like the geckos and skinks that call Chinaman’s Hat home. These fascinating creatures play an essential role in the island’s ecosystem and add to its unique charm.


As you hike through the island’s vegetation-covered slopes, keep an eye out for the native plants and flowers that thrive in this pristine environment. From the fragrant plumeria to the vibrant hibiscus, the flora on Chinaman’s Hat Island creates a captivating backdrop for your exploration.


Remember to observe wildlife from a respectful distance and avoid disturbing their natural behaviors or habitats. It’s important to take only photographs and leave no trace behind to ensure the preservation of this fragile ecosystem.


By exploring the wildlife on Chinaman’s Hat Island, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of nature and the importance of preserving these pristine habitats. Engaging with the island’s wildlife adds an extra layer of wonder and excitement to your adventure, creating memories that will last a lifetime.


Tips for Visiting Chinaman’s Hat Island

Visiting Chinaman’s Hat Island can be an incredible experience filled with adventure and natural beauty. To make the most of your trip and ensure a safe and enjoyable visit, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Check the weather conditions: Before heading out to Chinaman’s Hat Island, it’s crucial to check the weather forecast. Strong winds or rough seas can make kayaking or boating conditions challenging and potentially unsafe. Plan your visit on a day when weather conditions are favorable.
  2. Bring proper equipment and supplies: If you’re kayaking or hiking, make sure to bring appropriate gear. This includes a life vest, a paddle, a waterproof bag for your belongings, sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Having the right equipment will contribute to your comfort and safety during your visit.
  3. Respect the environment: Chinaman’s Hat Island is a pristine natural area, so it’s essential to respect and protect the ecosystem. Avoid littering and dispose of any waste properly. Stay on designated trails while hiking and be mindful of the wildlife and plants. Leave nothing except footprints behind.
  4. Be aware of tidal changes: Pay attention to the tides when planning your visit. During high tide, the beach area where you land your kayak may be significantly smaller, making it more challenging to access the island. Time your visit accordingly to have ample space and avoid any difficulties during landing and departure.
  5. Stay hydrated and nourished: The Hawaiian sun can be intense, even on cooler days. Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your visit. Additionally, bring snacks or a picnic lunch to keep yourself fueled and energized during your time on the island.
  6. Practice water safety: If you’re kayaking or swimming, it’s essential to practice water safety. Wear a life vest at all times while on the water and be aware of your capabilities. Be cautious of currents and follow any safety guidelines provided by rental companies or tour operators.
  7. Respect private property: While portions of Chinaman’s Hat Island are open to the public, some areas may be privately owned. Respect any signs or boundaries indicating private property and avoid trespassing.
  8. Plan your visit during weekdays or off-peak hours: Chinaman’s Hat Island can get crowded, especially on weekends and during peak tourist seasons. To avoid overcrowding and fully enjoy the beauty of the island, plan your visit on weekdays or during off-peak hours when there are fewer visitors.

By following these tips, you’ll have a memorable and enjoyable experience while visiting Chinaman’s Hat Island. Embrace the natural splendor, respect the environment, and immerse yourself in the adventure that awaits on this unique Hawaiian gem.



Chinaman’s Hat Island, with its stunning natural beauty and adventurous activities, offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience on Oahu’s eastern coast. Whether you choose to kayak through the calm waters of Kaneohe Bay, hike to the summit for panoramic views, or explore the wildlife that thrives in its volcanic landscape, this hidden gem provides a captivating adventure for all.


As you paddle or hike your way to Chinaman’s Hat Island, you’ll be immersed in the beauty of Hawaii’s coastline, surrounded by majestic mountains and vibrant coral reefs. The island itself, with its lush vegetation and distinctive shape, offers a picturesque setting that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


While exploring Chinaman’s Hat Island, it’s important to respect and protect its fragile ecosystem. Leave no trace, be mindful of wildlife and plants, and comply with any regulations or guidelines set forth by local authorities. By doing so, we can preserve this natural haven for generations to come.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a serene escape, Chinaman’s Hat Island has something to offer for everyone. From kayaking along the coastline to hiking to the summit, the possibilities for exploration and discovery are endless.


Remember to plan your visit accordingly, considering weather conditions, tides, and potential crowds. Bring the essential equipment, stay hydrated, and embrace the natural wonders that await you on this captivating island.


As you return from your adventure on Chinaman’s Hat Island, take a moment to reflect on the memories you’ve made and the beauty you’ve experienced. The island’s distinctive charm and natural splendor will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact, drawing you back for further exploration.


So, pack your sense of adventure, immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Chinaman’s Hat Island, and create memories that will stay with you long after you’ve left its shores.