Hawaii Beach Safety


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Welcome to Hawaii Beach Safety—Oahu—East Shore

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Chinaman's Hat is also known as: Mokolii


Chinaman's hat is not lifeguarded.

Information and Beach Analysis

Mokoli’i Island, one of Windward O’ahu’s most famous landmarks, lies off the park. Its creation is explained in a legend about Hi’iaka, a sister of Pele, the goddess of the volcano. After Pele traveled across the Hawaiian Islands and finally made her home on the Big Island, she still wandered in her dreams as a spirit. During one of these travels, she found a handsome prince on Kaua’i, Lohi’au, and wanted to meet him personally. She asked each of her sisters to go to Kaua’i and bring him back, but they all refused, forseeing the dangers of the trip. Finally the youngest of the girls, Hi’iaka, agreed.

On O’ahu as Hi’iaka followed the trail on the shore of Kane’ohe Bay, she was confronted by a mo’o, a large dragon-like creature. Using her supernatural power, Hi’iaka killed the mo’o, cut off his tail, and threw it into the ocean, where it became an island called Mokoli’i, or little dragon. Moko is an older form of mo’o, or dragon, and li’i means little. The island is popularly known as Chinaman’s Hat for its shape, which resembles an old-style Chinese laborer’s hat.

Mokoli’i Island, 500 yards offshore, is park property and the only offshore island around O’ahu, besides Coconut Island in Kane’ohe Bay, that is not part of the Hawai’i State Seabird Sanctuary.

This description is taken from John R. K. Clark's book - Beaches of Oahu (Revised Edition) which is published by University of Hawai'i Press and available from University of Hawai'i Press. We thank John R. K. Clark for providing his description of Hawaii's beaches to improve beach safety.