Often referred to as ‘The most Hawaiian island’ Molokai provides a unique experience to those willing to reconsider their standard escape. With little other than true Aloha on offer, the island will force even the most formidable workaholic to slow down and disconnect.
First time visitors should note that unlike its neighbours, Molokai does not offer the quintessential Hawaiian holiday. There are no major chain hotels and supermarkets, no five star resorts and very few tour operators.
Molokai offers a glimpse into times long past A time when Hawaiian royalty ruled over the island, when the locals fished the waters off the coast and lived off the land.
Without the usual selection of restaurants, activities and tours to occupy your time Molokai encourages you to connect with the heritage of the Hawaiian people, to drink in the lush landscape and immerse yourself in the tropical waters.
How to get to Molokai
If you plan to arrive by air, Mokulele Air offer daily flights from Ohau, Maui and Hawai’I (The Big Island). Note that while most routes operate a regular service, the last flight of the day will depart around 6pm. If you plan to arrive from an international location and connect across to Molokai it may be necessary to book a layover on either Oahu or Hawai’i.
Arriving onto Oahu after dark on an international flight from New Zealand, we checked into the Honolulu Airport Hotel and flew out to Molokai on the first flight the following day. Should you find yourself in a similar position I highly recommend a short layover at this Outrigger property. Thanks to their free airport shuttle and affordable nightly rates we were able to maximise our time on Molokai.
Molokai is a great destination for a day trip. If you plan to visit neighbouring Maui you should definitely consider leaving the hustle and bustle of Lahaina behind for a day of disconnect bliss. Ferries operate a twice daily service.
Unlike neighbouring Maui, Lanai and Oahu, Molokai offers very few accommodation options. Yet despite the closure of the island’s only resort in 2008, there are still plenty of places to lay your head.
During our week on Molokai we rented a one bedroom Vacations-Abroad.com Wavecrest Condo which offers self-catered accommodation, a private lanai with views over the ocean to Maui, and use of a private pool. It is also equipped with snorkelling gear, beach towels, games and a small library of reference books detailing various aspects of the island and its heritage.
If self-catering your stay doesn’t appeal – although I highly recommend it as the dining options on the island are very limited – then take a look at Hotel Molokai. Styled after a Polynesian Village, Aqua Hotel Molokai is located on Kamiloloa Beach and offers open air, ocean front rooms and dinning at the Hula Shores restaurant.
The more adventurous might want to consider checking into Pu’u O Hoku Ranch. Offering a rather more rustic retreat this biodynamic and organic ranch and farm is set on 14,000 acres of protected land, immersed in the transcendent beauty of forest, sky and ocean.
Top attractions on Molokai
Where possible I highly recommend that you book your excursions through operators based on Molokai. This supports the local economy and promotes a fair market.
The history of Molokai island
Molokai is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and breathing in the island’s past is an integral itinerary addition.
Molokai mule ride
Three miles, 26 switchbacks and 90 minutes of magnificent views accompany the guided mule ride through Kalaupapa National Historical Park to the island’s leper colony. No longer dedicated to the quarantine of those afflicted with Hansen’s disease Kalaupapa is place of reflection, a remote memorial to those who lived out their lives in isolation.
Hawaiian fish ponds
One of the Hawaiians’ greatest engineering innovations was their use of aquaculture. Along the southern and south-eastern shores of the island you’ll find remnants of their ingenuity etched into the coastline. Call into the Destination Molokai Visitors Bureau in Kaunakakai for detailed directions.