Imagine the Hawaii of the past. Unspoiled country and untouched beaches. No skyscrapers or stoplights. The chance to truly live as the locals do. That's Molokai today.
Hawaii's fifth-largest island, Molokai is only 38 miles long and 10 miles across at its widest point. Molokai is home to the highest sea cliffs in the world along its northeast coast (3,600-3,900 feet) and Hawaii's longest continuous fringing reef (28 miles) off Molokai's southern coast. On foot, by bike or by 4-wheel drive, this is an island of outdoor adventure. Take the road less traveled and get red dirt in your shoes whether you're hiking along the 1,700 foot cliffs leading to Kalaupapa National Historical Park or discovering Papohaku Beach, one of Hawaii's biggest white sand beaches.
With almost half of its population being of Native Hawaiian ancestry, Molokai is an island that has preserved its connection to the past and its love for the outdoors.
There are three ways to get to Molokai: a 25-minute flight on a local air carrier from Oahu's Honolulu International Airport Commuter Terminal (HNL), Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG) to Molokai Airport (MKK), or the daily interisland ferry from neighboring Maui.
Ferry service on the Molokai Princess crosses the Kalohi channel twice a day between Lahaina Harbor and Kaunakakai Harbor, once in the morning, once in the late afternoon. Expect to be treated to spectacular sunsets during the afternoon ferry and whale sightings during the winter months.
The center of Molokai is also the center of local life on this, the most Hawaiian of islands. You'll arrive at Molokai Airport in Hoolehua, where you can tour a macadamia nut farm (Hawaii grows the majority of the world's macadamia nuts), tour the 500-acre Coffees of Hawaii's coffee farm or stop in to the Hoolehua Post Office to mail home a coconut (you just provide the postage).
Then head south to Molokai's main town of Kaunakakai, where the tallest point is the church steeple. Go on a fishing or boating adventure from Kaunakakai harbor or explore the local shops and historic landmarks.
Along the north coast of Central Molokai is the isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula, home to the historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Inaccessible by car, you can hike or take a mule ride along 1,700-foot sheer cliffs to reach this peaceful outpost or you can view it from the 1,000-foot elevations of scenic Palaau State Park.
Undiscovered country and natural wonders abound on Molokai's East End. Take a day trip and drive along Kamehameha V Highway with Kamakou, Molokai's highest mountain at 4,970 feet, to the left and Hawaii's longest continuous fringing reef (28 miles) in the seas to the right. Pass by historic places like St. Joseph's Church, built in 1876 by Saint Damien, and Kaluaaha Church, originally built in 1833, Molokai's first Christian Church.
Stop by Kumimi Beach (also known as 20 Mile Beach or Murphy Beach) for great snorkeling or continue to the end of the road for a picnic at peaceful Halawa Beach Park. Take a guided hike into beautiful and historic Halawa Valley, the only one of Molokai's five epic valleys that's easily accessible.
Or follow a different path inland and 4-wheel drive to the Kamakou Preserve, a primeval Hawaiian rainforest home to rare endemic plants and animals. The Waikolu Overlook offers a view into Kamakou's lush valley. Lining the northeast coast are the towering cliffs of the North Shore Pali. At 3,600 to 3,900 feet, they are the tallest sea cliffs in the world.
The western coast is home to Papohaku Beach, one of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii, and Kapukahehu Beach (also known as Dixie Maru Beach) a perfect spot for romantic Molokai sunsets. The small plantation town of Maunaloa offers unique shopping including the hand made kites of the Big Wind Kite Factory.