Chinaman's Hat Trail (Mokolii Island)

Phone (808) 587-4175
4.5 stars from 2 reviews
Address 49-479 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Tiny island off the east coast of Oahu that you can walk and swim to.

Features
• General: Cost: Free • Hiking: Hiking
• Hiking: Length: 0-1 Miles • Hiking: Level: Moderate
• Hiking: Out & Back Trail • Water Activities: Kayaking / Canoe
• Water Activities: Pool / Swimming

Matt Anderson's Take
Mokoli'i Island is a small island, also known as an islet, off the east coast of Oahu. It's common name is Chinaman's Hat in reference to the legend and mythology of Chinaman's Hat - The Giant Lizard. There is an actual hiking trail, of the liquid kind, that people use to get to the islet and then some trails on the islet itself.


First up, beyond our normal disclaimer of having your read Hiking Safety & Essentials, note that this "hike" isn't really a hike nor is it for everyone. In fact, unless you're an excellent swimmer and going with a group (safety in numbers) or are kayaking with a professional tour guide we highly suggest skipping this one. The ocean is an unpredictable thing, as is Hawaii Weather. Both can change without warning and turn an otherwise easy, peaceful journey into a very bad situation.


Since you'll be in the open ocean without any easy way to run back onto land, you should be aware of Shark Attacks In Hawaii, Hawaii Box Jellyfish, and Portuguese Man-O-War to name a few of the Hawaii Dangers - Read Before You Go. If you still decide to go, you're doing so at your own risk so remember that we tried to warn you if things go bad!


If you plan to walk you first need to figure out when low tide is and plan to arrive a bit before that time so you can set off with plenty of time to walk there, explore and hike the islet, and then walk back. You'll be starting from Kualoa Regional Park and Campground so park your car there. The walk / swim / kayak there is actually in the ocean so except shallow waters that probably only get a few feet deep at low tide. Swimming with fins is another option if the water levels aren't too low. A belly full of coral scratches isn't a great thing out here. Kayaking is probably the easiest option.


It's only about 0.4 miles each way so it should be an easy walk for adults but not at all recommended for children. You'll also want to check current ocean conditions and make sure there are no storms approaching and that the waters are calm. Even at low tide it's not a walk you should take if the water is too choppy or large waves are coming in.


Once on Mokoli'i Island you can explore the island a bit and hike up and around a bit and get some great views of Oahu as you work your way up the islet. If you plan to walk, you'll want some sort of footwear like a good pair of water socks / shoes to avoid sharp rocks as well as for hiking on the islet itself. Even if you kayak shoes are recommended. Also, make sure you pack out anything you brought with and leave the wildlife here alone.
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Matt Anderson
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Tom T
Joined: Sep 2013
Reviews: 579
Likes Received: 33
Chinaman's Hat has legend surrounding it. It's been said that there is a man sitting underneath the hat with a pipe in his mouth. I like that one.
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Consensus Guy
Joined: Jul 2013
Reviews: 11148
Likes Received: 26
Mokolii Island a.k.a. Chinaman's Hat Trail received an overall rating of 4.5 stars from over a dozen reviews.
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