The Chinaman’s Hat SUP Paddle starts at Kualoa Ranch in Kaneohe & goes out to a little island in the bay called Mokoli’i, also known among locals as Chinaman’s Hat. This paddle is a great workout on a windy day, or a fun leisurely paddle on a calm morning. It is a perfect way view the lush & beautiful mountains as you traverse through crystal clear waters in part of Oahu’s most untouched areas.
My favorite thing about Kualoa Ranch & Chinaman’s Hat is that you can avoid the tourist-filled areas & make an escape to find local eateries & fruit stands, watch the most brilliant sunrises, & see brighter stars at night without any light or sound pollution. The Chinaman’s Hat SUP Paddle is an open ocean paddle which brings unpredictability of the tide & winds. It is always something to respect & be aware of, however the paddle overall is fairly short & safe.
|Time:||35 mins (Without Hike)|
|Difficulty:||Beginner / Intermediate|
|Best time:||Early Morning & Late Afternoon|
Additionally on this paddle is one of the coolest hikes around once you get to the island. It would help to have some familiarity & comfortability with rock climbing or fairly moderate hikes. The walk up is pretty short, but almost a straight incline to the peak. There are several dirt paths & rocky routes to take but they are all just about the same as far as intensity.
The Chinaman’s Hat SUP Paddle starts at Kualoa Ranch, a popular spot for swimming, paddling, kayaking, snorkeling, lounging around on the beach, or having a potluck.
If you’re coming from town, hop on the H1 until it turns into Kalanianaole, & stay straight until you see the sign for Kualoa Ranch on your left. You will soon approach a parking lot on your right. There are plenty of signs & it’s hard to miss. You’ll also likely see the Chinaman’s Hat island coming into view.
If you’re coming from the north shore, hop on Kamehameha Hwy until you see Kualoa Regional Park on your left.
Address for GPS: 49-479 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
All the parking is free at Kualoa Regional Park Ranch. On the weekends, the lot may fill up if there is an outrigger canoe paddling race, or one of the events on the field that are hosted. On any normal day though (especially in the winter or early spring) you will almost never have to worry about finding a spot.
Walking to the water from the parking lot is an easy minute or two past the field & onto the sand.
There are public restrooms at the beach park, & showers further down the beach near the parking lot. There are several small fruit & concession stands down the road if you’re getting hungry or need a place to have a snack.
If you’re planning on hanging out for the day, feel free to bring your soccer ball, frisbee or other fun toys to play around in the field. Its a very family friendly place with ample open space for all kinds of activities.
- That’s it! It’s Hawai’i, it’s pretty chill here. Just make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen & bring a water bottle.
Cautions & Hazards
Being a coastal open ocean paddle, the Chinaman’s Hat SUP Paddle conditions are very dependent upon the swell, tide, & winds. The Kualoa Ranch area is notoriously windy being on the windward side & because the bay is not as protected by the mountains. Check the conditions below & always bring along a partner.
Jellyfish are always something to look out for while paddling here. Although you will rarely see many unless you head more toward the southeast side. The Portuguese Man-Of-War jellyfish are very dangerous & travel with the wind. They roll up on the beach & can be anywhere from microscopic to the size of a coaster. They have long, thin, venom filled tendrils used to paralyze other fish. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly. Medical assistance can be provided by the lifeguards if you do not bring your own pack.
Wind & Kite Surfers
The wind conditions are always great in Kaneohe near where we did the Chinaman’s Hat SUP Paddle. You’ll likely be sharing the bay with wind & kite surfers. They’ll almost always be further out unless they’re launching, but just practice common water courtesy as always.
Lifeguards are on duty all day on the shore. Should you have any questions about the conditions, general tips regarding ocean safety, jellyfish, or best paddling times these guys are the best of the best & are always happy to keep you safe & informed.
Tips, Links & Other Resources
- Down the road from Kaneohe is this great food spot called Ai Love Nalo. They serve delicious food at a great price. Everything served there is vegan, but you would never know the difference. Check out their instagram here.
- On the side of the road coming back toward Waimanalo from Kaneohe is Waiahole Poi Factory, & they have the best Poi around. We stopped there for a quick snack after our paddle.
Don’t forget to leave me a comment with your experience or knowledge below on the Chinaman’s Hat SUP paddle! If you have a question, write it here or in the comments below!
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