Kayaking in Honolulu and Oahu



More Sports and Activities

Kayaking is an easy way to explore the ocean—and Oahu's natural beauty—without much effort or skill. It offers a vantage point not afforded by swimming or surfing, and a workout you won't get lounging on a catamaran. Even novices can get in a kayak and enjoy the island's scenery.

The ability to travel long distances can also get you into trouble. Experts agree that rookies should stay on the windward side. Their reasoning is simple: if you get tired, break or lose an oar, or just plain pass out, the onshore winds will eventually blow you back to the beach. The same cannot be said for the offshore breezes of the North Shore and West Oahu.

Kayaks are specialized: some are better suited for riding waves while others are designed for traveling long distances. Your outfitter can address your needs depending on your skill level. Sharing your plans with your outfitter can lead to a more enjoyable—and safer—experience.

Best Spots

If you want to try your hand at surfing kayaks, Bellows Field Beach (near Waimanalo Town Center, entrance on Kalanianaole Highway) on the windward side and Mokuleia Beach (across from Dillingham Airfield) on the North Shore are two great spots. Hard-to-reach breaks, the ones that surfers exhaust themselves trying to reach, are easily accessed by kayak. The buoyancy of the kayak also allows you to catch the wave earlier and get out in front of the white wash. One reminder on these spots: if you're a little green, stick to Bellows Field Beach with those onshore winds. Generally speaking, you don't want to be catching waves where surfers are; in Waikiki, however, pretty much anything goes.

Equipment, Lessons, and Tours

Go Bananas. Staffers make sure that you rent the appropriate kayak for your abilities, and can also outfit your rental car with soft racks to transport your boat to the beach. (The racks are included in the rental fee.) The store also carries clothing and kayaking accessories and rents stand-up paddleboards. Full-day rates begin at $30 for single kayaks, $45 for doubles, and $30 for stand-up paddleboards. 799 Kapahulu Ave., Kapahulu, Honolulu, HI, 96816. 808/737–9514. 808/732–7646. www.gobananaskayaks.com.

Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks. One of the best places for beginners to rent kayaks is Kailua Beach, and Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks has an ideal location just across the street. Guided kayak tours start at $130 for four hours or, for the more adventurous, rent a kayak and venture to the Mokulua Islands off Lanikai. They also rent snorkeling equipment, stand-up paddleboards, kiteboarding gear, and bikes. Kayak rentals start at $69 for a half day in a double kayak, $59 for single. Kailua Beach Shopping Center, 130 Kailua Rd., Kailua, HI, 96734. 808/262–2555. 808/261–7341. www.kailuasailboards.com.

Surf 'N Sea. This outfitter is located in a rustic wooden building on the beach, so in minutes you can start paddling. Full-day rates begin at $60 for single kayaks, $75 for doubles Keep in mind that these plastic boats are great from spring to fall, but winter weather can be hazardous for even veteran kayakers. This company offers just about any surf-related activity you can imagine on the North Shore in addition to kayaking. 62-595 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa, HI, 96712. 800/899–7873. www.surfnsea.com.

Twogood Kayaks Hawaii. The outfitter offers kayak rentals, lessons, and guided tours. Guides are trained in the history, geology, and birds of the area. Full-day rental rates begin at $45 for single kayaks, $55 for doubles. Fully guided kayak excursions are $125, including lunch, snorkeling gear, and transportation to and from Waikiki. 134B Hamakua Dr., Kailua, HI, 96737. 808/262–5656. 808/261–3111. www.twogoodkayaks.com.

H2O Sports Hawaii. Parasailing, banana boats, bumper boats, snorkeling, and scuba diving: this company offers a wide variety of tours and activities on the water. But the Jet Pack is H2O's most famous program. Pumping 1,000 gallons of sea water per minute through the pack gets you airborne like a character in a sci-fi film. With a 90% success rate for first-time flyers, this safety-conscious outfitter allows you to rocket into the air or walk on water. Launches for first-timers last 15 minutes and depart from a floating platform in Maunalua Bay near Hawaii Kai, but you can add additional time if you can't bear to stop. Make your reservations early as flights book up more than two weeks in advance, and note that the company is only open weekdays. Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, 377 Keahole St, Near Long's Drugs, Hawaii Kai, HI, 96825. 808/396-0100. www.h2osportshawaii.com. From $199.