Kayaking to The Mokes
Let’s go ahead and subtitle this post with: “Way more pictures than necessary because Nicole couldn’t narrow it down.” Catchy, no? No. Okay.
So this was a fantastic day. Mostly. But we’ll get to that in a few.
Our kayaking adventure was on January 18 – the last day of my mom & stepmom’s visit. They offered to keep the kids for us so we could have a date day. Since neither James nor I had ever kayaked before, we really wanted to try it out sans kids first. Turns out that it’s not nearly as difficult as we imagined. And it’s so. much. fun!
We woke up early and discovered that Roz, my stepmom, had packed our daypack for us – complete with veggies and fruit. How cool is that? We grabbed our pack, snorkeling gear, and headed out to Kailua. We knew we wanted our first kayaking experience to be a trip out to Flat (Popoia) and the Mokulua Islands. It’s totally a touristy thing to do, but it’s the obvious destination for beginners like us. It turned out to be the perfect first trip.
We arrived at another rental place first, but we discovered that it was much farther from Kailua Beach, and we don’t have racks on our van. It doesn’t mean that kayaks can’t be hoisted and held on top, but it just didn’t seem appealing. (We are considering having racks installed.) So I did a quick Google search on my phone, and we ended up at Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks.
We went back and forth trying to decide if we wanted to rent a tandem or two singles, but ultimately we decided that two singles made the most sense. Although gliding through the ocean in a tandem kayak sounds super romantic (and cheap!), I wanted to make sure I could take full-length kayak photos. Plus, we need to have experience handling our own kayaks for when we go back with the kiddos. In the end, it was the right choice for us.
After we secured the half-day rentals, we had to go back and watch a video. I thought it would be super boring, but it actually was quite helpful. We referenced it plenty during our trip. And oh yeah, there was just a seal chilling in front of the screen.
After stopping for a quick potty break, donning our life jackets, and getting our kayaks propped up on little rolling carts, we started the short journey down the road to the beach. “Short” is a relative term. It felt like 20 miles to me.
I must have said, “We’re going the wrong way!” seventy-six times. We weren’t.
And then James grabbed my kayak so we wouldn’t waste half our day just getting to the water.
We finally arrived at the little canal beach. This is where things started to suck a bit. We (by we, I of course mean James) unhooked the carts and brought the kayaks down to the water.
And being the bright person that I sometimes am, I shoved my iPhone (which was inside of a zipped baggie) into my life jacket. Seemed like the perfect plan. Only, it wasn’t.
We started our short practice trip to the actual beach area and I was like, “Oh look, a baggie in the water. Littering isn’t cool.”
Then we reached the bank, and this came out of my mouth: “OH NO! WHERE IS MY PHONE?!” Lost. That’s where it’s at. Lost somewhere in the water. In a baggie. Because I’m a litterer. But just in case, James walked back to see if I’d dropped it before we launched.
And I got back in the kayak and headed back to see if I could find it in the canal. (I’m not really sure it’s a canal, but I don’t know what else to call it. So canal it is.) But nope. Absolutely no phone. My first (or fifth?) thought was that I was so grateful I dumped all of the phone’s pictures onto my computer the night before. I would have been a big crybaby mess.
But I was still pretty upset. Just two months ago, I was jogging and fell and shattered my screen. So this phone was brand new. (As a side note, I filed my insurance claim, paid the $170 fee and received my new phone. Unfortunately, as we were in the process of activating it, the phone fell to the floor and the screen shattered. I can’t make this stuff up, folks. Seriously. So James gave me his phone and took the shattered one for the time being. That’s chivalry.)
So back to my story. James told me to shake it off, and we decided to not let it ruin our day. We pulled our kayaks over the sand and into the ocean.
And we headed out to Flat Island.
The water was so clear and beautiful. And as we were nearing the shore, I was a little bit nervous about landing.
I totally ran into a huge rock, but it wasn’t that bad. We got out of our kayaks and did some exploring. Since this is a bird sanctuary, you’re only supposed to walk around the perimeter.
So that’s what we did. Walked around and took pictures.
Those are the Mokulua Islands off to the left.
A panoramic shot looking back from the island. Gorgeous.
I think this was the only actual bird we saw. Admittedly, we were only on the island about 20 minutes, but I still found it kind of funny since we were in a bird sanctuary.
A look into the middle of the small island.
This is the sandbar that we avoided landing on thanks to that helpful video. Our kayaks would have just been washed back into the water.
And then we made it back to the beach. As you can see, there were many people out. But it turns out that the best way to learn something new is to do it with a bunch of tourists. You don’t look dumb because you’re just one of many beginners. I have a fear of looking stupid, so this worked out well for me.
It’s a little bit of an effort getting off the beach each time, but we were headed towards the Mokes in no time.
So, here is a little Google map image so you understand the scale. We took off near the Kailua Beach Shopping Center label. We kayaked to Popoia Island and then we were told to stick close to shore (past Lanikai Beach) and then go straight out to Moku Nui in an effort to avoid the large coral. The other (farther) land mass is called Moku Iku but it is a bird sanctuary and off-limits. The two together make up the Mokulua Islands (aka The Mokes). There is your little geography lesson.
Okay, so back to our journey.
Part of me thinks living in those houses would be amazing. The other part is worried about them falling into the water.
We ended up going really near the shore of Lanikai Beach. It was difficult to know exactly how close we should go.
Oh, look, there is our destination! And the coral underneath wasn’t a problem in this area. You could see it clearly, but the kayak never scraped it.
Another look back at the beach. It’s so difficult to take a bad picture here, I swear.
And here are just some random photos of us making it out there. So sorry that I couldn’t cut them down.
So close! You can even see the beach. And it turns out that it’s a bit skeeeery right here. The waves come around the island and meet right there. So smoothly landing on the beach is pretty much impossible. I hit another rock.
James made it in a little more gracefully.
And then we stood there and took in the beauty.
We sat down and had our lunch. James is munching down on some green peppers. Yum.
Then we went off to explore.
Similar to Flat Island, we could only access the perimeter of the island. And as it turns out, we weren’t quite adventurous to even really do much of that.
See the surfers?
So see that really rocky area to the left? One of the female surfers got washed in there. Ouch. And she just stood up and got back in the water. Skin of steel I guess.
We kept on walking. But then we came to an sketchy area and we weren’t feeling too sure about crossing it. Plus, we were on a bit of a time crunch, so we headed back.
Once we reached the beach, we headed off to the other side of the island.
Same thing happened on that side – we weren’t exactly sure which way to go. We could see people farther around the island, but we just decided to leave that adventure for another day.
So we headed back towards the beach. And I have to say that you could just sit and people watch there for hours. Between the tourists and locals, there was so much entertainment. We saw people on surfboards, paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes. The waves were crashing into each other and they were just riding them. It was really the neatest thing. But then it was also interesting to watch the kayakers trying to make it back out into the open water. It had to be timed perfectly .
James had the waterproof camera at this point so you’ll see more pictures of me. 🙂
As we were going over the coral, I thought I saw a white sting ray. Then as I got closer, it came to the surface and swam right by me. Not a sting ray – a sea turtle. It was a tiny little thing.
And then we were on our way again.
I’m embarrassed to tell you how many times we stopped to get a selfie that included both islands. Winners.
We can see the beach! We were starting to get tired.
We made it! And I was praying we didn’t mow over any of the kids on the beach. Once you get so close, you lose some of your control.
We made it back through the canal, loaded the kayaks back onto the carts, and headed back to the store.
It took us about 90 minutes to paddle out to Flat Island and then Moku Nui. It took us about 45 minutes to paddle back in. Such a great experience. We did pack our snorkeling gear, but we didn’t see any good swimming areas where we were. I’m wondering if we had kept exploring to the back of the island? Maybe there is something there. It’s good for us to have something to look forward to for next time.
We feel absolutely comfortable to take the kids out. Aidan was bummed that he didn’t get to go, but it was so nice to have a date day. Huge thanks to my mom & stepmom for watching the kids, and another thanks to my dad & stepmom whose anniversary gift helped us rent the kayaks!