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Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure

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As luck would have it, we were in “Paradise” for our 15th wedding anniversary.  Over the past number of years, we were in serious saving mode for this trip so often didn’t do much to celebrate our anniversary.  But this anniversary was different.  We were on the beautiful island of Oahu, along with many others who were on their honeymoon or celebrating their own anniversary, and we weren’t going to let the opportunity to do something special pass us by.

Hawaii has so much to experience on land and water; sandy beaches, beautiful blue ocean, hot and sunny weather that warms you to your inner core, and spectacular lush tropical scenery. So naturally we were looking to enjoy all these aspects of Hawaii.

Our family has freshwater kayaking experience, but other than Aurora, we have never kayaked in an ocean/sea. Aurora had the opportunity to kayak in the Mediterranean Sea during a sports summer camp while we were in Almunecar, Spain.  So the chance to kayak in the Pacific Ocean was definitely something we wanted to try, and the Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure had a tour perfect for our family.

The kayak & snorkel tour package with Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure included everything, all we had to do was show up (as a mom and family travel planner, I love tours like this). For our family organized tours like this often the best way for us to experience things, versus us trying to arrange everything ourselves (arranging transport, finding the location, and purchasing tickets can be difficult).  Our tour included:  pick up at our condo; a friendly driver taking us to our destination while sharing interesting local and historical information about Oahu Island; orientation on kayaking, snorkeling, marine life, water safety, all equipment, and beverages, snacks and a BBQ lunch (including accommodation for Aurora’s vegetarian diet).

Our day started by being picked, followed by a scenic and informative drive to the north side of the island and He’eia National Park were we received an orientation to the day. Following that we went down to the shore to get our two person kayaks.  Because it was a long distance to the snorkeling area we were towed part way to ensure we had enough energy left after snorkeling for our long paddle all the way home.  At first we thought being towed would steal away part of the kayaking experience, however we really enjoying the ride.  It was a unique experience and I’m sure a funny sight for locals, to see two long strings of kayaks being towed out of the bay and to sea.  But being towed gave us the chance to take in the scenery, snap a few photos, get to know the other tour guests and it also gave us more time to snorkel.


Scenic drive to He’eia National Park


Great Orientation


And off we go into the middle of the Pacific Ocean

Before long, the boat stopped in the middle of the ocean and the guides quickly began unhooking the kayaks. As we were near the end of the row we were almost last getting unhooked.  By this time there were a dozen kayaks sprinkled in the ocean, all trying to get their bearings, before making our way to Coconut Island. The area is home to Oahu Island’s only barrier reef that is sheltered from open ocean swell, which apparently also results in a greater variety of marine life.  Coconut Island is a small island that is also home to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, where a lot of marine research and observation is done.  The Kama’aina Kids agency is the sole agency/company that has permission to bring customers in to kayak and snorkel in that protected area of Kane’ohe Bay.  Len and Noah were in one kayak and Aurora and I in another.  It was a typical girls against the boys race to Coconut Island.  I have to admit, we just couldn’t get out rhythm, we circled a few times, but slowly Aurora and I safely made it.

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Once we arrived at the Island, we beached our kayaks and had a quick snack and drink before getting suited up to go snorkeling. It didn’t take us long to get into the water to begin exploring what lies beneath.  By this time the wind has picked up a little making it more difficult to snorkel and see very much. We did get to see a variety of colorful tropical fish and many different types and colors of coral.  Noah and Aurora also managed to spot a turtle.

Our guide told us that the United States Navy, during the 2nd World War, dredged out a channel through the bay.  Obviously that was done previous to our eco-friendly marine conservation times, and I imagine this had a dramatic effect upon marine life in the area.  I suppose it could have had both positive and negative effects on the reef and its associated life. Possibly, that is one of the many things the Institute is studying.


Fun time snorkeling together.

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Celebrating our Wedding Anniversary

We were happy with the underwater world that we saw while we snorkeled around the reef. I will admit, the kayaking back to the bay was a little more difficult.  It was windy and we were a little tired.  We felt a little rushed kayaking back and wished we could have gone a little slower and enjoyed a moment a little more.


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Once we had returned we ha had a great BBQ lunch, shared stories with fellow group members before we all piled into the van for our return trip home.

Another cool tidbit of this tour is that Coconut Island is where some scenes of the television series, Gilligan’s Island, were filmed. I can hear the theme song now… and I remember watching so many episodes of the show as a kid.  We weren’t lucky enough to see the filming locations (a sandy beach and the lagoon) because they are protected areas where tourists can’t go.  Despite that, I was close enough for me to feel a little rush of nostalgia because I was on and snorkeled around the Island where Gilligan’s Island was filmed.  Another cool experience to chalk up on our RTW journey.

We were very pleased with or experience of the Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure and would like to compliment all the staff of Kama’aina Kids, especially our two guides, Bailey and Bruno.   They made the tour top notch.  In addition it was the first tour/experience of our RTW travel in which we were given tour photos for free, which was an incredibly nice touch to finish off the tour.  We’ve become tired with tourist companies who snap your photo, give you a ticket to claim the photos and then charge an insane amount to purchase them.  Thank you Kama’aina Kids for giving us a wonderful tour and treasured memories.

We really enjoyed the tour. We had an amazing experience seeing some of Hawaii’s paradise from on top the water by kayak and then below the waterline, with snorkel gear.  It really felt like an adventure to us, and we would be happy to go back and experience it again.  It was the perfect way to experience Hawaii’s incredibly beautiful scenery and to mark our 15th Wedding Anniversary.  I love making these kind of memories as a family.


Thank you Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure.

Contact & Agency Information:

Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure is operated by a Non-Profit Agency, Kama’aina Kids, which runs the He’eia Learning Centre. Kama’aina Kids is an agency that provides youth with educational, environmental and recreational water activities.  So the fact that we could have a kayaking and snorkeling experience, with our tourist spending supporting a Non-Profit Youth Organization, was a great bonus.

Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure, 46 – 465 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, Hawaii, 96674
Hours of operation: Monday to Saturday 8am to 4pm (closed Sundays and State Holidays)
Reservations by phone (808) 781-4773 – 7am to 9pm.
Email:   kayak@heeiastatepark.org
Fax (808) 235-6519

This is the experience and opinion of The Family Bucketeers only, who are not employees or representatives of Kama’aina Kids and we do not represent or guarantee the same experience for you should you partake in the Holokai Kayak & Snorkel Adventure.