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Kayaking in Hawaii

Kayaking has become one of our favorite activities in Hawaii.  We generally make it a full day by kayaking to a spot where we can snorkel or hike.  All the businesses we have rented from offer guided tours or do-it-yourself rentals.  Be aware that many businesses expect you to have a rental car so they can strap the kayak on your car to take to the launching site.  Here are a few trips we have taken.

Oahu: Kailua  Several times we have rented kayaks from Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks.  They are located one block from the Kailua Beach, but deliver your kayak to Lanikai Beach.  Unless you request otherwise, they will leave your kayak at the parking lot and you have to drag it over a small hill to the beach.  Flat Island is a short distance off shore and it took us about 10-15 minutes to paddle there.  It has only a small beach to land your kayak.  You can walk around the island and see numerous birds nesting.  Mokulua Islands are much further away and it took us 45 - 60 minutes to paddle there.  There is a protective reef that tends to limit the size of the waves but even then the swells can be rather large.  In addition, you should be cautious of a coral reef between Flat Island and Mokulua Islands.  At low tide, the coral heads almost protrude from the water.  Even if you don't strike one of them, they can cause waves to form which could result in your kayak being upset in water just a few inches deep over sharp coral.  The first island has a wide sandy beach where it is relatively easy to land.  These islands are also bird sanctuaries and most of them are off limits for hiking.  We usually take drinks and snacks in a dry bag on the kayak and do some sunbathing while there.

Kauai: Wailua River You can rent kayaks several places near the river.  One vendor is close enough you can wheel your kayak to the launching area without having to load it on your car.  You must paddle up the north side of the river because the tour boats going to the Fern Grotto occupy the center of the river.  About one mile up the river, you can land and begin a one mile hike to a very pretty waterfall.  One word of caution is to watch your step when you get out of your kayak at the landing site.  I stepped out into 2 - 3 feet of water and promptly sank into about two feet of mud and silt.  You can avoid doing this by getting as close to the shore as possible before getting out.  The hike to the waterfall crosses several small streams.

Big Island: Kealakekua Bay  This is one place you will have to rent the kayak and take it to the launch area yourself.  Rental companies are not allowed to deliver them.  We have always rented at Kona Boys in upcountry on the way.  It is then a winding five mile drive to the launch site.  Launching from an old boat dock isn't as easy as other sites because you will need to use the straps that held the kayak on the car to lower or raise it in the water from the cement launch area.  It's about a one mile paddle straight across the bay to the area near the Captain Cook monument or a little further if you stay near the coastline.  On one of our trips, a school of spinner dolphins came very near our kayak doing exactly what they were named for.  They would jump from the water and spin around before falling back.  We normally snorkel several times near the monument before paddling back.

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