10 Best Kayaking Destinations In Hawaii


When you think of Hawaii the first thing that often comes to mind to most people is volcanic mountains, stunning beaches, and of course, surfing.

However other than riding the waves on a surfboard, there are areas where the waters are calm and beautiful and where you can take your kayak and explore.

These are the 10 best destinations for kayaking in Hawaii.

1. Kaneohe Bay-Oahu

If there is one thing that the Oahu island is known for then it’s got to be the beaches and the bay. It is one of the calmer areas of Hawaii making it the perfect destination for a kayaking adventure.

If you are a beginner kayaker then the bay is an excellent place to learn how to kayak while enjoying all the sights that surround you.

It is 40 feet deep and up to 8 miles long. You can even pack your snorkel mask and do a bit of snorkeling before getting back on top of your yak and continuing with your exploration.

But perhaps the main thing that Kaneohe Bay is known for is the barrier reefs. There are two of them, one at the archipelago and the other near Molokai island.

Here you can spot large schools of parrotfish, mahi-mahi, hammerhead sharks, and Aku.

2. Honolua Bay-Maui

Now, this bay is always active with snorkelers and surfers. However, kayakers can also join in on the fun. Being part of the Mokuleia marine life conservation area, it has plenty of spectacular sights to enjoy. The waters here are under protection which makes them rich with marine life plus some very large coral reefs.

The best type of kayak to bring with you or rent out is a sit on top kayak. Something to always keep in mind is that the kayak rentals will only be available in summer. This is because the waters here can get quite wavy during the winter.

Owing to the regular cleaning of the bay, you can always view the coral reefs. With animals such as the surgeonfish, the box turtles, butterflyfish, as well as box turtles and barracuda.

3. Napali Coast

In Kuai there are also some amazing cliffs to sightsee and you can view these from your kayak at Napali coast. Keep in mind that you will need a bit of ocean kayaking skills as the waters here can get a bit rough. Always read through the safety information for ocean kayaking.

Forget about getting here by road as there are no roads that lead directly to the Napali Coast. You will only make the most of it by ditching the roads and taking your ocean kayak for a paddle.

Many kayakers who visit the area are always looking forward to paddling from Haena Beach to Polihale state park, a 20-mile stretch that will often require a full day of kayaking Hawaii.

On route, you will see the Napali coastline cliffs, waterfalls, and valleys that are lush with foliage. You are also likely to view bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, striped dolphins, killer whales and if you are lucky, you may see the biggest animal on the planet, the blue whale.

4. Mokulua Islands-Oahu

Yet another awesome paddling destination is Mokulua Islands, two twin islands situated in Lanikai beach. And of course, to get to these islands, there is no better way than to use the ocean kayak.  And you don’t always have to bring your kayak. You can easily rent one at Kailua beach and enjoy the rest of the day near the Mokulua islands.

5. The Wailua river-Kuai


You may think of carrying your ocean kayak when visiting Hawaii. However, there are still rivers here that you can kayak in. One of the best is the Wailua river in Kuai. It is quite long with a 20-mile stretch and having a relatively gentle current.

And further up the river is a sight unlike any other in Hawaii. Two waterfalls feed into the river—the Opaekaa Falls and the Wailua Falls. There is also the Nounou mountain better known as the sleeping giant to view.

Coupled with being an excellent spot for kayaking in Hawaii, the Wailua River is also great for taking your paddleboard and canoe. While you are kayaking here, you might want to visit the Uluwehi falls, the bird refuge, or the nearby Hawaiian village. Remember, always observe kayaking safety.

6. Hanalei River

The birth of the Hanalei river is from the highest mountain in Hawaii. It flows north through the Hanalei national park and ends up on the Hanalei bay.

Many avid kayakers will have a great time following the river and also ending their kayaking Hawaii trip at the Hanalei Bay, a trip that may be several miles but filled with awesome sights of the country and local wildlife. Plus you get to enjoy the 10 health benefits of kayaking and canoeing.

7. Kealakekua Island

If you enjoy kayaking with dolphins swimming all around you, then you may want to visit Kealakekua bay on the big island. Once you have secured a kayaking permit, you can have the best time paddling along the waters near the Kona coast.

This is also a popular spot to do some fishing from the ocean fishing kayak so if this is what you fancy, you may need to bring along a special fishing kayak specifically for this. You can reel in some big fish such as yellowfin tuna or ono. It is always fun sharing the experience with other like-minded folk so consider getting in contact with a kayak fishing crew.

8. Anahulu river

One of the best things about taking your kayak on a river is that the currents are not too strong compared with the ocean and another great river destination in Hawaii is the Anahulu River. Here you will spot green sea turtles swimming close to the surface they make their way upstream for some delish pickings at the bottom of the river.

Depending on your preferences you may decide to cover the one-mile trip in between 30 minutes to an hour. As the river continues, it flows out into Haleiwa park which also happens to be an excellent spot for snorkeling.

9. Kailua Bay and Lanikai

The Kailua Bay and Lanikai are set close to the windward coast of Oahu. Here you can take your recreational kayak across crystal clear waters that are stunning. Through the bay, you can also paddle to nearby islands that are protected as bird sanctuaries.

The area around has plenty of kayaks renting shops so you don’t have to worry about getting the best sea kayak for your trip. Once you are on Kailua beach you may just decide to visit Popoia also known as a flat island by the locals a journey of a round trip that is just a mile long from shore.

10. Olowalu

There are some huge coral heads in Olowahu which in turn draws in some spectacular marine life. It’s no wonder that many snorkelers and divers choose this spot.  However, Olowahu is an excellent spot for kayaking in Hawaii as well as offering some breathtaking views of the surrounding Islands and marine life.

As you kayak in the clear waters, you can spot turtles going about their day completely carefree.

Globo Surf Overview

Hawaii is packed with plenty of awesome places for kayaking Hawaii. Don’t let the high waves and the surfboards fool you as there are still places where the water is calm and is perfectly suited for kayaking adventures.

More Kayak Reviews:


  1. Kayaking the Napali coast, hawaii.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!