While Jesus is the only one who walked on water (well and Peter for a second) being at the Kaneohe Sandbar feels a little like following in his footsteps. At low tide we waded through idyllic waters almost 2 miles offshore. The ocean is crystalline, the views toward the island inspiring and the atmosphere peaceful. We’ve shuttled out there by boat and kayak and there are advantages to both. Boats line up and anchor just off the sandbar at the deeper shelf. So on busy weekends there will be a row of revelers with floaties, beach chairs, even grills! It reminds me of weekends at the lake. Music plays, burgers are grilled and kids splash around. Fun for some, but I tend to look for quieter, calmer venues.
Taking the kayak out allowed more flexibility for where we went. Once we arrived at the sandbar we jumped out and pulled the kayak behind as we searched out the perfect spot. We anchored out in the middle for a quick bite and then scoped out a place to snorkel. The only locations with underwater interest are along the edges of the sandbar where it drops off into deeper waters. Turtles love the sandbar and we saw at least a dozen on one occasion. And don’t let them fool you. Green sea turtles are fast! If they don’t want you in their space they’ll jet off in the blink of an eye. Turtles aren’t the only marine life we found: Triggerfish, butterfly fish and wrasse are in abundance. Summertime is hammerhead shark pupping season, which I was looking forward to. Sadly, we did not run into any, but a shark encounter isn’t on everyone’s bucket list.Some things to keep in mind:
- Absolutely no shade and the reflection from the water will make for a nasty sunburn if you’re not on top of your sun protection. Don’t rely on sunscreen alone. Wear a hat, cover up with a shirt with some SPF, umbrella, canopy . . . you get the idea.
- Use a dry bag and bring snacks. Especially if you kayak. You’ll be hungry and even at a steady row you’re looking at at least 30 to 45 minutes out there.
- Speaking of kayaking, if you put in at He’eia Kea Harbor there’s a little spot just to the north of the harbor where they keep the outrigger canoes and it’s the best place to launch. Paddle out through the deeper waters near the pier, especially at low tide or you’ll get stuck on the reef.
- If the entire trip to the sandbar is more than you’re wanting to tackle, or you’re short on time, there’s a small reef near shore. Just launch and head about 2000 feet north along the shoreline. We call this the “minibar.” The snorkeling is great and perfect if the weather looks like it might turn on you or the waves are a bit too rough for the longer trek.
- Skip the boat and go for the kayak. There are plenty of rentals. My favourite is Kailua Beach Adventures. Super helpful and affordable.
- Always check the tides. At the front end going into a low tide is optimal. If you end up out there right at low tide you’ll find the water quickly covering your waist. Don’t worry, it never gets too deep. Either way, go as early as possible at the lowest tide. As the day wanes, the people will arrive.
- If you’re up for adventure and really want to leave the crowds behind, head to Kapapa Island just past the sandbar. I cover this little slice of heaven here.
- If you opt for the boat, circle around to a less populated part of the sandbar. Most will park it as soon as they come to the sandbar. Take your time and find that perfect secluded haven.