Alluring and mysterious, the islets and small islands off of Oahu draw the eyes and wonder of visitors who happen to catch sight of them when passing along our coast. Some are accessible by watercraft, some are off limits, but all make for amazing photographic fodder which is why we’ve crafted a custom island tour to focus on these off-shore atolls, isles, and protruding reefs. Clear some memory on your digital camera or smartphone and get ready to capture some incredible sights.
5 Must See Islets and Small Islands Off Oahu to Include on Your Custom Driving Tour
The Na Mokulua Islands (aka “Mokes” or “Twin Islands”) may very well be the most iconic and are definitely the most photographed on this list. Located under a mile from Lanikai Beach, you can actually make landfall (by kayak or outrigger) on Moku Nui (not Moku Iki) but only along the beach as a bird sanctuary covers the rest of the islet. The near mile paddle out can be very challenging, especially when the winds are up, so it’s best to enjoy them from the soft sands of Lanikai. And don’t worry, we know exactly which beach path leads to the best view and photo opportunity.
This island is better known for its nickname, Chinaman’s Hat. It has served as the background for nearly as many movies and TV shows as Kualoa Ranch (aka Jurassic Park) across the road on the mountain side of Kamehameha Highway. If you’re adventurous and a good swimmer you can make it out to Mokoli’i Island. If you see fit (and are ocean fit) we can park at Kualoa Beach Park while you suit up and make the back and forth journey if the tide is low and winds are down. That said, rumors of baby hammerheads (relatively harmless) in the area tend to keep people on the shore, enjoying the vision of Chinaman’s Hat from the small stretch of beach.
You’ll want to hop over to Makapu’u Point Lookout to catch a view of Rabbit Island, also known as Mānana Island. This islet wonder is found less than a mile off of Kaupō Beach at Makapuʻu. It gets it nickname from its form – the shape of a resting rabbit’s head. On a sunny day the view is unmatched as far as most people are concerned. When the winds are up near this windward side gem you’ll find hang-gliders zipping in and out of the scene. If you have great timing you may capture a photo of one of these daredevils with Rabbit Island accenting the background. We’ll park at the Makapu’u trail head and wait until you nail the perfect shot. Just be sure to tag us on Instagram
when you do!
Laie Point, found at the gateway where the windward side blends into the North Shore, boasts some steep cliffs while being steeped in historical significance. It’s a popular cliff jumping spot for serious adventure seekers, but is also great for sightseers. Just a stone’s throw from the point, is Kukuihoolua Island, which is more affectionately named Puka Island. It gets it’s name from the aperture in the middle that allows you to see the horizon right through it, as if looking through a keyhole. There is a small parking lot at the residential edge, so upon arrival you can get out and wander around the point and get a much closer look at Puka Island. If doing so, be sure to wear running shoes as sharp volcanic rock up makes up most of this geological feature – but that’s all part of the visual appeal.
If the above four atolls are collectively considered a “must see”, this addition can be considered a bonus feature. It’s a small islet located somewhat near the North Shore’s Kawela Bay. What Kukaimanini island lacks in size it makes up for in spirit and accessibility. You can capture some great up-close photos from the beach, and if you want to wade in with a pair of reef shoes you can walk right up to the island when the tide is low and the swell is down (late spring and summer are optimal for this). Kahuku Farms food stand is also close by, so we can stop for some fresh pineapple, coconut, mango, and fried bananas before heading back to your accommodations.
You may have noticed that we have not provided a package price on the above island/islet spotting tour of Oahu, but that’s because it all depends on where you are staying, along with any other adjustments you want to make to better personalize your tour. The small islands are all found along the same stretch of coast, from the windward side to the North Shore (or vice versa) so the tour can be completed within three or four hours (contingent upon how long you want to view each). Rates start at a very affordable (especially if coming as a group) $60/hr. Contact us at 1-800-929-1219 to work out your itinerary and we’ll help you plan it out in the most efficient way possible.
~ ALOHA ~