Oahu Must Do: Rent a Pontoon Boat on Kaneohe Bay

One of my favorite things to do when we lived in Hawaii was to rent a pontoon boat and go out to the sandbar in Kaneohe Bay. I learned about boat licensing at MCCS Hawaii when we had about one year left in Hawaii. I wish I had learned about this earlier in the tour, but got to spend quite a bit of time with family and friends out on the sandbar.

The MCCS Hawaii Marina has different types of boats to rent, but first you have to get a license. Rentals from the Marina include pontoon boats, sailboats, Boston Whaler and Ski Boats. Becoming licensed requires two parts: an online class and an in-person portion. After you complete the online test, you can schedule your bay check (the in-person ride around the bay). Licenses cost $25 and are good for one year.

Rentals are available from 8am-12pm or from 12:30pm-4:30pm. Rentals must be made in advance.

Due to COVID, there are capacity restrictions on the boats. Even boats with more capacity are capped at 10 people. Once out at the sandbar, boats must be 20 feet from each other while anchored.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Try to book the boat for low tide out on the sandbar.
  • If possible, try to get licensed at the same time as a friend. It is nice to be able to have a few people who can drive the boat when you go out to the sandbar.
  • Make the reservation as early as possible.
  • Bring a cooler with food and drinks. Make sure to bring extra sunscreen and a hat!
  • Bring sand toys. The first time I went, I did not think to bring sand toys for my daughter. The tide was low enough for her to use them.
  • Bring some fun floaties for kids, or even a lounge style float for yourself to sit in while out on the sandbar. When we would go out, we often brought our snorkel gear. Sometimes you can get lucky and see some sea turtles while out at the sandbar.

Have you been out to the sandbar? Leave some tips for others!

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