Ahu o Laka: The Kane’ohe Sandbar!

Ahu o Laka: The Kane’ohe Sandbar!

The Sandbar!

The sandbar’s Hawaiian name, “Ahu o Laka” translates as “Altar of Laka”, Laka being a voyager of Hawaiian mythology who was said to have come from Maui but eventually sailed to Oahu and settled in the modern day ahupua’a (land division) known as Waikane, which is just north of Kane’ohe, and still on the coastline of Kane’ohe Bay, facing the sandbar.  

There is no other place in Hawai’i quite like the Kane’ohe Sandbar.  It is a special place historically and culturally, and today it is a favorite spot for locals and visitors to enjoy spending a day on the bay and take in some of the most breathtaking views on Oahu.  The sandbar is an absolute must-see gem for ocean lovers!

Kayaking to the Sandbar

By far the most frequently asked question we get is “how long will it take us to kayak to the sandbar?”  And the answer is we can never answer that question. 

We can tell you the distance: it’s roughly 1.5 miles each way, which will make the sandbar the farthest and therefore the most challenging destination.  No matter what the conditions, be ready for a workout paddling 3 miles roundtrip in ocean conditions.

Most days the sandbar is a reasonable destination for most people, but difficulty level does depend on the conditions.  Every day is different in terms of wind, current, and ocean conditions that will affect how long it will take, and everybody is different in terms of experience and ability level. 

We will give you a clear briefing of the day’s conditions and forecast and an idea of the relative difficutly level.  It’s best to time yourself going out so you can know how long it is taking, and always make sure to stay within your ability and comfort level.  However far you go, you have to make it back too!

When is the best time to kayak to the Sandbar?

There is never a bad time to kayak to the sandbar!  Most of the time the sandbar is just barely submerged, the shallowest areas anywhere from ankle-waist deep, depending on the tide.  You can always kayak there and stand in the sand, no matter the tide.  

Only during very extreme low tides does the sandbar becomes a completely dry beach over a mile out in the ocean!  These extreme tides coincide with full and new moons.  They vary throughout the year, and the time of day they occur changes seasonally.  We can help you determine the wind and tide forecast and pick the best time to get out there and experience the world-famous sandbar for yourself!

Snorkeling at the Sandbar

While the sandbar is certainly the most popular kayaking destination in Kane’ohe Bay, it may not be the best snorkeling site in the bay. 

The sandbar is a massive area, over a mile long and almost half a mile across.  It is mostly very shallow, and mostly sandy bottom.  You can certainly snorkel at the sandbar.  But if there is no coral reef present and you’re snorkeling in a shallow sandy area, you will most likely see less marine life than you would snorkeling at the edge of other patch reefs in the bay where there is more living coral. 

There will also usually be more boats and people at the sandbar than anywhere else in the bay.  It is a huge area, you won’t have any trouble finding plenty of room to do your own thing, but please always be mindful when kayaking and snorkeling to respect the space of others.