Goat Island

Goat Island, Oahu

Goat Island is located on Oahu’s northeastern coast and is also known as Mokuauia Island. Contrary to its name, there are no goats on Goat Island, only nesting seabirds. In fact, it's a seabird sanctuary, situated at the southern end of Malaekahana Bay.

There are three beaches on Mokuauia Island; however, the best one for swimming and the easiest to access is located toward the left. It is already visible when paddling out there. This beach is protected from the surf by cliffs and one can just float in the calm water and enjoy the awesome view of Oahu, the mountains and the beaches. If you visit Goat Island, keep in mind that this is a protected seabird sanctuary. Stay away from the center of the island because the seabirds lay their eggs here. They should not be disturbed. 

The island is close enough to the beach so it’s possible to swim over, especially during low tide when the water is only about two to four feet deep. However, it is not recommended to walk over because there is a lot of reef and you may cut your feet if you walk. Besides that, stepping on the reef may damage it, so it is better to take a bodyboard or surfboard and paddle over.

The current can be quite strong here, especially when the tide changes, and there are no lifeguards, so if you’re not used to swimming in the ocean, better stay on land. In addition to strong currents, there may be dangerous rip tides and even though the waves may look small, they can be quite powerful in this area. The waves often times come from the left and right and in the middle, where you would swim over, they clash together, making it a bit difficult to hold your balance if you’re on a board.

Goat Island Overview

  • Protected seabird sanctuary located at the southern end of Malaekahana Bay
  • Center of the island is off-limits to people - seabirds nest here
  • Do not attempt to reach Goat Island if you’re a novice swimmer or during high tide
  • Do not leave anything behind on the island

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Reviews and Comments:
I lived on the beach across from Laie Elem School. I was a 7th grader at the school, and almost everyday after school, I would go surfing (the only girl) with all the high school boys (yes, I was a tomboy) out to Goat Island. We'd walk out to the island on the reef with bare feet, surfboards in hand, and snacks to eat. We'd sit on the island, have snacks, look into the gooney birds nests (huge holes in the ground), and when the tide came in, we'd surf into shore . . . total blast! This was 1974!
Yvette, Sat May 07, 2011
My wife and I walked over to it one day about 8 years ago. I don't remember the time of day, but the tide was low and wasn't hard to do. We wore old tennis shoes to protect our feet. It was during March.
Gary, Thu Mar 24, 2011
I've been to Goat Island a couple of times, but I always took my bodyboard with me. I would recommend it, because the reef can be sharp. But once on the island, it is a great place of escape and I even saw a sea turtle. The current can be quite strong around the island, especially if the surf is up (even if just a little), so better wear fins. A friend of mine had a hard time to beat the current.
Olivia, Aug 27, 2010