What Is the Hawaiian Legend of Chinaman's Hat?


Quick Answer

Chinaman's Hat, or "Mokoli'i" in Hawaiian, was allegedly formed when Pele's sister slew a dragon or giant lizard and threw his tail into the water near Oahu, according to Fodor's. Other dragon body parts were scattered into the water nearby, forming rocky islets.

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Full Answer

Chinaman's Hat, so named because of its resemblance to the flattened conical bamboo hat often found in traditional Asian garb, is an uninhabited island accessible only by water. Located about 600 yards offshore on the north edge of Kaneohe Bay in Oahu, Hawaii, the tiny island was created by the erosion of the basaltic ridge, the remains of an ancient volcano, that forms the Kuoloa Mountains rising high above the windward coast. The long line of nearby islets were either formed similarly or fell from the higher parts of the ridge.

Chinaman's Hat is best known for its beauty and as a nesting area for the wedge-tailed shearwater, a type of puffin. During low tide when the seas are calm, visitors can wade out to the island, and kayakers have made it a favorite lunch stop because of its flat, warm beach. For those in good physical shape, a hike to the top of Mokoli'i rewards visitors with a stunning view of the Windward coastline and Kaneohe Bay.

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