Located off the coast of Oahu, the Mokula Islands, affectionately known as "The Mokes" to locals and outdoor enthusiasts, can be reached by paddleboard from the coast of Kailua. There are two Mokes, the larger of which is known as Moku Nui, and the smaller of which is known as Moku Iki. The smaller island is off-limits to tourists, but the larger is a stunning place to spend time relaxing on the beach and exploring the rocky terrain. Paddling to Moku Nui requires that one be in moderate physical condition, but it is not a terribly treacherous endeavor in terms of skill. This makes it a suitable endeavor for beginner paddleboarders.
Packing Your Board
Unless you plan on paddling to the island and coming straight back (and where's the fun in that?), you're going to want to bring some items along with you for the trip. Invest in a cargo net for your paddleboard, so you can safely bring these items along with you. A suction cup holder for your water bottle is also a good idea; you'll get pretty hot paddling in the Hawaiian sun, and you need to stay hydrated. In your cargo net, make sure you bring:
- Sunscreen. You're going to be out there for a while, so you'll want to reapply it.
- Flip flops or beach shoes. Most people prefer to paddleboard barefoot, but you'll want some shoes for exploring the island.
- A towel. You'll want to lay on the beach when you're tired from boarding.
- A waterproof camera. If you have a mountable, waterproof camera, you can even purchase a suction cup adapter to mount it on your board.
- Some snacks. Visit a local sporting goods store to find a waterproof case to pack them in, and then stow it inside of your cargo net.
For more tips on paddleboard accessories that may be useful, you should talk to an experienced paddleboarder or visit a local sporting goods store.
Although you will see some paddleboarders launching at Kailua Beach, a better place to start your ride, especially if you're a beginner, is at Lanikai Beach, located just past Kailua Beach. At Lanikai, there is no heavy wave break, so you have to fight fewer waves as you mount your paddleboard. The beach is also quieter and less populated than Kailua Beach, which means you'll have an easier time finding a clear place to launch on busy weekend days and holidays.
Enjoying the Ride
Once you're on your board and paddling along, it should take you between 30 and 45 minutes to reach Moku Nui, depending on your fitness level and whether you push yourself or take the time to enjoy the ride. The sun can get pretty hot on the ride, so make sure your water is within easy reach so you can bend down and grab a swig when you're thirsty. Remember to push the blade completely under the surface of the water in order to get the most out of each stroke. Paddling 4 - 5 strokes on one side before switching sides is a good strategy for conquering long distances while maintaining a relatively straight line.
Relaxing on Moku Nui
Paddle along, and in no time, you'll be on the shores of Moku Nui. A sandy beach stretches across the Oahu-facing side of the island, so going aground is easy. Paddle in until you can see the sand beneath the water level, and then dismount your board.
Once you're on the island, you have your choice of activities. Relax on the sandy beach while looking back towards the island of Oahu, or go for a little swim. If you feel like hiking, there is a trail leading off of the beach and towards the back side of the island. You will find rock faces to walk along as well as a cove at the back of the island, where many adventurous visitors cliff jump into the water.
Your day on Moku Nui is sure to be a memorable one. Explore until your heart is content, and then climb back on your board and paddle back to Lanikai Beach. Don't forget to take some awesome pictures along the way!