Molokai is known as a quiet retreat with a beautiful landscape and the idyllic sands that were found throughout all of Hawaii at the turn of the century. Molokai is a magical island: from the West end with open sky and limitless vistas, to the North end with 3,600 ft sea cliffs, or the East with pristine beaches and miles of barrier reef and finally the South, where the small town of Kaunakakai lies. Kaunakakai doesn't even have one stoplight but offers plenty of small gift shops, restaurants, bakery, coffee shops, and grocery stores where you can regularly get fresh blocks of sushi grade Ahi tuna. Molokai is more rural, more natural and less crowded than the other Hawaiian Islands. It is generally quiet and relaxed, very much Hawaii as it was a generation ago.
What is there to do on Molokai?
Plenty! Molokai, like Kauai, is for the outdoor spirited. Snorkel along the longest stretch of pristine reef in the United States, experience sea turtles, ancient fish ponds and other marine life. Kayak along the reef or the backside of Molokai's north shore to experience the majesty of the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Go deep sea fishing! Hawaiian waters are some of the best in the world to experience this heart accelerating sport.
Enjoy whale watching during the season which runs from November to April, and revel in these majestic creatures as they breech with their young throughout the Molokai channel. Get out there on a mountain bike and explore Molokai's rain forest, cliff tops and shoreline.
To experience Molokai first hand, a good pair of hiking shoes is all you need. Don't miss the Pepe Opae Trail, a boardwalk across the fragile eco-system, along which you'll see rare, endemic species that have evolved here from the beginning of time. Also, enjoy surfing and windsurfing on the many surf breaks and consistent trade winds that surround Molokai. For golf, try the 9-hole Ironwoods course on a hilltop.
There are dozens of churches on Molokai, and a good library in Kaunakakai with weekly story-telling for kids. Wade in the tide pools, watch the sunset and sit by the beach under the stars. Enjoy the fun food experience at Purdy's Macadamia Nut Farm. Jovial, story-filled Tuddie Purdy himself takes you into the orchard for you to see, smell and touch the clusters of nuts and crack open your own. Sample macadamia blossom honey scooped up with slices of fresh coconut.
Music and dance is a way of life for many on the islands. Molokai is the birthplace of Hula. For local Hawaiian music, rock, punk, and funk, go the Paddlers' Inn in Kaunakakai on weekend nights. Also, for traditional ukulele music, Hotel Molokai hosts a group of Kapunas from 4 to 6 on Fridays. The Saturday morning Farmers Market in Kaunakakai is delightful, for people watching, flowers, art, gifts and fresh local produce.
There is so much to do and experience on Molokai you might forget to relax!
Explore isolated Halawa Valley, the birthplace of Molokai where people from Marqueses Islands first settled in the Seventh Century. Halawa is now home to small farms of taro and flowers. Enjoy hiking and camping in the mountains and Halawa Beach Park for swimming, surfing and fishing. There are actually two beaches, Kama'alaea and Kawilli, that together form a curved bay-type area. Both beaches are calm in the Summer while the winter bestows large waves for excellent surfing. Moaula Falls is approximately two miles up the valley. Legend claims that a giant lizard (Mo'o) lives in the deep pool fed by this 250-foot fall.
The drive to Halawa Bay is gorgeous, and more of what you probably expect to see in Hawaii. The East end is wet, not dry like the west end, so the vegetation is green and dense. The ocean usually is calm and shallow, protected by the great reefs which ring all of East and South Molokai. Stop at popular Brown's beach, with parking on the side of the road at Mile Marker 20, for snorkeling inside the reef.
The North shore features the tallest sea cliffs in the world, rising over three thousand feet above the Pacific. Kalaupapa overlook is a breathtaking view of the infamous leper colony where Father Damien lived. The adventurous can take a 1,600 ft descent down to Kalaupapa on a mule ride for a tour of the historic town.
Be sure not to miss the drive to Mo'omomi Bay, and then the walk through the dunes, which is a Nature Conservancy protected point of beautiful coral and sandstone, where the endangered Hawaiian monk seals hang out. Call the Nature Conservancy in Kaunakakai for a permit or gate-opening instructions.
Papohaku Beach is the longest, unobstructed white sand beach in Hawaii that extends over three miles of coastline and is more than 300 yards wide. Dixie Maru Beach is popular with locals, located on the southwestern shore just below Papohaku. With a protected cove from trade winds, it's a nice spot for families. Like the North shore of Oahu, caution is advised for all beaches particularly during winter months.
Enjoy the drive to the old harbor at Hale o Lono, which is where most of the major outrigger canoe races start and where on any day, you'll see many locals fishing with poles and throw nets.