Mokoliʻi. Island in Oahu, Hawaii

Mokoliʻi

Island in Oahu, Hawaii

#025 Mokoli‘i and Kāne‘ohe Bay Photo © Nemo's great uncle

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Mokoliʻi

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Kualoa Beach Park: Mokoli'i - Mokoliʻi
Kualoa Beach Park: Mokoli'i - Mokoliʻi. Photo by Cheryl Hammond
Mokoli’i means ‘little lizard’ in Hawaiian. The name derives from the myth that Goddess Hi’iaka (Wikipedia Article), the patron goddess of Hawaii and hula dancing, was chased by a giant lizard as she passed through Kualoa. Terrified of the giant lizard, she killed it and threw it off to the ocean. The islet is what’s left of the lizard – its tail. Mokoli’i however is more popularly known as the ‘China Man’s Hat’ since it resembles the pointy cone-shaped Asian headwear.

Mokoli’i is clearly visible as one enters the Kaneohe Bay. It is located across a large park with a few coconut trees. One can get a lengthy view of it as one drives through the bay which is just along the national highway. On the other side of the road, across Kualoa Park, is the large Kualoa mountain range.

The China Man’s Hat is a small islet that one can go up and around in literally a few minutes. It is 12.5 acres wide and the highest point is 63 meter. The island has 72 plant species including Cyperus javanicus, Scaevola taccada, Sida fallax, Lantana camara, Spanish needles, and Christmasberry. There used to be a few number of bird species that nested in Mokoli’i. However, due to the presence of black rats and yellow crazy ants, many of the other foul inhabitants of the islet disappeared. Today, only the Wedge-tailed Shearwater nests in the China Man’s Hat. The marine life around Mokoli’i is very rich. There is a wider diversity of fish and corals on the reefs. One could easily spot hammerheads on the ocean nearby. They are said to be harmless.

 - Mokoliʻi
Mokoliʻi. Photo by Sean Munson


In the islet, there are 2 small beaches and sea caves. At the peak of the China Man’s Hat is a scenic view of the Koolau Mountains and the Windward Coast. The Mokapu Peninsula, also known as ‘Kamehameha’s Turtle’, is picturesquely visible as well. According to legend, the turtles (Mokapu Peninsula) guard a confidential underwater tunnel. It is quite an interesting myth since today, Kamehameha’s Turtle is a marine base.

Most people come here for the adventure. The little islet can be reached by crossing from Kualoa Park. People can take a boat, kayak, or swim across. On occasions when the tide is low, it is possible to walk across from Kualoa Park to the China Man’s Hat. The wading takes up to 45 minutes with Mokoli’i and Kualoa Park’s distance being 450 meter. For security reasons, those that cross the islet from the park should be aware of the tide’s timetable and bring kayaks and surfboards with them. Wearing shoes or reef walkers is advised to avoid being cut by sharp corals.

Besides boating, swimming, and wading to Mokoli’i, there are not so many other alternative activities. These options however take some time due to its enjoyableness and people could always relax right across Mokoli’i at Kualoa Park. Some couples and families have picnics at the park, while the others go across the ranch on the other side of the highway. Kualoa Ranch has horses and offers horseback rides. There are also food and beverages inside. Not too far from Mokoli’i, Kualoa Park, Kuala Ranch, and mountain ranges, is the Windward Mall. South to Kualoa is the main city, Honolulu. It is best for shopping and finding hotel accommodations. For more water adventures and beautiful beaches, one can head up North. On the North Shore is the Polynesian Cultural Center, a themed park for the Polynesian life and islands; Laie Point, which is a scenic cliff and diving spot; Sunset Beach where one can certainly get a glimpse of the sunset (it is not visible in other beaches); and Waimea Valley, Falls, and Beach.

Around the world, there are a few other famous islets. In Australia, there is a small, exotic-looking island called the Ball’s Pyramid. In Italy, there is the very popular Montecristo Island which history dates back up to the Iron Age. In Spain, there is the Isla de Alboran, Île Vierge in France, Isla Salas y Gómez (Wikipedia Article) in Chile, and Liancourt Rocks in Japan and Korea.

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Author: kimn. Last updated: Feb 25, 2015

Pictures of Mokoliʻi

Mokoliʻi
Mokoliʻi. Photo by Sean Munson

Kāneʻohe Bay - Mokoliʻi
Kāneʻohe Bay - Mokoliʻi. Photo by John Pastor

Mokoliʻi
Mokoliʻi. Photo by Sean Munson

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