Kailua Beach Park
The same reasons that make Kailua Beach Park an attractive destination for swimming, stand-up paddling—shallow and calm water, and beautiful views all around—make it the hub for kayaking on O‘ahu. You can launch from Kailua Beach Park and paddle out to Flat Island, or paddle up and down the coast. Another popular place to launch from is Lanikai.
For first-time kayakers, a group tour is a great way to get acquainted with the water.Those not comfortable with a little chop on the ocean surface can also kayak in Ka‘elepulu Stream, which spills into the ocean at Kailua Beach Park. The stream opens up into Ka‘elepulu Pond, a wetland area that was flooded to create the Enchanted Lake neighborhood. The water in the stream will contain urban runoff, and if the mouth of the stream has not opened in some time, it can be a bit stinky. On the other side of the coin, the water will be smooth, calm, and more protected from the wind. Just try not to get wet. For first-time kayakers, a group tour is a great way to get acquainted with the water.
The Mokulua Islands, less than a mile offshore from Kailua Beach, are a popular draw. You can actually land on Moku Nui, the larger, more northern island. There’s an inviting beach on the leeward side, just make sure to pull your kayak all the way up to the rocks to allow other people to land. Pack a lunch and put your camera in a dry sack because the view of mainland O‘ahu from the island is breathtaking. There is trail that circles the island, but make sure to remain on the trail because the island is a seabird nesting sanctuary.
In Kailua, you can rent kayaks at Hawaiian WaterSports (167 Hamakua Dr., 808/262-5483, 9am-5pm daily). Single kayaks start at $49 half day, and double kayaks start at $59 half day. All rentals include life vests, paddles, seats, backrests, and dry bags. Add a snorkel set to a kayak rental for an extra $15. They also offer two- and four-hour group and private tours of Kane‘ohe Bay and the Mokulua Islands. Rates start at $99 per person for the group tour and $179 for private tours.
Windward Watersports (33 Hoolai St., 808/261-7873, 9am-5pm daily) rents single kayaks starting at $49 half day, double kayaks for $55 half day, and triple kayaks for $79 half day. Kayaks can be picked up at their retail store or dropped off and ready for you at the beach. They offer a three-hour guided excursion to Flat Island and Lanikai Beach for $95, a four-hour guided adventure that includes a trip to the Mokulua Islands and lunch for $125, and a six-hour guided fishing expedition starting at $175.
Twogood Kayaks (134B Hamakua Dr., 808/262-5656, 9am-6pm Mon.-Fri., 8am-6pm Sat.-Sun.) rents single kayaks for $45 half day and tandem kayaks for $55 half day. Rentals come with a paddle, but there is an additional charge for a dry bag and backrest. They offer free delivery of kayaks to Ka‘elepulu Stream at Kailua Beach Park and basic instruction. They will deliver kayaks to other Kailua areas for $15. Twogood Kayaks has two packages that run 9am-3pm: an Adventure Package for $75 per person with kayak rental, life jacket, paddle, lunch, and round-trip transportation from Waikiki and a Guided Tour for $125 per person with extras like a guide, snorkel gear, dry bag, and backrest.
Just across the street from Kailua Beach Park you’ll find Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks (130 Kailua Rd., Ste. 101B, 808/262-2555 or 888/457-5737, 8:30am-5pm daily). They rent single kayaks for $59 half day, and high-performance single kayaks and double kayaks for $69 half day. Dry bag, cooler, and backrest are an additional fee. They have a four-hour guided tour for beginners that includes snorkeling, transportation from your hotel, and lunch for $129 adults and $114 children 8-12; a two-hour guided kayak tour with a one-hour massage after your paddle for $229; a four-hour guided adventure of Kailua Bay, Flat Island, and the Mokulua Islands with snorkeling, lunch, and hotel transportation for $179; and a six-hour exploration tour for experienced kayakers with snorkeling, lunch, and hotel pickup for $249.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.