FAQ and Policies
Cancelations made the day of or day before the reservation date are nonrefundable. In order to receive a refund for canceling, the cancelation must be confirmed by 4:00pm HST two days prior to the reservation at the latest. Emails and voicemails left after we close will not be acknowledged until we open the following morning.
Weather Related Cancelations
We operate rain or shine as long as the observed conditions and forecast on the morning of meet our criteria for being safe and reasonable to let people go kayaking. There is almost always a chance of rain, and kayaking in the ocean is an activity that involves getting wet. We do not cancel or approve refunds on the day of because of rain or chance of rain.
We do have specific criteria defined that would warrant us canceling your reservation due to weather and/or ocean conditions. We do not make the decision to cancel until the morning of because forecasts can often be unpredictable, they can change overnight, and they can be wrong. We do not cancel based on forecasts before observing the conditions on the morning of.
If the observed conditions on the morning of meet our criteria for being potentially unsafe or unreasonable, then we notify all reservations at that time, and the cancelation is fully refundable under those circumstances if we are not able to reschedule.
We will cancel (but hopefully be able to reschedule) under the following conditions: observed thunder/lightning conditions (exceedingly rare in Hawaii), a high wind advisory, a brown water advisory issued for our specific location ONLY IF we observe flooding/runoff to be significantly altering the water quality. Keep in mind that often brown water advisories are issued for general regions, but specifically state that all waters may not be affected.
Small craft and high surf advisories are very common, but do NOT impact the protected waters of Kane’ohe Bay. We do not cancel or approve refunds due to small craft or high surf advisories.
Your safety is our top priority. We would not allow anybody to go on the water if we felt the conditions or forecast could be potentially dangerous or unreasonable for people to handle. That said, keep in mind this is a wilderness adventure activity. And as such it is subject to wind, rain, current, and changing conditions. It may be physically strenuous, and not all destinations will be suitable for all paddlers on all days. It is each individual’s responsibility to be aware of the conditions and forecast, and to not exceed their ability and comfort level.
Reserving More Than You Need
We have a limited number of kayaks available. And we do regularly become fully booked and have to turn people away. For that reason, if you reserved more kayaks than you end up needing, you may take only what you need, but we do not refund on the day of for any reason if you need less than you reserved. Make sure you are reserving the proper number of kayaks for the number of people in your party.
Our age limit to go out in a kayak is 3 and up. In addition, all participants must weigh at least 30lbs and be able to properly wear a life jacket rated for at least 30-50lbs. All participants also possess basic swimming ability, regardless of age. These are basic safety requirements for which we cannot make any exception. Children 12 years of age and younger are legally required to wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times while in the kayak.
Swimming Ability Requirement
Basic swimming ability is required for all participants, regardless of age, and regardless of whether or not you are wearing a life jacket. All participants will be given a life jacket, and all participants 12 years of age and younger are legally required to wear it at all times while in the kayak.
However, wearing a life jacket is not a substitute for swimming ability. If your kayak capsizes (which is possible) the wind and current may start to push the kayak away from you as you float. If you are in water that is deeper than you can stand (which is most of Kane’ohe Bay) you must be comfortable and capable of swimming to retrieve your kayak in the event it is floating away from you. If you are not, that would be a serious problem, and it would make this activity unsuitable. For safety reasons we will not make any exceptions for this requirement.
Right to Refuse Service
Kama’aina Kids reserves the right to refuse service to anybody, especially if we have evidence or reason to believe that somebody is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol prior to launching. Anybody who is visibly impaired or in possession of alcohol or illegal drugs prior to launching will be refused and no refund will given under those circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE US TO KAYAK TO THE SANDBAR?
We can never tell anybody how long it will take them to paddle to one particular destination or another. There is no average. Everybody is different and every day is different. We can give you accurate ideas of distances, wind forecasts, and relative difficulty levels for any given day. But the wind and ocean conditions are different every day. These factors, combined with your personal paddling ability, strength, and endurance will determine the paddling time necessary to reach any given destination. It’s best to time yourself along the way, starting from when you launch. That way you’ll know how long the paddling time is taking to make sure you have enough time to make it back.
CAN WE GO TO THE SANDBAR FROM YOUR LOCATION?
Yes! The sandbar is one possible destination for kayaking with us in Kane’ohe Bay. It is located roughly a mile and a half paddle each way from our location at He’eia State Park. Depending on the wind and ocean conditions, this can sometimes be a challenging distance. But the sandbar is not the only possible destination! It’s always important to know the current wind and ocean conditions, and plan your adventure accordingly to make sure you don’t exceed your comfort or ability level.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO THE SANDBAR?
It is always a good time to go to the sandbar! But if you want to experience the sandbar when it is a dry, exposed beach, that only happens during extreme low tides around full and new moons. The time of day that those low tides happen changes throughout the year. You can always call us when planning your adventure to get an update of the tide predictions. But you can always go to the sandbar, it is always shallow enough to stand on. Most of the time it is a very pleasant knee-waist deep, sandy oasis.
WHAT SHOULD WE BRING WITH US?
Bring everything that you would bring for a day at the beach, including: swimwear, towels, a change of clothes, footwear that can get wet, reef-safe sunscreen, your phone or camera, and your adventurous spirit!
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED? / WHERE DO WE CHECK IN?
We are located at He’eia State Park. Check in at main banquet hall building at the top of the parking lot before walking down to the water.
IS THERE PARKING AT YOUR LOCATION?
DO YOU HAVE LOCKERS OR A PLACE TO LEAVE VALUABLES?
No, unfortunately we do not. We can keep car keys in our office, but only keys. Due to liability reasons, we cannot hold onto any other personal items. We do rent waterproof dry bags to take things with you that cannot get wet. It’s best to pack light and don’t bring anything with you that can’t either leave in your car or take with you on the water.
WILL WE SEE SEA TURTLES?
ARE THERE SHARKS/WILL WE SEE SHARKS?
Your chances of seeing a shark are very, very slim. While Kane’ohe Bay is known for its hammerhead population, they are very shy, timid, and reclusive. If you are afraid of them, they are more afraid of you. They stay away from people and boats. Consider yourself extremely lucky if you see a shark. Seriously.
ARE THERE ANY ANIMALS OUT THERE THAT COULD HURT US?
Kane’ohe Bay is home to a vast amount of marine life, most of which is perfectly harmless. The animal responsible for the most injuries to people by far is coral! That’s right, coral. Coral is a living animal even though it may look like rock. It is very fragile and easily damaged. The hard corals of Kane’ohe Bay have exoskeletons made of calcium carbonate, which is very hard, sharp, and jagged, and can inflict painful damage on us. So please be careful to avoid all contact with coral. You will hurt it and it will hurt you! As with any animal you might see, give it proper space, and look but never touch!
WHAT ARE THE PINK/RED/ORANGE/PURPLE THINGS WE SEE IN THE SAND THAT LOOK LIKE BIG WORMS OR TENTACLES?
Those are conspicuous sea cucumbers! They are endemic to Hawaii, meaning that species exists nowhere else on the planet but here! They are living animals, so please remember to look but never touch. They are very fragile!
DO THE KAYAKS FLIP OVER/CAPSIZE?
WILL WE GET COLD OUT THERE?
HOW DO WE GET IN AND OUT OF THE KAYAKS?
WHERE CAN WE LAND/LEAVE THE KAYAK WHILE WE'RE OUT THERE?
WHERE CAN WE ANCHOR OR STAND?
Only in the sand! For your safety and for the safety of the coral reef, never stand on, sit on, touch, or anchor on coral or rock. Coral is a living animal, even if it looks like rock. It is a very fragile and easily damaged animal, and its exoskeleton is very sharp and jagged. In Kane’ohe Bay there is no such thing as rocks that are okay to stand on. Assume anything that looks like rock is living coral. Avoid contact with coral at all costs and only stand and anchor in sand. Just assume that anything that isn’t sand is a living creature, and we don’t ever want to touch anything but sand!
WHERE DO WE GO TO SNORKEL?
Kane’ohe Bay is home to many unique patch reefs that offer amazing snorkeling. Many of those have shallow sandy areas where it is okay to get out of the kayak and anchor in the sand. The best snorkeling is right on the reef’s edge where it drops off to deeper water. We will give you a map of the bay and show you exactly where to go.
CAN WE GO TO COCONUT ISLAND FROM YOUR LOCATION?
Coconut Island (aka Moku o Loe) is just over a mile from our location towards the south end of the bay. From our location you can paddle over to Coconut Island, you can paddle around it if you want, but we are NOT permitted to land on the island. It is actually private property, it is run by the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, and the entire island and surrounding fringing reef are a protected marine research reserve area. Landing on the island or getting out on its surrounding reef is prohibited.
CAN WE GO TO MOKOLI'I ISLAND FROM YOUR LOCATION?
ARE THERE ANY ISLANDS WE CAN LAND ON IN KANE'OHE BAY?
WHAT IS CONSIDERED REEF-SAFE SUNSCREEN?
When looking for reef-safe sunscreen, check the active ingredients. Be sure the only active ingredients are either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and also look for “non-nano”. Synthetic chemicals found in many popular sunscreen brands have been found to be toxic to coral, which is very fragile and easily damaged. The chemicals to avoid include: oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate, and octocrylene. If your sunscreen contains any of these in the active ingredients, it is harmful to coral. The natural mineral compounds zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only “reef safe” active ingredients. And also make sure those compounds are “non-nano”. The reducing of those compounds into “nano particles” changes their chemical makeup in a way that does actually make them harmful to coral. Coral is a very fragile animal! Help us protect it by only using reef safe sun protection!
DO YOU HAVE 3-PERSON KAYAKS?
We do not have kayaks that are suitable for three adults. Our tandem kayaks are great for two adults and one or maybe even two very small children, but not for three adults.
WHAT IS THE WEIGHT CAPACITY OF YOUR KAYAKS?
The weight capacity of our tandem kayaks is 500 pounds. For anybody over 250 pounds, we recommend a tandem kayak set up in a single configuration. We don’t recommend going tandem with a partner for anybody over 250 pounds unless you are comfortable and certain of your stability paddling tandem with a partner.
CAN WE TAKE THE KAYAKS OFFSITE TO PUT IN SOMEWHERE ELSE?
It is possible to do that. However, we do not provide any roof rack equipment, pads, straps, rope, etc. In order to take the kayaks off site as opposed to launching from our waterfront you would need to have all the equipment necessary to secure it to a vehicle. We also do not allow kayaks to go offsite when there are high surf, small craft, high wind, or other marine advisories or warnings in effect.
WHY ARE WE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS AND FEDERAL HOLIDAYS?
Kane’ohe Bay regulations prohibit commercial activity on Sundays or federal holidays. And while we ARE NOT a commercial tour operator, we still follow those guidelines. We apologize for the inconvenience.
WHAT IS THE AGE LIMIT?
Our age limit for going in the kayaks is 3 and up. All participants must weigh at least 30 lbs and be able to properly wear a life jacket rated for at least 30-50 lbs. It’s okay if kids have their own life jackets as long as they are US Coast Guard approved. If that is not the case, one of our USCG approved life jackets is mandatory and to be worn at all times while kayaking for anybody under the age of 13. Basic swimming ability is required for all participants, regardless of age, and regardless of wearing a life jacket. For everybody’s safety there are no exceptions for this requirement.
WHY MUST EVERYBODY KNOW HOW TO SWIM?/IS IT OKAY IF WE CAN'T SWIM AS LONG AS WE WEAR LIFE JACKETS?
The short answer is simply that we require swimming ability for all participants as a safety precaution. If you cannot swim, we cannot allow you to go out into the ocean in a kayak. Life jackets will be provided for all participants, and everybody under the age of 13 is legally required to wear their life jacket at all times while kayaking. But wearing a life jacket will only keep you afloat. It will not help you to swim, and that is very important when you are going out in the ocean in water that is deeper than you can stand. Imagine you are kayaking out to the sandbar, you’re one mile from shore in 50′ of water, you can’t even see the bottom. All of a sudden your kayak flips over (this is not common or even likely, but it IS possible). The wind and current will immediately try to push the kayak away from you as you float. Every person must be comfortable enough and capable in that situation of swimming a short distance to retrieve and climb back onto your kayak. If you would be uncomforable or panic in that situation, or if that is not a reasonable expectation, then this activity is potentially dangerous and unsuitable. We want everybody to have a good experience, and everybody’s safety is our top priority. Swimming ability is required for all participants regardless of age, regardless of wearing a life jacket, no exceptions.
IS IT SAFE TO GO KAYAKING TODAY?
Kayaking in the ocean, like hiking in the mountains or scuba diving, is a wilderness adventure activity, and there is always inherent risk. Fortunately Kane’ohe Bay is a relatively flat, calm, safe, protected bay. But it is still the ocean. There are no lifeguards on duty. You are going out there on your own. We take every precaution and have every standard policy and practice in place to ensure everyone’s safety. We have standard cutoffs when it comes to the conditions that we will cancel if we feel it might not be safe or reasonable. And we do have the ability and a system in place to perform rescues if necessary. That said, the conditions are different every day. It is the responsibility of all participants before going out in the ocean to be aware of the conditions, forecasts, and risks, and to make sure that you do not exceed your ability or comfort level. You can always call us to get updates on conditions, forecasts, and relative difficulty levels. Know before you go, and when in doubt, err on the side of caution.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT RAINS?/ CAN WE CANCEL AND GET A REFUND IF THE WEATHER IS BAD?
We operate rain or shine as long as it is safe and reasonable to let people go kayaking. Rain or chance of rain does not make it unsafe or unreasonable. We do not cancel or refund because of rain or weather conditions unless there are conditions that meet our criteria for being unsafe or unreasonable. This type of ocean kayaking requires you to get wet, so we are not afraid of a little rain. On Oahu’s windward coast there is almost always some chance of scattered/isolated showers. So we do not cancel for a refund on the day of because of rain or chance of rain. It’s best to monitor the forecast in the days leading up to your excursion. If you feel the forecast does not look good, you can always cancel for a refund or reschedule outside of our cancelation policy. You can also always check with us for updates on forecasts and conditions.