Paddleboard Or Kayak To The Barrier Reef
The south shore of Molokai is fringed by the longest barrier reef in the USA. What this means for a visitor is that there arent many nice beaches on the south side, but more mangroves, seaweed, and silty, shallow, rocky shoreline. HOWEVER, if you climb in a kayak, its just a short paddle out to crystal blue water with excellent visibility! This is one of the best adventurous things to do in Molokai.
Molokai Outdoors is a locally owned tour company that can get you out to the best part of reef safely on a half-day kayaking tour. You dont want to go kayaking around outside the reef if you dont know the area. If the wind kicks in, you might find yourself swept out to Australia!
What To Do On Kauai When It Rains
The beauty of Hawaii and the island of Kauai in particular is enticing and hard to ignore. On rainy days in particular, it can feel disheartening to realize that a long hike or time on the beach might not be enjoyable after all.
Thankfully, Kauai is full of historical museums and drizzle-friendly tours to keep you and your family learning about Hawaiian history even on rainy days.
How Long Should You Spend On Molokai
Molokai has a reputation for being boring or having nothing to do. By the time you finish reading this post, hopefully Ill have debunked that myth but it still doesnt compare to the four main Hawaiian Islands. I think three days is the perfect amount of time to visit Molokai, and while I dont normally recommend spending so little time on an island because of travel time, the short flight here plus not having to go through TSA means that you have most of your travel days free. I would recommend a day for touring Kalaupapa, a day for the Halawa Valley, and either spending a day with Molokai Outdoors or spending a day filling in with what interests you.
I also recommend sandwiching in your time on Molokai in the middle of your trip. For example, I wouldnt recommend flying straight to Molokai from the mainland because if your flight to Maui is delayed, youll probably end up missing your connection. Fly to Maui and spend a few days, then hop over to Molokai and end your trip back on Maui for a bit before flying home.
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Lose Yourself In Shades Of Green
Molokai, and the Hawaiian Islands in general, are full of verdant, jade-colored valleys. But one of the most beautiful and culturally significant is the Halawa Valley on Molokai. Home to one of Hawaiis earliest settlements, Halawa is believed to have been inhabited as early as A.D. 650. The 4-mile-deep valley is a bowl of misty green, veined with rivers and waterfalls and surrounded by towering peaks. While exploring the valley, youll encounter many heiau, or places of worship constructed by the Polynesian settlers who first inhabited the valley. Be sure to explore the twin Moaula and Hipuapua Falls, which plunge 250 feet into the valley.
The valley is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from the Molokai Airport. You can only explore the area with a guide, since the trail crosses private property. To arrange a hike, contact Anakala Pilipo Solatorio at 542-1855.
Go Snorkeling In Molokai With Colorful Fish & Sea Turtles
We didnt plan to do any snorkeling in Molokai with any tour operators, but when we read about how amazing the reefs off Molokais coast are, we had to check it out. Our two stops on our trip with Molokai Fish & Dive took us to a pristine, colorful coral reef with dozens of different kinds of fish as well as a deeper area where we swam with sea turtles. .
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Mail A Coconut To Someone At Post A Nut Molokai
At the Hoolehua Post Office , you can actually mail a real coconut. The postmaster keeps a pile of em ready to go, along with sharpies so you can decorate it with messages and artwork. The coconuts are FREE, but postage runs about $14-$17 depending on the weight of the nut. Only open weekdays. Certainly one of the most unique things to do in Molokai.
See Molokais Phallic Rock
Located near the Kalaupapa overlook, this phallic rock is a short hike from the parking lot. Molokai is full of off the beaten path adventures and this is certainly one of them. According to Hawaiian legends, if a woman brings offerings and spends the night, she will return home pregnant.
While you are visiting, dont miss the Kalaupapa overlook. You will have a beautiful view of the leper colony below and if you were not able to arrange a flight to see the Kalaupapa peninsula, this will be the closest you come to one of the best things to do on Molokai.
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Getting A History Lesson In The Kalaupapa Peninsula
Squeezed by the tallest sea cliffs in the world and the Pacific Ocean, the Kalaupapa Peninsula is the most isolated patch of land in Hawaiis already isolated island. It is not only a place of dramatic natural beauty but also the site of a tragic episode in modern Hawaiian history. In an effort to curb the spread of the leprosy virus, the peninsula was designated as a quarantine zone for victims of the disease between 1866 to 1969. When a cure was discovered, patients were free to leave but some stayed in the only home theyve ever known. These days, only a dozen or so residents live in Kalaupapa National Historical Park but this is no ordinary park!
Visitors making the trip down from the topside via a sensational hike, mule ride or small-prop plane, are required to receive a special permit in order to visit the park. Whats on the menu? Youll uncover the remarkable story of Kalaupapa as you visit key sites and perhaps even meet one of the residents. Youll learn about Father Damien and a few other good souls who helped patients when no one else did, as you frequently stop in historic homes, picturesque churches and village landmarks. Your tour concludes with a trip to Kalawao on the rugged windward side of the peninsula, where spectacular views of Molokais Pali Coast will put any doubts to rest as to whether this journey was worth the effort!
Molokai Mule Ride To Kalaupapa
The first thing most people read about Molokai is the mule ride down 1700 feet along the sea cliffs to the Kalaupapa peninsula below. The trail traverses the 2.9-mile trail consisting of 26 switchbacks and provides some of the most incredible views of this isolated area.
It may seem hard to believe that the Molokai leper colony still exists in this day and age but the Kalaupapa National Historic Park houses a tragic part of Hawaiian history. From 1886 to 1969, the Kalaupapa peninsula became a prison for those suffering from what we now call Hansens Disease. The peninsula was inescapable, surrounded on three sides by ocean and by massive 2000 foot sea cliffs on the other.
When you arrive in Kalaupapa, you will be met by a Kekaula Tours guide who will take you by bus to see the gravesite of Father Damien, the Priest who came to serve the leprosy patients living hidden from the world. You will visit St. Philomena Church, where Father Damien did his sermons, you will enjoy your lunch at Judd Park on the scenic Kalawao side which was my favourite part of the tour.
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Obtaining A Permit For Kalaupapa National
If you visit Kalaupapa, you must first obtain a permit for visiting. You can do this by booking with the tour company. When you come to the colony, you can only visit with a guided tour run by Damien Tours LLC. They will take you around the area in an old school bus while teaching you about the tragic past of this special place.
Catching The Sunset In Papohaku Beach
With over two miles of soft golden sand that melts between your toes, Papohaku Beach on Molokais wild west coast is the best place on the island for sunset views. Arrive early and go for a stroll, find your very own spot and prepare yourself for the dazzling spectacle thats about to commence. The sunsets are so magnificent out here, that spotting the famous green flash is pretty much the norm.
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Renting Acar To Get Around Molokai
If youre staying in Molokai for at least a couple of days and intend to explore on your own, then renting a car is a solid option. Youll find that many of the international rental car companies are here . However, youll save some cash and support local businesses in the process by choosing a company like Mobettah Car Rentals. They dont have the most high-end cars on the road, but theyll get you where you need to go.
If you decide to rent a car, be mindful that there are windy and bumpy roads in some of the more remote areas of the island. As such, consider renting a 4WD vehicle.
There are so many cool things to do in Molokai, so it pays to rent a car to see it all.
Other Accommodations On Molokai:
There are many Airbnbs or vacation properties for rent on Molokai. We have always stayed in the west end in the Ke Nani Kai complex which is a short walk from Kepuhi Beach. Also located in the west end is Paniolo Hale and Kaluakoi Villas/Kepuhi Beach Resort, the latter has a beautiful oceanfront pool.
Molokai Shores is located centrally on the island just one mile east of Kaunakakai. Wavecrest Resort is located on the east end of the island and is perfectly situated for an easy trip to Halawa Valley.
Slow Down This Is Molokai
The islands unofficial motto is made clear as you exit Molokais tiny airport. Remember to take things slow, never honk your horn , and practice your smile because youll use it a lot during your visit. If youre looking for luxury resorts, cocktails by the pool and touristy luau shows Molokai aint for you. Come here to live life in the slow lane for a few days and to count millions of stars at night. Trust me itll be mighty hard to leave!
Listen To The Wind Blow Through The Trees
This isnt one specific memory, but the beautiful A-frame home we stayed in had windows all around it. So, we were constantly feeling the trade winds breeze through the house and rustle the palm trees outside. During the day, the birds would chirp. And at night, geckos would take over the chorus. It was the most peaceful two weeks of our entire lives. And we never once turned on the TV. Just a little Hawaiian music to set the mood, and we were totally blissed out. We highly recommend setting aside time to enjoy the wonderful ambiance if visiting Molokai.
Visit Kalaupapa The Former Molokai Leper Colony
Molokai is perhaps most known for the leper colony thatonce existed on the island. From 1866-1969, over 8,000 people with leprosy were quarantined on Kalaupapa, a remote partof the island. They were forcibly sent here, left to fend for themselves andlive out the rest of their days on this isolated peninsula. Family members andfriends were abruptly separated from each other during this tragic time inHawaiian history.
For the first several years of this colony, there was total chaos and disarray that ensued. There were no rules on this peninsula, and no hope for those who contracted the disease. It wasnt until Father Damien, a Flemish Catholic priest, came to the island when conditions began to improve. He voluntarily set out for Kalaupapa knowing he would eventually contract the disease. He went anyway.
Father Damien built churches and buildings while treating patients and burying those who passed away. Above all, he brought dignity and hope to those who desperately needed it. He later contracted leprosy and passed away, but his mark on this community was everlasting. In 2009, he along with another selfless soul, Mother Marianne Cope, were canonized by the Catholic Church .
Its crazy to think that one of the most beautiful parts of the island has the most somber history to it.
Kalaupapa is only accessible by the 3.5-mile KalaupapaPali Trail, or by plane.
What To Pack For A Trip To Molokai
You will not need any fancy clothes or dress shoes for a vacation on Molokai. It is a casual island with a focus on adventure or relaxation or both! The number one thing you should pack for Molokai is a good pair of walking or hiking shoes. On the west side of the island, the sand is a rich, earthy red and will stain your shoes and clothes so bring along some items that you dont mind getting stained.The weather is generally beautiful throughout the year but we encourage packing layers for wind and rain and for cooler evenings in the winter. Places like Papohaku Beach can be very windy so having a light sweater to throw on will make you more comfortable while exploring. And the east end in the Halawa Valley can be rainy so a light rain jacket is a great option while you are exploring there.
Is Molokai The Right Island For You
Not every Hawaiian island is the best fit for every traveler, but I find this especially true on Molokai. Heres a breakdown:
Avoid Molokai if:
Youre looking to be entertained: . The residents of Molokai are working hard to strike a balance with tourism, but what they have to offer is not along these lines .
You want a luxury beach vacation: This isnt the island with two Four Seasons. While it is a beautiful island, its the real Hawaii, and it doesnt cater to tourists wanting to sip mai tais on the beach. Theres nothing wrong with wanting that, but head to another island.
You have high expectations of being catered to because youre on vacation: The people on Molokai are the friendliest youll find in Hawaii, and they are extremely welcoming of guests. But unlike some other Hawaiian islands, not everything revolves around tourism here. People are living their lives, practicing their culture, and just simply being. You are a visitor on a living, breathing, working island. Not a tourist in vacationland. Some of the other islands have pockets of resort areas designed to make you feel this way. Molokai does not. When you arrive, you are part of the community. So if behaving like a guest in someones home is unappealing, pick a different island.
Gosh, Ive given you a lot of reasons NOT to go to Molokai. Heres why you should go:
Go to Molokai if:
Where Is Molokai Hi
Molokai is the fifth-largest of the Hawaiian islands measuring 38 miles long by 10 miles wide. It lies 25 miles east of Oahu across the 25-mile wide Kaiwi Channel, north of Lanai separated by the Kalohi Channel and only 8 miles to the west of Maui. Many of the other Hawaiian islands are visible from the shores of Molokai. You can see Maui from the eastern shores and both Oahu and Lanai from the south shores.
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Maui: The Valley Isle is just a short flight away, and you’d want to extend your Molokai trip to explore Maui’s top attractions and best beaches. There are plenty of resorts to fit all budgets, and our article on the Top-Rated Resorts on Maui offers a comprehensive guide to accommodation on Maui.
Honolulu: A quick plane ride away awaits Oahu’s Honolulu, where you can easily spend a few days making your way through Honolulu’s main attractions. Oahu boasts 112 miles of coastline and a wide variety of beaches. Choosing which beach to visit is easier with our guide to some of the best beaches of Oahu. Most of the accommodations on the island are centered around Waikiki, and you will find everything from budget hotels to five-star resorts use our guide to the Top-Rated Resorts on Oahu to choose the best resort for your stay.
Dont Expect Mass Tourism
I know what youre thinking, no tourists? Thats fantastic! Where do I sign up?!
But its important to understand what this really means. You will pass the occasional tourist but youre mostly on your own. You wont find a lot of choice and you will need to be flexible with your schedule.
You wont find big luaus with hula dancing performances and you wont find glitz and glamor. There are limited places to eat and its hard to find convenient transportation.
Residents of Molokai support tourism, but in a responsible way that creates jobs for residents and doesnt negatively impact the environment. The people of Molokai dont want their island to replicate that of Oahu and Maui. They like it the way it is, so you need to respect that and shift your expectations accordingly.
Molokai: The Most Hawaiian Island
This trip to Molokai was sponsored by Maui Nui , which means all of my expenses were paid for and the itinerary was organized for me. As always, I only recommend my absolute favorites to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Hulaland possible.
After spending four days on the Hawaiian island of Molokai , I feel more aware and appreciative of Hawaii and its culture than ever before. Countless trips didnt expose me to the type of uniquely Hawaiian experiences that I was able to participate in during my short time on Molokai.
As a visitor, Ive never so fully experienced aloha anywhere else in Hawaii. Aloha isnt the waterfalls. Its not the beaches or the rainbows or the lush green mountains. Its not the scent of plumeria wafting over you while you relax in a hammock. Aloha isnt a mai tai. Aloha is the spirit of the people. And theres nowhere in Hawaii that a visitor is embraced more fully with aloha than Molokai.
After about my second day on Molokai, I realized that the things I was learning, seeing and experiencing on Molokai were all connected to the people of Molokai. Unlike other places in Hawaii where I remember things I did, my memories on Molokai are of the people I met. Every experience is connected with a person, sharing their knowledge, their way of life, their culture, and their appreciation for their island.