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Things To Do on Molokai

Hawaiʻi is packed with things to do, and Molokaʻi is no exception. Even though the “Friendly Isle” sees a fraction of visitors when compared to the larger islands, there are just as many things to do on Molokaʻi as anywhere else in Hawaiʻi.

Beachgoers here are spoiled for choice when it comes to hitting the beach, as Molokaʻi is graced with dozens of beaches that are often completely empty. You can leave the only string of footprints on a long, white sand shore, and then sit and watch a fiery sunset from a private oceanfront perch.

When it comes to snorkeling, Molokaʻi has something that no other island can offer—a fringing reef that spans 30 miles with dozens of spots to explore. Unlike the other Hawaiian Islands where you can snorkel or dive off the beach, only a handful of Molokaʻi beaches are protected enough for casual snorkeling. Instead, charter boats visit the massive reef off Molokaʻi’s southern coast, where sand channels, pinnacles, and deep blue holes offer endless opportunities for exploring underwater with no other boats in sight. In winter you’ll find pods of Humpback whales that breach and splash offshore, and the deep sea fishing is some of the best you’ll find in all of Hawaiʻi.

For an unforgettable island adventure unlike anywhere else in the world, hop on a boat and cruise the island’s rugged northern coast where the world’s tallest sea cliffs vertically rise over 3,300 feet.

On land, one of the most popular things to do on Molokaʻi is visit Kalaupapa, the isolated settlement for leprosy patients in the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Accessible by air, hiking trail, or mule, Kalaupapa is a tropical time warp that’s laced with history and tragedy, and as fascinating, inspiring, and scenic a spot as anywhere else on the globe.

Hiking is another Molokaʻi activity that’s wildly underrated, and the cultural hike up Halawa Valley is one of the state’s best tours. Up in the cloud forests of the Pepeopa‘e Bog, a muddy network of hiking trails weaves through the misty Molokaʻi Forest Reserve, and the rugged trail to Pelekunu overlook offers views looking down over 4,000 feet toward a valley that looks exactly the same now as it did when voyaging Polynesians first discovered and settled the islands.

The number of things to do on Molokaʻi definitely doesn’t stop there, as there are kayak tours of the southern coast and stand up paddling tours. There are farms where you can buy local papaya or learn to crack macadamias. You can decorate a coconut and ship it home, or send it as a gift to a friend. You can also find live hula and Hawaiian music at Hotel Molokai each night.

Mostly, however, the best thing to do on Molokaʻi is simply kick back, breathe, and relax, and practice the endangered art of simply enjoying the present moment.

Listen to the sound of palm trees rustling overhead in the breeze or watch the tide pull back from the reef just to wash back later that day. It’s talking story with island locals and enjoying a filling plate lunch or maybe even volunteering to restore an ancient fishpond. One thing you definitely won’t do on Molokai is sit in traffic or stress, and it’s an island that time has fortuitously forgotten—which is just the way everyone likes it.

Halawa Valley

Photo: Reed Hockaday.

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