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Kayak Routes on Oahu: Mamala Bay

Basic Information

  • Where: Mamala Bay
  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • More Information: Paddling Hawaii

Picture from Mamala Bay

Mamala Bay Kayak Route Map

Hickam Kayak Route

Narrative

In an effort to spend more time out on Hawaii’s beautiful water I decided to purchase my own kayak. After reading many reviews I decided to purchase a Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Inflatable Kayak:

Picture from Mamala Bay

I decided to purchase an inflatable kayak because of the space it saves in my garage while in storage.  To test out my new kayak I drove over to Ft. Kamehameha Beach located at Hickam Field with my wife and kids:

Fort Kamehameha is an old US Army coastal artillery base that played a significant role helping to repel Japanese fighter bombers during the Pearl Harbor attack.  You can read more about Fort Kamehameha at the below link:

Places On Oahu: Fort Kamehameha

Since Fort Kamehameha is located on Hickam Field which is a active US military installation, people looking to kayak here either need a military ID or request a pass for base entry at the visitor center located at the Pearl Harbor main gate entrance.  Fort Kamehameha Beach is a pretty low key beach with no facilities and thus not a lot of people there early in the morning:

Picture from Mamala Bay

I was able to get a parking spot right next to the water.  From there it took me about 15 minutes to put my kayak together to head out into Mamala Bay with my two young kids aboard the kayak:

Picture from Mamala Bay

Part of the bay includes the entrance into Pearl Harbor.  As I was paddling out into the bay I spotted what appeared to be a scientific or communications vessel with large antennas on it approaching Pearl Harbor:

Picture from Mamala Bay

Here is a picture of the vessel with its tugboat escorts entering into the Pearl Harbor channel while backdropped by the Waianae Range:

Picture from Mamala Bay

It is not unusual while at Fort Kamehameha Beach to see large naval vessels and submarines enter into Pearl Harbor which can be quite a sight.  Besides seeing boats enter into Pearl Harbor, Mamala Bay is also a great place to spot airplanes landing at the nearby airport:

Picture from Mamala Bay

For people looking for a quiet day out on the water Mamala Bay is not the place because every 5-10 minutes there is an aircraft landing at the airport.  However, I like spotting aircraft and waving shakas to welcome the tourists to Hawaii.  As I paddled to the west I eventually had to turn around because kayaks cannot cross the Pearl Harbor channel without permission.  Here is a picture I took of Iroquois Point on the opposite side of the channel from me before I turned around:

Picture from Mamala Bay

As I turned around and started paddling to the eastern section of Mamala Bay I could see Diamond Head Crater rising up over the city of Honolulu in the distance:

Picture from Mamala Bay

You can read more about Diamond Head Crater at the below link:

Best Hikes on Oahu: Diamond Head Crater Trail

As I paddled across Mamala Bay towards the airport my kids were pretending they were Maui and Moana on an outrigger canoe:

Unfortunately I had no magical fishhook to help me around Mamala Bay.  All I had was my paddle which I was getting a good work out from considering the additional weight I had to move with my two kids on the kayak.  As I paddled to the east I could see the various hangars from Hickam Field:

Picture from Mamala Bay

I next passed the small Hickam Beach:

Picture from Mamala Bay

I could also see the beautiful Ko’olau Range rising over the island in the distance:

Picture from Mamala Bay

As I approached the airport I could see the taxiway where airplanes were moving across to access the runway that was built on reclaimed land in Mamala Bay:

Picture from Mamala Bay

As I got close to the taxiway I waved a few farewell shakas to the people in the passing airplanes:

Picture from Mamala Bay

Here is a panorama picture I took of Mamala Bay from my kayak:

Picture from Mamala Bay

From the airport I then turned around and proceeded back to Fort Kamehameha Beach:

Picture from Mamala Bay

As I paddled back into the beach I noticed there was a lot more people that had arrived at the beach:

Picture from Mamala Bay

Conclusion

Overall I found Mamala Bay to be a really nice novice kayaking destination to try out my new kayak and spend some time with my two young kids.  There are very few waves to worry about and the water around Fort Kamehameha Beach is very shallow for a long ways out.  However, the water going east towards the airport in front of Hickam Beach is very deep.  That is why my kids and I were all wearing life jackets.  With that said the area around Mamala Bay is not the most scenic and there is the constant noise from aircraft that may not appeal to everyone.  Despite this my kids and I still had a great time out on the water.

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