Hawaii Paddling advice

So I am looking to do some mellow kayaking on Oahu (spending 3 weeks) and the big island (one week). I want to keep it beginner friendly, open water isn’t really my thing and I have some cardiac issues that are still being diagnosed. I will have my sister along who is a novice paddler. So I’m just focusing on day trips in protected areas, envisioning a bay that rents sit on top with snorkeling possibilities. Typically I paddle rivers and and put a premium on scenery but options look very limited for inland paddling and I am looking for specific suggestions…just keep it mellow.

Waikiki Beach has snorkeling rentals galore, and I’d be surprised if SOT kayaks are not also in the mix. At least, they used to, and the rates to rent snorkel gear were supercheap. I mean like $2 per hour or something like that.

At that time (1987), Hanauma Bay was a big draw for snorkeling, due to easy access right along a busy tourist strip, and because it was relatively safe. The variety and sheer abundance of flamboyantly colored fish made it feel like being in a giant tropical aquarium, Fantastic! Check whether it is still like that; I’ve heard that invasive lionfish are driving out other species in many similar waters.

There were warnings of an “undertow” (might not be the correct term) but officials had installed lines just below water surface so that snorkelers who noticed they were getting pulled farther out than desired could pull themselves back with those,

I stress the word noticed. Snorkelers still have to pay attention, as anywhere else.

It was paddling a rented SOT on Molokai that made me decide to buy a kayak, Something tells me that being on, in, or under water via any mode anywhere in Hawaii is enough to hook many people! Wish I was there now.

If open water isn’t your thing Oahu and the Big Island are not going to have a lot of options. I’m not very familiar with Oahu, and I don’t know of any river tours or large sheltered bays. If you are going in the winter months you probably know that any beach that has Northern Exposure and to a lesser extent Western or Eastern exposure in the Winter are open to massive Northern Arctic swells that drive enormous waves at the famous surf breaks. The southern beaches like Waikiki may be OK some days during your trip. There used to be a really good kayak store called Gobananas on Oahu, they might help you out in finding a spot.

I did a pretty long tour around the Big Island and did not really encounter much in the way of rivers for kayaking or sheltered bays. Kealakekua Bay where Captain Cook was killed, is sheltered from the North, you can rent kayaks there and it’s a pleasant place to paddle. The put in may be more excitement than you looking for, google for videos on youtube to see what I mean. The harbor area in Kona was pretty calm in January. There are small harbors around Hilo where you can rent a kayak. Most of the coastline around the big Island is pretty rugged. The Big Island is really nice for other activities, beautiful place.

On Kauai the south coast near Poipu can be calm and there used to be kayaking whale watch tours from Kalua Landing and Poipu. The area around Nāwiliwili harbor and the adjacent bay is very sheltered in the winter time, propably your best winter time bet. There were kayak rentals at the harbor and the bay. There are two great river paddle trips one close to Hanelei ( I heard this has been curtailed to limit environmental impact) and the Wailu River ( this can be a mass of tourists.) If you can do the Hanelei River ( I believe that is what it is called) it is really nice.

thanks for the mellow suggestions I’ll follow them up with some internet research.

Hawaii is a water wonder land. Be aware of tidal changes in bays and lagoons.
Out going tides can produce major rips at outlets in the coral.
Paddle on in coming tide or slack.

Snorking from a kayak in Hawaii is more complicated than it might seem. You’ll need an anchor, with several feet of chain and at least five times as much rope as the water depth. And in areas with good snorking, anchoring might be prohibited because it damages the coral.

I suggest that you use tourist webpages to arrange a boat trip for snorkling. The best views are when the sun is high. Make sure to take water-resistant suntan lotion and cover-up clothes. Then rent a kayak for some paddling, perhaps from Kailua Beach on Oahu, preferably in the morning when the winds are usually lower and the sun is less burning. Remember, paddling into a brisk breeze is hard work. Enjoy!

I believe Hawaii put severe limits on what sunscreens are permitted for use due to coral being damaged? Suggest you check before bringing sunscreen from the mainland.