Places on Molokai

The island of Molokai is so laidback, that sitting and doing nothing at all still counts as a thing to do.

After all, this island of only 7,000 people is free of the fast paced hustle and bustle you’ll find on the larger islands and is a calming sanctuary of tropical simplicity where listening to the wind, or just watching the sunset, are completely legitimate and worthwhile ways to spend the hours in a day.

That said, there are still enough places to see on Molokai that you don’t want to spend every waking moment in a hammock or oceanfront beach chair. There are ancient valleys to be explored, stretches of sand that need footprints, and hole in the wall restaurants with locally-sourced food your stomach will thank you for visiting.

One of the most popular places to see on Molokai is Kalaupapa Peninsula, a rugged and wave battered sprig of land that famously served as a leprosy colony for nearly 100 years. Accessible by foot, by plane, or by mule, Kalaupapa is a place where visitors can journey back in time and hear the stories of leprosy patients who not only originally contracted the disease—but also lived through a cure—and chose to live out the rest of their days in the town at the base of the cliffs.

To explore the island’s ancient culture, one of the best places to visit in Molokai is verdant Halawa Valley, where a half-day, guided cultural tour takes visitors on foot to the back of the valley and thundering Mo‘oula Falls. Over the course of the three-hour hike, visitors will learn how to respectfully ask for permission to enter the valley and see remnants of walls, terraces and burial sites that Ancient Hawaiians constructed here as early as 650 AD.

Some other places to visit on Molokai are the local fruit stands and farms where you can learn to crack a macadamia nut at Purdy’s Mac Nut Farm or pick up organic papayas and produce at popular Kumu Farms. At the small post office in Ho‘olehua, you can even decorate a dried coconut and then ship it home through the mail.

If the sun is shining high in the sky—or sinking low on the horizon—head to the string of west shore beaches where you can have an entire beach to yourself at spots like Kawakiu, or watch the sunset from Papohaku—one of the largest beaches in Hawaii.

To refuel after all the exploring, grab a filling, local plate lunch at the Kualapu‘u Cookhouse, or dine at the island’s only oceanfront restaurant inside of Hotel Molokai. Some of the most iconic places to see on Molokai are the island’s restaurants and eateries, such as Kanemitsu Bakery in Kaunakakai and famous “hot bread lane.” Beginning every night at 8pm, a takeout window behind the bakery serves loaves of sweet bread as big as your head that will satisfy the world’s strongest sweet tooth. Finding the window means taking a stroll down a small, dimly-lit lane. It’s the last place you’d expect to find one of Molokai’s most popular stops, but things are refreshingly different on the Friendly Isle—which is just the way everybody likes it.