Where Are the Islands Off Oahu?
Visitors to Hawaii’s may wonder about the many and interesting-looking small islands off Oahu. Some of these small islands have unique shapes and corresponding names that make them even more memorable. And one of them was even pictured in a famous television series of yesteryear.
Some may think this island has the nickname Rabbit Island because its shape looks like a rabbit’s head. But peopled called it that because the island was once inhabited by, you guessed it, rabbits. The island’s true name is Manana which means buoyant in Hawaiian. John Adams Kuakini Cummins once tried to raise rabbits on the island in the 1880s. Cummins was a prominent member of the Hawaiian royalty. He also ran a nearby sugar plantation in Waimanalo. As one would expect from rabbits, they multiplied so profusely it threatened the fragile ecology of the island. So in 1994, the rabbits were completely eradicated from the island. The island now serves as a seabird wildlife sanctuary. There is a low lying island next to Rabbit Island, Kaohikaipu or Black Rock. But it lacks the more colorful history of its neighbor.
This island, which people call Coconut Island or Moku o Loʻe in Hawaiian, is in Kaneohe Bay. You can actually see it in the opening shots of the long-running television series, Gilligan’s Island. A number of very wealthy individuals, including an heir to the Fleishman Yeast company fortune, once owned it. The US navy island used the island for a number of purposes. It included using it as a rest and recuperation facility during World War II. It was also a small resort club until it was totally purchased outright by the State of Hawaii in 1995. After that, the University of Hawaii used it as an oceanographic research facility.
You can find Mokoli’i Island right off Kamehameha Highway fronting Kualoa Beach Park and the Kualoa Ranch estate. But most people know it better by its nickname, Chinaman’s Hat. The island gets this name because its conical shape looks like a hat that Chinese men wore in the 1800s to early 1900s. The island has a legend that Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, had a sister, Hi’iaka, who slew a giant lizard into the ocean. According to this legend, Chinaman’s Hat is the remnant of that lizard’s back.
Off Laie Point in the town of Laie, there are 5 small rocky islets. According to Hawaiian legend, a giant lizard with the name Laniloa guarded this area. A great warrior Kana fought and defeated Laniola. Once doing so, Kana threw the giant lizard’s heads into five pieces off Laie Point. Today, you can see the remains of Laniloa’s head in the form of 5 neighboring islets. Locals call one of the islands Puka Island. Puka in Hawaiian means hole and Puka Island has a small arch in the middle of it. The tremendous wave action of a 1946 tsunami created this arch.