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Nā Mokulua — The Two Islands or The Mokes

Nā Mokulua, meaning “the two islands” in Hawai’ian, are two islets off the windward coast of O‘ahu. They are commonly referred to as the Twin Islands or The Mokes.


Located about one mile (1.6 km) off Lanikai Beach, the islands are popular for photographs. Both islands are seabird sanctuaries protected by the state of Hawai’i, but the beach on North Mokulua is open to the public during the day.

Mokes Hawaii

The larger island on the north side is Mokulua Nui or Moku Nui. It is a volcanic cone with two peaks about 1,000 feet (305 m) by 800 feet (244 m) in size. The highest point reaches about 225 feet (69 m). You’ll find a sandy beach on the west side, while the north, east, and southeast sides are made of steep cliffs.

The interior of Moku Nui is off limits to visitors, as well as all of Mokulua Iki or Moku Iki, the smaller southern island. Moku Iki has an elevation of about 150 feet (46 m) and it is about 875 feet (267 m) by 700 feet (213 m) in size. The west side has a rocky coral beach. Consider snorkeling to the Mokulua islands of Oahu.

When the ocean and winds are calm, it is fairly easy for paddlers or kayaks to reach the Mokuluas. Depending on your experience and the ocean conditions, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to get there. Kayaks can be rented at Kailua Beach. It is important to note that when surf is up, even just a little, paddling out to the Mokuluas can be quite difficult.

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From the open ocean, the waves approach the islands and wrap around them to the left and to the right. In the path normally taken to reach the islands, the waves clash together. The current can be quite strong on some days. Although from the shore it may look calm and flat, when away from shore, the waves may suddenly become much larger. It is important to note that there are no lifeguards.

If you do venture out to the Mokuluas, you are likely see green sea turtles, wedge-tailed shearwaters, and rock crabs. This is also a popular place to snorkel because of the old underwater lava formations. For those who enjoy rock climbing, there is a trail on the back side of Moku Nui. To get there, go to the south (right) side of the island and continue around to the back.



  • Elizabeth L

    Aloha! I’m Elizabeth L. At LiveYourAloha, I am responsible for writing about sightseeing tours and Hawaiian culture. For the last 12 years, I’ve been working as a tour guide in Hawaii. It’s been a great way to see the world and learn about new cultures. I love nature and the outdoors, and have even climbed two of the world’s highest peaks! Making connections and showing my visitors the incredible beauty of these beautiful islands is a passion of mine. When I’m not out giving tours, you’ll likely find me on an invigorating hike or enjoying local cuisine on the beach.