About Kane’ohe Bay

Welcome to Kane’ohe Bay, the calmest, most protected bay on Oahu’s windward side!

This ocean paradise is where you’ll find the one-and-only Kane’ohe Sandbar!  But there is so much more to see and explore!  Dozens of unique patch reefs made of pristine living coral offer unparalled snorkeling.

These reefs also provide habitats for amazing marine life from the tiniest reef fish to giant sea turtles and manta rays!  And because of how remote and isolated Hawai’i is, roughly 25% of the marine life you’ll see here doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world!

Add to that such unique places as Coconut Island and He’eia Fishpond, and you’ll see why Kane’ohe Bay is the best place on Oahu for a kayak and snorkel adventure!

Kane’ohe Bay Origin

Kane’ohe Bay is the largest bay on Oahu’s windward coast.  It’s Hawaiian name, “Ka Waha o Ka Mano” means “the mouth of the shark”!  

Kane’ohe Bay, like all of Oahu’s windward side, was formed when the Ko’olau shield volcano collapsed over 2 million years ago in an event called the Nu’uanu Avalanche.  A massive piece of Oahu fell into the ocean, remnants of which can be found on the seafloor over 100 miles to the northeast of our windward coast!  Depressions left just below sea level became bays, and volcanic rock outcroppings at the outer edge of these bays became “barrier reefs” of sorts, protecting the shallower bays from open ocean swell and wave conditions.

Most Unique Bay on Oahu’s Windward Coast

The shape and size of Kane’ohe Bay and its outer reef are truly unique, and this is by far the calmest, most protected bay on Oahu!  Even when winter swell and wave conditions affect other bays up and down the coast, Kane’ohe Bay is as flat as a lake.  No waves, calm shoreline, and no strong current (other than wind generated current) make for ideal kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, and boating conditions.  And Kane’ohe Bay is famous for all of these activities.

Because of how protected this bay is, instead of sandy beach, we have fringing reef, a stretch of shallow reef flat area that surrounds almost all of Kane’ohe Bay’s coastline.  The fringing reef itself is a habitat for astonishing marine life.

Reef and Marine Life Like Nowhere Else on Oahu

Kane’ohe Bay is home to an amazing amount and variety of marine life.  Calm, protected waters at just the right depth, temperature, and clarity allowed dozens of unique patch reefs to grow.  Formed by corals multiplying, growing on top of each other, and spreading over time, these reefs provide a habitat for everything from the tiniest reef fish, sea cucumbers, and urchins to giant sea turtles and manta rays!

Kane’ohe Bay is truly an underwater paradise.  But none of that would be possible without the coral.  Coral reefs are the foundation of all of this life.  Coral itself is a living animal (actually a great community of tiny animals) even if it just looks like rock.  Coral reefs take decades, even hundreds and thousands of years to grow, and they are very easily damaged by our impact.  Check out our Kane’ohe Bay marine life page to learn more about coral and why it is so important.