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Kaneohe Bay 10 Reef Kayaking

Kaneohe, Hawaii


Added by Chris Tachibana

Kaneohe Bay is the remnant of a massive volcanic caldera. The collapse of the eastern side of the Ko’olau volcano created this protected bay surrounded by Hawaii's only barrier reef and the epic cliff sides that form the Ko’olau Mountain Range. If you have the chance to kayak out to these coral reefs and are feeling adventurous, put on your snorkel gear and hop into the water. The barrier reef provides shelter and is a refuge for innumerable marine organisms. Please look, but do not touch. The reef is a combination of millions of microscopic living things and has taken thousands of years to grow into this spectacular form. It just takes a few flipper strokes to undo hundreds of years of growth. If you aren’t into getting in and out of your kayak on the ocean, the coral reef is clearly visible from the comfort of your kayak. You can often spot turtles cruising near your kayak as well. Kayaking Kaneohe Bay takes about 3 hours, but if you can easily spend more time out there -- just make sure you've packed enough supplies for how long you plan to stay. 

When venturing on your Kaneohe Bay excursion, you can launch the kayaks from the Waiahole Nursery and Garden Center parking lot. Kayaking out to the first reef, Kaneohe Bay’s Turtle Reef, only takes about 15 minutes. The water is nice and clear around the coral and the best viewing is usually along the edges of the underwater coral islands. From there, you have the choice to snorkel and explore the waters while keeping the kayak on a leash or keep padding and taking in the view from above. The other reefs are not too far north and south of you.

If you are a fan of movies like 50 First Dates, you’ll recognize the locations where they filmed like the Hukilau Cafe and Waikane Pier off to the left about 15 minutes via kayak north of the launch location. (Please don’t land on the shore over there; it’s private property.) The Ko’olau mountains surrounding you scream Jurassic Park. It’s not hard to imagine a giant brachiosaurus lumbering through the jungle gnawing on some monkeypod tree leaves.

Basically, whatever kayaking route you choose, you’ll have an amazing view of the windward coast and you’ll get a glimpse of the best snorkeling reef Oahu has to offer. There is a large population of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles that live around the perimeter of the reef, so you are almost guaranteed to have phenomenal sea turtle viewings.

If you have a kayak leash, you can tow your kayaks behind you as you snorkel as opposed to dropping a kayak anchor, which can easily damage the reef even when used by experienced professionals. Adventure responsibly. The reef is beautiful, but don’t touch it. You will hurt it and it will hurt you. Coral reefs are sharp and highly abrasive to your skin. Cuts received from contact with coral often get infected because coral is alive, so keep your distance.

The best time to kayak in Kaneohe Bay is in the morning. On perfect days, the ocean is completely flat and you can see through it like glass. It’s quite the experience to see the coral and fish below you while you are kayaking. Days with less wind will give you better visibility from the kayak, but if you are snorkeling, a breathtaking underwater landscape awaits you in all but the most extreme weather conditions.

If you have your own gear, great! If you need to rent, these guys are on it!

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
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Photograph Mokoli‘i from Kualoa Regional Park


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