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Overview

Molokai, an east-west wedge in the Pacific, rises from sea level fishponds on the south to 3,600-foot high cliffs, the world's steepest, on the north. Going east to west cactus becomes coco palms. Seven thousand mostly native Hawaiians opposed to change cling to this 38-mile-long volcanic chunk, hunting and fishing, helped out by food stamps. One third of the island is a private ranch, the main tourist attraction is a leper colony, and 250-foot Moaula Falls in Halawa Valley, now privately held, is off-limits. You either love Molokai, or leave it. Relax. Or ride a bicycle down a flat, 26-mile-long, two-lane highway named for a king. Visit ...

Molokai, an east-west wedge in the Pacific, rises from sea level fishponds on the south to 3,600-foot high cliffs, the world's steepest, on the north. Going east to west cactus becomes coco palms. Seven thousand mostly native Hawaiians opposed to change cling to this 38-mile-long volcanic chunk, hunting and fishing, helped out by food stamps. One third of the island is a private ranch, the main tourist attraction is a leper colony, and 250-foot Moaula Falls in Halawa Valley, now privately held, is off-limits. You either love Molokai, or leave it. Relax. Or ride a bicycle down a flat, 26-mile-long, two-lane highway named for a king. Visit Iliiliopae heiau, where kahuna taught sacrificial rites. Explore Moomomi Dunes which yield bones of flightless birds. Attend Ka Hula Piko festival held each May. Sleep with 6000 cows on 5,300-acre Molokai Ranch where you can ride horses, go mountain biking, or kayak the coast. Or visit Kalaupapa National Park, the 1860s leper colony, where Father Damien de Veuster died of the disease caring for the afflicted. Visitors take an unforgettable mule ride down the nearly vertical cliff to experience the haunting isolation. Dining out involves chili rice, poke, (raw tuna with soy sauce and seaweed) and cold Bud. Other singular attractions include: the port town of Kaunakakai, Papohaku Beach, a two-mile strand with risky surf, Mapulehu where 2000 varieties of mango trees flourish, and Phallic Rock, a fertility rock said to cause pregnancy.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year-round but especially in May and October.