Flat Island, or Popoia Island, is a small islet off the windward east coast of Oahu that is home to the migratory seabird, the wedge-tailed shearwater.
The island is only located about 1/4 mile off from Kailua Beach Park. So, it makes the ideal destination for swimmers, paddlers, & kayakers looking for a quick & usually safe place to visit.
The island is not volcanic, but is actually fossilized coral reef bed. It is a state seabird sanctuary so permits are required for visiting the island.
Popoia, which translates to “fish rot” in Hawaiian, was aptly named by the Hawaiians of old because it had a fishing heiau, or temple on it where fisherman would bring their fishing tribute as an offering to the gods.
|Best time:||Low winds & Summertime|
This paddle & swim is located only a short distance from downtown Honolulu & Waikiki making it an ideal day trip to go & enjoy the beach from the hustle of the city.
Coming from town, take the Pali Hwy (if it’s open!) into Kailua town via Kailua Rd. Follow Kailua Rd. As it takes a right and then a left towards the ocean.
Address: 526 Kawailoa Rd, Kailua, HI 96734
Parking is free at the beach park, but it fills up almost daily. As long as you arrive early, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding parking.
The island is located closer towards the Lanikai side of Kailua Beach Park, so parking by the boat ramp is the most preferable location.
There are bathrooms & showers in Kailua Beach Park.
There’s also numerous convenience stores within walking distance including Kalapawai Market.
If you need to rent gear or get permits, you can park at the beach park & walk to Kailua Beach Adventures to get what you need.
- State Issued Permits (Get one from Kailua Beach Adventures!)
- Phone (For Pictures)
- Dry Bag
- Slippers or Water Shoes (The Island is sharp!)
Cautions & Hazards
Being on the windy side of the islands means that the trade winds commonly pick up in the late morning & blow hard through the early afternoon. Usually these winds blow directly against the shore though, so if you make it to the island, coming back is usually a breeze.
Although the Kailua Beach is a mainly sandy beach; the area around flat island has a lot of shallow reef around it. On days when the tide is low, you will need to avoid the coral reef.
Always something to look out for while paddling or kayaking here. The Portuguese Man-Of-War is a polyp (actually more closely related to coral!) and are notorious on the windward side. Despite not actually being a jellyfish, the Portuguese Man-Of-War has long tendrils that have a nasty sting. If you get stung by one of these guys, rinse it in warm water and do not use white vinegar or urine!
Tips, Links & Other Resources
- Kalapawai Market is down the street too. They are a local store with snacks, homemade deli food, sandwiches, groceries and a large selection of dry goods.
- Lanikai Brewing is a new microbrewery located in Kailua Town with some of the best local brews on the island of Oahu. Definitely worth a stop if you are headed back to Honolulu for the day.
- If you are looking for renting a kayak or SUP, Kailua Beach Adventures is within walking distance of Kailua Beach Park and is perfect to get the gear needed to adventure to the Mokuluas. They also issue the permits necessary to get to the islands.
- Across the street from Kailua Beach Park is Buzz’s Steakhouse, a famous spot with delicious food and beer. The perfect place for cooling down after a long day paddle and having a drink or two with friends.
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