Favorite Hawaii Anchorage: Poka’i Bay

11 Feb

21.4428, -158.1907
21° 26′ 34.08” N  158. 11′ 26.52” W

The beautiful Waianae range towers over the anchorage

Bella Marina is gently swinging at anchor in Poka’i Bay, Oahu, one of our all time favorite anchorages in the Hawaiian Islands. This has been one of our go-to fun destinations since we’ve arrived in Hawaii due to its proximity to the Ko Olina marina, relative protection from an aging breakwater, and beautiful protected water for swimming and snorkeling with the resident turtles even when the trades are a-blowing.

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind of boat projects, ticking off item after item to get Bella Marina ready to cruise again. We upgraded the solar array, repaired and cleaned the sails, inspected the rigging, bought 10k worth of gear, provisioned the boat, liquidated the storage in San Francisco, sold the motorcycles, sold the trailer, sold the car, bought more gear, serviced the Furlex, serviced the windlass, … you get the idea. We had a goal of getting off the dock by February 10th since we wanted to enjoy cruising the Hawaiian Islands for a couple of months before heading to Tahiti in April. We made it with minutes to spare, said our goodbye to the many wonderful friends we had made in Ko Olina, and headed over to Poka’i Bay. Under engine, since the interior of the cabin was strewn with parts, gear, more parts, and more than a couple of bottles of rum and champagne that were gifted to us by the same amazing friends.

Petter has been a busy guy lately

The anchorage is only a couple of hours of leisurely sailing or motoring away from Ko Olina and has a straight-forward approach flanked by reefs on both sides, with plenty of water under the keel. The inside anchorage is small and holds 2-3 boats comfortably with space for more smaller boats close to shore. It’s relatively shallow, with depths varying between 10 to 20 feet in the anchorage area and shallowing quickly towards the beach which has a marked swimming area.

You can clearly see the reef outside the entrance, the shallowing of the water and the surf break in this satellite map overview

We’ve anchored both inside the breakwater as well as outside – especially when the swell is down and the anchorage already occupied. For the past 2+ years there used to be 2 permanently anchored boats here, but they seem to have moved when the Hōkūleʻa was anchored here for their Mahalo Hawaiʻi tour and the anchorage has been free for other boats to enjoy since. Like the majority of all other anchorages in Hawaii there is a 72 hour limit on anchoring in one place. The outside anchorage has depths of 20-35 feet, good sand holding (better than on the inside) and gorgeous clear blue water. We’ve had some stunning full moon nights when you could see the sand ripples on the bottom and fun mornings being woken up by the resident pod of dolphins out hunting. We’ve also had some rude nights when the wind died down and the swell kicked up – hence our current position inside the breakwater, where the swell is much less noticeable. No dolphins here though, just turtles.

The beach has a chill vibe and is a favorite with local families and lots of happy keiki playing in the gentle surf. The local Waianae canoe club practices in the bay and they enthusiastically use the anchored boats as turn marks. There is a surf spot within paddling distance over the reef on the North side of the bay and you can take lessons from WestSide Surf Lessons.

These guys could literally smell the bacon. That is, the bacon we were cooking on the boat. I think they circled us 3 times… 

We like to get Poke from Tamura’s Market across the street, and sometimes hang out at Coquitos for latin fare and eat the best mofongo (the only mofongo?) in the North Pacific. It’s BYOB, which we have lots of on the boat turns out. If you are here on a Saturday morning there is a great Farmer’s Market within walking distance where you can get fresh, local and organic veggies, fruit, meat, fish, cheese, butter, breads, and Petter’s favorite (not keto!) snack, freshly made Taro malasadas.

The calm waters in the anchorage are perfect for paddling your SUP around or doing Yoga. Not that it’s going to make a difference after all that food…

We’ll be here for the next couple of days, organizing the boat and finishing up projects, then check out Makua and Yokohama, and maybe Waikiki if the weather is right. We’ll likely be back here as we are planning to spend another 2 weeks on Oahu before heading to Maui. We also want to try a bit more fishing and put our new lures and Hawaiian sling to work.

Cheers and Aloha!

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