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CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND ON OAHU – KAYAK & HIKING

CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND ON OAHU – KAYAK & HIKING

Chinaman’s Hat Island, or Mokoli’i, is a small islet in Kaneohe Bay on the east side of Oahu that offers views of cerulean waters and looming cliffs.

Chinaman’s Hat Island is easily spotted from the scenic route to and from the North Shore along Kamehameha Highway. This small island landmark got its name because of its distinctive shape looks like the traditional Chinese hat. There are a number of legends that go with the island but one suggests that the hat belonged to a giant who rests below the surface.

Paradise
Chinaman's Hat

CHINAMAN’S HAT ISLAND KAYAK RENTAL

Chinamans Hat Island is accessible by kayak or a short swim but most people opt for the kayak. Once you arrive at the island a mini hike to the top will give you amazing views of the shore and the Kualoa Mountains. The kayak rental can be booked in advance

Kaneohe Kayak Rental: After check-in at He’eia State Park, you will listen to a brief safety lesson from the professional staff. Then, take your waterproof map of Kaneohe Bay, go out, and explore. See how the barrier reef has allowed the marine line to flourish. Grab some snorkeling equipment (for an additional cost) and experience one of the best snorkeling spots in the Hawaiian Islands. The great part about this tour is you can check out Chinaman’s hat but also the Kaneohe Sandbar. It’s a great place to have the freedom to explore.

Book your kayaking rental: Kaneohe Kayak Rental

Kayaking Chinaman's Hat

GETTING TO CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND ON OAHU, HAWAII

There are a few different ways that you can get out to Chinaman’s Hat and when the tide is low enough, it’s even possible to wade out to it! If you decide to walk, be sure to bring some sort of floatation device (bodyboard, surfboard, raft, etc.) as people have actually been stranded out there, not realizing how fast the tide can rise.

chinamans hat

MY KAYAKING ADVENTURE TO CHINAMANS HAT ON OAHU, HAWAII

On a slightly overcast morning, we kayaked out from Kualoa Regional Park towards Chinaman’s Hat. While walking sounded like an adventure, I absolutely love kayaking and we got an amazing opportunity to do so when we were invited along on a trip, with some friends.

The ride out was lots of fun. We enjoyed many laughs and even a few excited squeals as the swells splashed us around.  At this point the clouds also opened up and let the sunshine through, adding to the experience. At low tide, you can almost walk to Chinamans Hat Island but at higher tide, kayak or swimming is the best option to reach the island.

chinamans hat
chinamans hat

It took about 15-20 minutes to reach Chinaman’s Hat Island. We pulled the kayaks up onto the rocks so that they would be safe from the tide and also out of the way of others trying to enjoy the awesome views and experiences of this spot. Like most of the island’s other epic attractions, people visit on all days of the week, so you will definitely run into adventurers.

HIKING TO THE TOP OF CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND

Once we were sure that the kayaks were secure, we grabbed our bags and began the hike to the top of Chinaman’s Hat. The trailhead is easy to find and the winding path is quite clear. Depending on the weather, the trail is either dusty and dry, or muddy and slick, which are both slippery conditions, so be sure to bring shoes that you can climb in. One person in our party broke their flip-flops and had to make do, by hopping up to the summit.

chinamans hat
chinamans hat

There are a few areas towards the end of the trail that require you to climb up the rocks but the hand and footholds are easy to find. The hike to the top takes about 5-10 minutes depending on your speed and how well you navigate the steep rocks.

chinamans hat
chinamans hat
chinamans hat

THE TOP OF CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND

Once you reach the top of the hike you are greeted with breathtaking views of the expansive ultramarine Hawaiian waters and a gorgeous view of the beach and Kualoa Regional Park. The looming mountain range is a beautiful backdrop to the view. From the top, you can also see the different beaches and cliff lines of Chinaman’s Hat. On one rock formation, we spotted a Hawaiian Monk Seal sprawled out enjoying the sun.

chinamans hat

After a few photos, we clambered back down the rocky trail and got back into our kayaks. Once we were sure we had all of our belongings, we leisurely made our way back to Kualoa Regional Park.

chinamans hat

If you decide to spend the day on Chinaman’s Hat just know that Kualoa Regional Park closes its gates around 8 so you will be locked in if you stay too late. Right across the street from Kualoa Regional Park is where we went Ziplining at Kualoa Ranch!

THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS

WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
  • Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
  • Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
  • Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
  • Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.

MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS

I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!

Jean

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Aloha! Just for a heads up, you can not kayak to Chinaman's hat from He'eia State park. It is about 6 hours one direction and an extremely rough paddle. You can however, take the kayak on your car to go to the beach park, but no straps or set up service is offered. Mahalo!

cece

Thursday 17th of January 2019

Hey Jackson! is it possible to swim instead of kayak to Mokoli’i? how long of a swim would you say it is?

Ryan

Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

I swam it but you have to be aware of the currents during the day

Jackson & Jessie

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Yeah it was an amazing day. Thanks man!

shayan Naveed

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

This is totally epic. I would love to go on adventures like this with you guys.