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.
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
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.
BEST RENTAL CAR COMPANY IN HAWAII
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
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!
- What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU