Molokai is one of the lesser known Hawaiian islands, and is often overlooked due to its isolation and quiet nature. An island in its own right, tucked gently between Oahu and Maui, you may not have considered visiting Molokai before.
When booking a trip to Hawaii, most travelers will opt for either Oahu – where you’ll find Honolulu and the famous Waikiki Beach. Others may choose Maui, for its culture, beautiful beaches, surfing opportunities, and laid back feel.
Further down the list is Big Island, Kauai and even Lanai. You therefore, may not have ever heard of Molokai before, as it’s only the fifth largest Hawaiian island in the archipelago.
But Molokai is not a place you’ll want to miss if you love Hawaiian culture. Find out in this guide why this Hawaiian island (see also: The Ultimate Visitor Guide To Peanut Island In Florida)should be on your bucket list!
Molokai is the fifth most populated of the Hawaiian islands, making it not one of the first choices for tourists and locals alike.
But, Molokai is not to be underestimated. This island has one of the longest coral reefs and the longest stretch of white sand in Hawaii, (see also: Are There Snakes On The Island Of Hawaii? Poisonous Snakes In Hawaii And More)with some of the most impressive sea cliffs you’ll find on the planet.
The reason Molokai is not often visited by tourists is because it is largely underdeveloped, and has a much more laid back vibe.
There’s not many attractions or visitor centers to explore, and not even a Target, ABC Stores or Walmart. It’s very small, relaxed, and feels a little ignored or underdeveloped, but that’s not a bad thing!
There’s an apparent small town feel in Molokai, where everybody knows each other, for a close knit community that you don’t find in many places anymore.
Unlike places like Waikiki, which is booming with tourists and locals coming through, Molokai is very welcoming, friendly, and personal.
You’ll find small scale, local businesses, a hometown feel, and you won’t be rushing around in a congested city like you would in Oahu.
Molokai is very agricultural, but the appeal of this island is its beautiful scenery, untouched by tourism, and secluded beaches(see also: 20 Of The Best Secluded Beaches in Florida You Need To Check Out). You’ll be welcomed by locals of Molokai with open arms, and an open heart.
There’s a reason Molokai is referred to as ‘The Friendly Island’. While residents have been unwelcoming to corporations hoping to develop the island, they are known for being warm and welcoming to travelers hoping to get a real, authentic Hawaiian experience.
Why You Need To Visit Molokai
So, what can you do in Molokai, and why should you see it for yourself? Going to Molokai is like stepping back in time to a simpler, more authentic Hawaii.
In Molokai, although there is a clear lack of modern development, you’ll find uncrowded nature, unspoiled wilderness and stunning landscapes.
Molokai is like heading to Hawaii in the 1950s, it’s not all about the tourist, heading to luaus or drinking cocktails. What you will find is a group of people hoping to preserve Hawaiian culture for what it used to be.
You will also quickly learn that the residents of Molokai want to share their homeland and culture with you, and there are many places you can go in Molokai to do this.
The coral reef in Molokai is unlike any other, as it stretches for over 30 miles, in what we refer to as a ‘fringing reef’.
This reef is around half a mile from the shore, making it perfect for snorkeling or diving, where you can see the stunning coral for yourself, or plenty of reef fish when the waters are calm.
There are many historical sites to visit in Molokai. Kalaupapa Peninsula is home to the highest sea cliffs in the world that rise to 610 m over the Pacific. Kalaupapa is also home to a national park, which holds a poignant point in Hawaiian history.
This was the home of those afflicted with leprosy, who were forced to isolate in this place by King Kamehameha V.
This remote island was deemed the perfect place to isolate those suffering from Hansen’s disease, where they could be secluded and self-sufficient to prevent the spread of disease.
However, those banished from society struggled to cope with the illness and take care of themselves while cut off from the world. The historical site is a vital part of Hawaiian history, and one that should be respected and understood.
You could also visit Molokai Museum & Cultural Center to catch a glimpse of what life in Molokai was like for those who lived here over the last 150 years.
You’ll find personal accounts of the patients of Kalaupapa, a tour of the R.W. Meyer Sugar Mill, and learn all about Molokai’s agricultural history.
Molokai is full of beautiful deep valleys such as Halawa Valley where you can hike and explore the lush greenery, or visit the beach and see the spectacular waterfalls that Molokai has to offer.
Alternatively, you can visit Pala’au State Park for picturesque views, camping or hiking trails.
These falls are known as one of the most accessible waterfalls in Molokai, with a 250 ft exquisite waterfall that is a sight to behold. Hidden in the Halawa Valley, these falls are a must see. You can walk the trails yourself, or use a local tour operator.
Post A Nut
If Molokai is known for anything, it’s the island’s nut trade. Molokai has many Macadamia nut farms, but you’ll have the most fun posting a coconut anywhere across the world. You can design, paint and send your own coconut.
After decorating, you have your own one of a kind souvenir from Molokai that you can ship back home, or send to anywhere in the world via USPS! It’s a lot of fun, and not something many people can say they have done!
Why You May Not Like Molokai
On Molokai, there is not a lot for tourists. You won’t find surf lessons, big attractions, nightclubs, or anything to that effect. There will not be lavish resorts or beach clubs. If you’re looking for that, then go to Oahu. This is the real Hawaii.
While you will be welcomed in Molokai, you will not be treated like royalty or served on hand and foot like you would on other Hawaiian islands.
The people here are simply existing, and are happy to have you there, but their lives don’t revolve around tourists or serving travelers.
One of the more unique things about Molokai is that there is only one single hotel on the island, and so little traffic that there are no traffic lights either! This is due to its very small population, which makes up only about 0.5% of Hawaii’s entire population.
You’ll only find a few restaurants and street food shacks, with even fewer stores and shops to enjoy, so if you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of a busy Hawaiian town, then you won’t find it here.
To summarize, Molokai is one of the lesser known islands of the Hawaiian archipelagos. If you’ve never been to Hawaii, then heading to Molokai may not give you the typical ‘Hawaii’ you’ve heard about with luaus, leis, or cookouts.
What you will find in Molokai is an authentic, real experience of what Hawaii used to be before tourism and commercialism.
If you’ve already explored islands like Oahu or Maui before, then Molokai should be top of your bucket list to further understand the real Hawaiian culture and history.
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