A Tale of a Tail: the Legend of Mokoli’i (Chinaman’s Hat)

One exceptional sight that I hope you don’t miss when you visit Oahu is the view of Mokoli’i. Due to it’s cone shape, Mokoli’i island is also dubbed Chinaman’s Hat.

Mokoli'i - aka Chinaman's Hat

I originally wrote a post about Mokoli’i in 2007 – back when I was still in blog kindergarten.  From that ancient post (ancient in blog years), there is an excellent comment from Oahu resident,  Kealii, who shares the Hawaiian legend of Mokolii. Kealii wrote:

Mokoli’i refers to “little lizard”, or the remnants of a tail of a legendary lizard whose back is very visible as the Kualoa mountain range. In fact, “Kualoa” means “long, large back”, referring to the long large back of a giant lizard or dinosaur. Legend has it that Hi’iakaikapoliopele, one of the sisters to Pele, the goddess who lives at Halema’uma’u at the current volcano on Hawai’i island, passed through the Kualoa area one day. This large lizard or mo’o gave chase to her. She killed him, and one sign of this battle is the remnant tail in the ocean, still seen today.”

Here’s a photo of the Kualoa mountain range resembling the back of a giant lizard. By the way, if you are a fan of the show, LOST, you might recognize this scene. (See this post for more LOST filming locations.)

Lost fish ponds

Kuoloa Mountain Range

So, there you have it. Mokolii is not a hat at all. According to legend, it’s the tail of a lizard.

Finding Mokoli’i is easy. One of the best vantage points is from Kualoa Regional Beach Park just off of Highway 83 (Kamehameha Highway). Kualoa Regional Beach Park is located between Kaneohe and Laie along the northeast shore of Oahu. Do make plans to see this island and recall the legend as you admire the view.

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Instagram.

One comment

  1. Local boy gone mainland. Great to see our islands again!!!!!!!!

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