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Kayaking To The Mokes From Kailua: Mokulua Islands


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Brittani Dumas



Welcome to the captivating world of kayaking in Kailua, where adventure meets tranquility and nature’s beauty unfolds all around you. Picture yourself gliding through crystal-clear waters, surrounded by stunning beaches and islands. One of the most breathtaking destinations in Kailua is the Mokulua Islands. These twin islands, also known as “The Mokes,” are a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


Located just off the coast of Lanikai Beach, the Mokulua Islands are a popular destination for kayakers due to their pristine beaches, wildlife sightings, and excellent snorkeling opportunities. Whether you are an experienced paddler or a novice adventurer, kayaking to the Mokes from Kailua is an amazing way to explore the wonders of these picturesque islands.


In this article, we will guide you through the exciting journey of kayaking to the Mokulua Islands from Kailua. From renting kayaks to preparing for the trip, paddling through the sparkling waters to exploring the islands’ hidden gems, we will cover everything you need to know for an unforgettable experience.


So, grab your sunscreen, put on your water shoes, and get ready for an exhilarating and peaceful adventure as we kayak to the Mokulua Islands in Kailua!


Getting to Kailua

Kailua, located on the windward side of Oahu, is easily accessible from Honolulu and other parts of the island. If you are visiting from outside Oahu, you can fly into Honolulu International Airport and then take a scenic drive to Kailua, which is approximately 20 miles away.


Alternatively, if you are already on Oahu, you can take a local bus or rent a car to reach Kailua. The drive from Honolulu to Kailua takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.


As you make your way to Kailua, you will be mesmerized by the lush green mountains, charming neighborhoods, and glimpses of the sparkling ocean. The journey to Kailua sets the stage for the adventure that awaits you on the Mokulua Islands.


If you prefer a more relaxing option, you can also arrange for transportation services or join a guided tour that includes transportation from your hotel to Kailua. This way, you can sit back and enjoy the scenic views without worrying about directions or parking.


Once you arrive in Kailua, you will quickly understand why it is considered one of the most picturesque towns on Oahu. Its laid-back atmosphere, stunning beaches, and welcoming community make it the perfect starting point for your kayaking journey to the Mokulua Islands.


Next, we will delve into the process of renting kayaks in Kailua, ensuring that you have all the necessary equipment for your adventure to the Mokes.


Renting Kayaks

Before embarking on your kayaking adventure to the Mokulua Islands, it’s important to secure a reliable and well-maintained kayak rental. Fortunately, Kailua boasts several rental shops that offer a variety of kayaks to suit different preferences and skill levels.


When choosing a kayak rental, it’s crucial to consider factors such as the quality of the kayaks, safety equipment provided, rental rates, and customer reviews. Look for rental shops that have a good reputation and prioritize customer satisfaction.


Most kayak rental shops in Kailua offer single and tandem kayaks, allowing you to choose the option that best suits your needs. Single kayaks are ideal for solo adventurers, while tandem kayaks are perfect for couples, friends, or families who want to enjoy the experience together.


In addition to the kayaks, rental shops will usually provide paddles, life jackets, and other safety equipment. Make sure to double-check that all the necessary equipment is included in the rental package.


It’s advisable to make a reservation in advance, especially if you’re planning to kayak during the peak season or on weekends. This will ensure that you have a kayak available and will save you time on the day of your adventure.


When you arrive at the rental shop, the staff will assist you in selecting the right kayak size and adjusting the equipment to ensure a comfortable and safe fit. They will also provide helpful instructions on operating the kayak and navigating the waters.


Before setting off, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the kayak and its features. Learn how to adjust the seat, use the foot pedals, and secure any personal items you wish to bring along.


With your kayak rental secured and equipment in hand, you are now ready to prepare for your journey to the Mokulua Islands. In the next section, we will discuss essential preparations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable kayaking experience.


Preparing for the Journey

As you gear up for your kayaking adventure to the Mokulua Islands, proper preparation is key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential steps to take before embarking on your journey:


1. Check the Weather: Before heading out, check the weather forecast for Kailua and the surrounding areas. It’s important to avoid kayaking in strong winds, rough seas, or inclement weather conditions. Choose a day with calm winds and clear skies for a smooth and pleasant excursion.


2. Plan Your Timing: Take into consideration the tides and current conditions when planning your kayak trip. Aim to paddle during high tide, which will make it easier to access and explore the Mokulua Islands. Check the local tide charts to help you determine the best time to launch and return.


3. Pack Appropriately: Prepare your essentials for the trip. Wear comfortable and lightweight clothing that you don’t mind getting wet. Apply sunscreen and bring a hat, sunglasses, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated under the sun. Consider packing a waterproof bag or container to protect your valuables and snacks from water exposure.


4. Familiarize Yourself with the Kayaking Route: Take time to study the kayaking route from Kailua to the Mokulua Islands. Be aware of any potential hazards or areas to avoid, such as rocky shores or shallow reefs. This knowledge will help you navigate with confidence and make the most of your journey.


5. Brush Up on Kayaking Skills: If you’re a beginner or haven’t kayaked in a while, it’s beneficial to brush up on your kayaking skills. Practice paddling techniques, turning, and maneuvering in calm waters before venturing out to the open sea. This will ensure that you feel comfortable and confident while on your kayak.


6. Respect the Environment: Remember to practice responsible and eco-friendly kayaking. Respect marine life, avoid disturbing nesting birds, and refrain from touching or removing coral. Leave no trace behind and help preserve the natural beauty of the Mokulua Islands for future adventurers to enjoy.


By following these preparations, you’ll set yourself up for a successful and enjoyable kayaking experience. Now, it’s time to launch from Kailua Beach and begin your unforgettable journey to the Mokulua Islands!


Launching from Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach serves as the starting point for your kayaking adventure to the Mokulua Islands. With its powdery white sand, turquoise waters, and stunning views, this beach is not only a fantastic place to unwind but also the gateway to a remarkable journey.


When you arrive at Kailua Beach, locate the designated area for launching kayaks. You’ll typically find it on the right side of the beach, where kayak rental shops are often located. Take a moment to observe the conditions of the water, ensuring that it is calm and suitable for kayaking.


Before launching, it’s important to properly secure any loose items in your kayak, such as backpacks, water bottles, and cameras. You can use bungee cords or straps to keep them in place. It’s also a good idea to attach a waterproof bag to your kayak for easy access to essentials during the journey.


Once your kayak is loaded and secured, carefully maneuver it towards the water’s edge. Make sure the kayak is facing parallel to the shoreline. This position will allow for an easy entry into the water.


As you step into the kayak, maintain your balance and keep your weight centered to avoid tipping over. Sitting down with your feet inside the kayak, position yourself comfortably on the seat. Adjust the foot pedals if necessary to ensure a proper fit.


When you’re ready, push off from the shore and start paddling. Take a few moments to adjust to the sensation of being on the water and find your rhythm with the paddle strokes. Soon enough, the Mokulua Islands will come into view, calling you to embark on a memorable voyage.


As you paddle away from Kailua Beach, take a moment to bask in the beauty of the surrounding scenery. The lush green mountains, the gentle breeze, and the sound of the ocean will transport you into a state of pure bliss and anticipation for what lies ahead.


Next, we will navigate through the mesmerizing waters towards the Mokulua Islands, where exciting adventures and breathtaking sights await.


Paddling to the Mokulua Islands

As you embark on your kayaking journey from Kailua Beach, the excitement builds as you direct your paddle towards the captivating Mokulua Islands on the horizon. The journey to these scenic twin islands is approximately 0.75 miles, depending on your route and the water conditions.


As you paddle across the calm waters, you’ll find yourself immersed in the natural beauty that surrounds you. The glistening ocean, the sprawling coastline, and the towering mountains create a picturesque backdrop for your adventure.


Remember to pace yourself and find a comfortable rhythm while paddling. Take breaks when needed to rest and enjoy the serene surroundings. Keep in mind that the wind and currents can vary, so adjusting your paddling technique accordingly will help you maintain stability and control.


During your journey, keep an eye out for the Mokulua Islands growing closer on the horizon. These two small islands, known as Moku Nui and Moku Iki, stand as jewels in the Pacific Ocean, beckoning you to explore their pristine beaches and natural wonders.


As you approach the Mokulua Islands, be mindful of any potential changes in water conditions. The waters around the islands can be slightly more challenging due to the proximity of reef formations. Stay alert and navigate around any coral formations or shallow areas to ensure a safe and enjoyable paddling experience.


As you near the Mokulua Islands, you’ll witness the true essence of their untouched beauty. The vibrant turquoise waters contrasted against the striking rocky cliffs create a sight to behold. The islands’ rugged coastline, sea caves, and stretches of white sand beaches provide an incredible backdrop for exploration and adventure.


Next, we will dive into the exciting activities that await you as you set foot on the Mokulua Islands, including snorkeling, wildlife encounters, and peaceful picnicking amidst nature’s paradise.


Exploring the Mokulua Islands

Arriving at the Mokulua Islands after a picturesque paddle is a moment of pure awe and wonder. These stunning twin islands offer an abundance of opportunities for exploration and discovery.


As you step foot on the sandy shores of the Mokulua Islands, you’ll be greeted by a sense of tranquility and seclusion. The islands are a protected seabird sanctuary, home to a variety of bird species, including wedge-tailed shearwaters and red-footed boobies. The presence of these beautiful creatures adds to the unique charm and natural allure of the islands.


One of the highlights of your visit to the Mokulua Islands is the chance to explore the sea caves dotted along the rugged coastline. These majestic caves, formed over centuries, offer a glimpse into the mysterious underwater world. Grab your snorkeling gear and venture into the crystal-clear waters, where you’ll be greeted by vibrant coral reefs and a myriad of colorful marine life.


Snorkeling around the Mokulua Islands is an absolute delight. Dive into the warm waters and witness an underwater paradise filled with tropical fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional curious dolphin. Take your time to explore the different snorkeling spots around the islands, each offering a unique and breathtaking view of the marine ecosystem.


Aside from snorkeling, the Mokulua Islands are ideal for leisurely walks and hikes. Hike to the highest points of Moku Nui or Moku Iki and be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding turquoise waters and the majestic Ko’olau Mountains. The islands’ untouched beauty provides a serene backdrop for capturing stunning photographs and creating lifelong memories.


Spend some time simply basking in the island’s peaceful ambiance, listening to the gentle lapping of waves and feeling the soft ocean breeze against your skin. The Mokulua Islands offer a soothing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to reconnect with nature and find inner peace.


If you’re planning to spend a significant amount of time on the Mokulua Islands, it’s essential to pack provisions. Bring along a picnic lunch and enjoy a relaxing meal amidst the natural beauty surrounding you. Just be sure to clean up after yourself, leaving the islands as pristine as you found them.


As you explore the Mokulua Islands, be respectful of the delicate ecosystem and wildlife. Keep a safe distance from nesting birds and refrain from touching or removing any marine creatures or coral. Let’s continue to preserve the natural beauty of these islands for generations to come.


After an unforgettable exploration of the Mokulua Islands, it’s time to make your way back to Kailua Beach, where you can relax and reflect on the incredible adventure you’ve just experienced.


Snorkeling and Wildlife

Snorkeling around the Mokulua Islands is an extraordinary experience that allows you to encounter a diverse range of marine life and immerse yourself in the beauty of the underwater world. Grab your snorkeling gear and prepare to be amazed by the abundant marine ecosystem that thrives in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands.


As you dive beneath the surface, you’ll discover a vibrant paradise teeming with colorful fish, fascinating reef formations, and curious sea turtles. The Mokulua Islands boast an impressive array of tropical fish species, including butterflyfish, tangs, and parrotfish, each exhibiting their own unique patterns and colors. The calm and clear waters create optimal visibility, allowing you to appreciate the intricate details of these underwater creatures.


One of the highlights of snorkeling around the Mokulua Islands is the opportunity to observe the graceful sea turtles that call the surrounding waters their home. These gentle creatures, known as honu in Hawaiian, often glide through the waters, providing a captivating sight. While snorkeling, keep a respectful distance and let the turtles continue their natural behaviors undisturbed.


For those who are particularly lucky, there may even be the chance to spot playful dolphins or graceful manta rays passing by. Keep your eyes peeled and be prepared for unexpected encounters with these magnificent creatures. It is a reminder of the diverse and magical marine life that inhabit the waters around the Mokulua Islands.


Aside from the vibrant marine life, the Mokulua Islands are also home to numerous seabird species. As you snorkel, take moments to look up and admire the graceful flight of the wedge-tailed shearwaters and the remarkable red-footed boobies diving into the water to catch fish. These birds add a touch of charm and wonder to the overall snorkeling experience.


Whether you are an experienced snorkeler or a beginner, the Mokulua Islands offer an ideal location to explore the wonders of the underwater world. The calm and shallow waters make it accessible for snorkelers of all skill levels. Just remember to practice responsible snorkeling by avoiding contact with the coral reefs and respecting the delicate marine ecosystem.


As you swim among the vibrant coral reefs and encounter the fascinating wildlife, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the natural beauty and biodiversity that exists in the waters surrounding the Mokulua Islands. It’s an experience that will leave you in awe and create lasting memories of your journey in this captivating part of the world.


Picnicking and Relaxation

After an exciting day of exploration and snorkeling around the Mokulua Islands, it’s time to unwind and indulge in some well-deserved relaxation. The islands provide the perfect setting for a serene picnic amidst the beauty of nature.


Find a cozy spot on the sandy shores of either Moku Nui or Moku Iki and spread out a blanket to create your picnic spot. Take in the breathtaking views of the turquoise waters, feel the soft ocean breeze, and revel in the tranquility that surrounds you. It’s a moment of pure bliss, ideal for connecting with loved ones or finding solace in solitude.


For your picnic, pack a delicious assortment of local Hawaiian delicacies or your favorite snacks. Fresh tropical fruits, scrumptious sandwiches, and refreshing beverages are excellent choices to fuel your energy and satisfy your taste buds. Don’t forget to bring reusable containers and bags to minimize your environmental impact and keep the islands litter-free.


As you savor your picnic feast, allow yourself to fully immerse in the natural ambiance. Listen to the gentle lapping of waves against the shore, the distant sounds of seabirds, and the rustling of palm trees. These sensory experiences create a serene atmosphere, making your picnic even more memorable.


As you relax and enjoy your meal, take time to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. The dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and vivid turquoise waters create a stunning backdrop for your leisurely afternoon. The tranquility of the Mokulua Islands allows you to escape the busyness of daily life and find a sense of serenity in the heart of nature.


After your picnic, take a stroll along the shoreline, feel the soft sand beneath your toes, and dip your feet into the refreshing ocean waters. The calm and clear waters surrounding the islands invite you to take a refreshing swim or simply bask in the warmth of the Hawaiian sun.


As you relax on the Mokulua Islands, be sure to abide by the principles of Leave No Trace. Respect the environment by properly disposing of any waste, cleaning up your picnic area, and avoiding any disturbance of the natural surroundings. Let’s work together to preserve the beauty of these islands for future visitors to enjoy.


Whether you choose to have a peaceful picnic with loved ones or simply take a moment to unwind and soak up the tranquil atmosphere, picnicking on the Mokulua Islands is an experience that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and deeply connected to the beauty of the natural world.


Returning to Kailua Beach

As your time on the Mokulua Islands comes to an end, it’s time to pack up your belongings and prepare for the return journey to Kailua Beach. Reflecting on the memorable experiences and breathtaking beauty of the islands, you embark on the final leg of your kayaking adventure.


Before leaving the islands, take a moment to ensure that you haven’t left anything behind. Collect any trash or personal items, and leave the beaches as pristine as you found them. It’s important to be mindful of your impact and maintain the natural beauty of the Mokulua Islands for future visitors.


Launching your kayak from the sandy shores, you re-enter the calm waters surrounding the islands. As you paddle away, be sure to take a last look back at the stunning landscapes and vibrant turquoise waters. The memories of your time spent on the Mokulua Islands will linger in your thoughts as you make your way back to Kailua Beach.


During the return journey, pace yourself and enjoy the peacefulness of the ocean. Reflect on the incredible sights and experiences that you encountered during your time on the islands. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment, savoring the tranquility and beauty that surrounds you.


As you approach Kailua Beach, keep an eye out for other kayakers and beachgoers. Readjust your paddle strokes and maintain awareness of your surroundings as you navigate back to the designated kayak launching area.


Once you arrive at the beach, take your time to carefully disembark from the kayak. Ensure that the kayak is properly secured before stepping out onto the sandy shoreline. Once you’re back on land, take a moment to stretch your legs and reflect on the incredible journey you’ve just completed.


Making your way back to the rental shop, return your kayak and any rented equipment. Share your experiences with the rental staff, offering your gratitude for their assistance throughout the day. If you have a chance, consider leaving a review or testimonial about your kayaking trip to help future adventurers make the most of their own experiences.


With your return to Kailua Beach, take some time to relax and soak up the beauty of the surrounding coastline. Reflect on the memories you’ve created and the adventures you’ve embarked on. Whether you stay a little longer to enjoy the sun and sand or decide to continue exploring the charms of Kailua, the journey to the Mokulua Islands will forever hold a special place in your heart.


As your kayaking adventure comes to an end, remember to carry with you the appreciation for nature’s wonders and the desire to preserve and protect these incredible destinations for generations to come.



Kayaking to the Mokulua Islands from Kailua is an unforgettable adventure that combines the thrill of paddling with the serenity of nature’s beauty. From the moment you set foot on Kailua Beach to the mesmerizing journey across the sparkling waters, and the exploration of the Mokulua Islands themselves, every step of the experience is filled with wonder and awe.


As you paddle towards the Mokulua Islands, you are surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and the gentle sound of waves. The islands themselves offer a sanctuary of tranquility and natural marvels. Snorkel among vibrant coral reefs, encounter sea turtles and fascinating marine life, and marvel at the diversity of seabird species that call these islands home.


As you picnic on the sandy shores of the Mokulua Islands, you find solace in the peacefulness of the surroundings. The beauty of nature envelopes you, and you can’t help but appreciate the harmony that exists between the land, sea, and sky.


Returning to Kailua Beach marks the end of your kayaking journey, but the memories and experiences you’ve gained will last a lifetime. The Mokulua Islands offer a glimpse into the unspoiled natural wonders of Hawaii, a reminder that there are still places of untouched beauty waiting to be explored.


Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a lover of nature, or simply seeking a serene escape, kayaking to the Mokulua Islands is an experience that will leave you with a sense of awe and appreciation for the wonders that our world has to offer.


So, gather your kayaking gear, plan your trip, and embark on this remarkable journey from Kailua to the Mokulua Islands. Immerse yourself in the picturesque landscapes, embrace the serenity, and let the beauty of the islands captivate your senses. Are you ready for an unforgettable kayaking adventure? The Mokulua Islands await, inviting you to explore their hidden treasures and create memories that will stay with you forever.