Guest Author - Annie Billups
The Mokulua islands stand stoically in the clear, coral-filled waters off of Kailua Beach. They stare at Oahu with a well-deserved dignity for withstanding both human development and severe, unblocked winds. Most visitors to the Mokuluas choose to kayak there, but it is possible to sail and motor there.
Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks across the street from Kailua Beach on Kailua Road rents kayaks for half days ($39), full days ($49), and multiple days. It takes most people thirty to forty-five minutes to paddle to Flat Island, and an hour and a half to two hours to paddle to the Mokuluas. The rental shop's kayaks are in great shape, and they provide hand-pulled trailers to roll them to the beach. They also rent dry bags and coolers.
The journey to the islands can be either a rigorous cardio workout, or a lazy paddle punctuated with dips in the ocean and snorkeling. My friends and I saw several green sea turtles and colorful fish along the way. The currents are usually calm and manageable, but beginners should be careful on days with unusually strong currents and winds. It is smart to bring plenty of sunscreen and water, as the sun and salty air aren't lenient toward the unprepared. After beaching their kayaks, many visitors leave them unattended while they explore the island. While it seemed safe, leaving valuables in the boats is never recommended.
Walking around the island is a must. Following the trail, you can see multitudes of shorebirds burrowed in holes underground. Ruddy Turnstone, Pacific Golden Plover, and more have made these tiny islands their home. Vegetation stands low, bushy, and windswept. Treading around the sharp lava rock perimeter leads to a lagoon on the other side resembling the scenes from Peter Pan. Daredevils can cliff jump into the deep, blue hole, but there is plenty of room for swimming, as well. If the water looks rough, however, the lagoon is better experienced with your eyes.
While the equipment from Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks functions without a problem, the service could use some improvement. Upon returning from a day of kayaking, the last thing you want to do is spend a half hour strapping a heavy kayak onto a trailer. A staff member on a bike rode by to check on things, and when we asked for help he made a snide remark about our weak arms and said that it was not his job to help us. Luckily, a kind windsurfer walked by and helped my group as well as one other. When we finally sauntered into to the shop to return the equipment, we suggested to the manager that he station someone on the beach to help reload the kayaks. He brushed us off and made a joke under his breath to his coworker.
Luckily, these instances did not mar our lazy four hours on the calm sea. My next kayak excursion is in the works. I listed the links for Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks, as well as some other outfitters below.