Mokulua (meaning, “the two islands”) are two islets off the windward coast of O‘ahu.
They are also commonly known as “The Mokes” or the “Twin Islands.” They are about a mile off Lanikai.
The larger island is also known as Moku Nui, Big Moke and Two Humps (13-acre land area.)
The smaller island is also known as Moku Iki, Baby Moke and One Hump (9-acre land area.)
The Mokulua islands are part of the summit caldera of the Ko‘olau shield volcano that slid into the ocean in one or a series of massive landslides more than a million years ago.
In what scientists call the Nu‘uanu Debris Avalanche, a landslide sheared off a third of O‘ahu and swept material more than 140 miles north of O’ahu and Moloka’i.
The Mokulua Islands, large basaltic outcrops from the sea floor, are located about 4,000 feet offshore and rise approximately 200 feet above sea level.
These old offshore islets (as well as many others off O‘ahu and around the Neighbor Islands) form the Hawai‘i State Seabird Sanctuary, created to protect the thousands of seabirds who seek refuge in and around the main Hawaiian Islands.
The majority of seabird-nesting colonies in the main Hawaiian Islands are located on the offshore islands, islets and rocks. Many of these offshore islands are part of the Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary System.
These sanctuaries protect seabirds, Hawaiian Monk seals, migrating shorebirds, and native coastal vegetation. These small sanctuary areas represent the last vestiges of a once widespread coastal ecosystem that included the coastlines of all the main Hawaiian Islands. (DLNR)
Mokulua are primary nesting sites for ‘Ua‘u kani (Wedge-tailed Shearwater) and ‘Ou (Bulwer’s Petrel.)
The Wedge-tailed Shearwater is a dusky brown bird with white breast feathers, long and thin wings, a hooked bill and a wedge-shaped tail.
The wailing sound made by these birds at their burrows at night inspired the Hawaiian name, which means “calling or moaning petrel.”
The Bulwer’s Petrel has long pointed wings, a long pointed tail, a black bill and pale short legs. Adult males and females are overall sooty-brown, with a pale bar across the proximal half of upper wings.
Multiple commercial operations cater to the Mokulua-bound kayakers and provide equipment rental and guided eco-tours. Permits are required to land any business-oriented vessel at the regulated sanctuaries.
The sandy beach at Moku Nui is a destination for thousands of (resident and visitor) kayakers, surfers, and boaters every year.
Clearly marked paths on the shoreline of Mokulua North are the only places visitors are allowed to walk. In addition to the no alcohol rules, bringing dogs to the islet, camping and campfires are prohibited.