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Molokai Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated May 2024 ⋅ Written by Vanessa Howard ⋅ Edited by Laura Schulthies

Molokai Visitors Guide
Molokai Travel Guide : Things to do in Molokai Hawaii

Welcome to Molokai

For those looking for an authentic Hawaiian Island experience, the 5th largest Hawaiian Island, Molokai, is perfect for your next trip. Steeped in Hawaiian culture and authentic experiences, Molokai is for those who want to experience some of the most extensive untouched natural landscapes on the Hawaiian Islands. Often known as the Friendly Isle, this hidden gem is excellent for nature and hiking enthusiasts. Keep reading for everything you need to know to plan your trip to the authentic island of Molokai, Hawaii.

For those looking for an authentic Hawaiian Island experience, the 5th largest Hawaiian Island, Molokai, is perfect for your next trip. Steeped in Hawaiian culture and authentic experiences, Molokai is for those who want to experience some of the most extensive untouched natural landscapes on the Hawaiian Islands. Often known as the Friendly Isle, this hidden gem is excellent for nature and hiking enthusiasts. Keep reading for everything you need to know to plan your trip to the authentic island of Molokai, Hawaii.

Molokai Map

Molokai Map

Contents

Molokai Visitors Guide
Molokai History

A Bit Of History

Much like other Hawaiian Islands, around one and a half million years ago, two enormous volcanoes thrust through the surface of the Pacific Ocean to create the island of Molokai. Hawaiians first came to inhabit Molokai around 650 A.D.  Captain James Cook was the first to see Molokai in November 1778. He never reached the island, but in 1786 Captain George Dixon anchored off Molokai’s coast, and this was the first European visit to the island.

By 1866 leprosy was a worldwide pandemic, and King Kamehameha V designated Molokai as a sanitarium for lepers. This infectious disease impacts the respiratory system and nerves and results in a telltale clustering of the skin. The conspicuous symptoms were feared, and those with leprosy were largely stigmatized. Over 8,000 people were exiled to Molokai, primarily native Hawaiians.

Molokai Today

Molokai Today

Today much of Hawaii is modernized and home to modern conveniences, including towering resorts, but not this hidden gem. Instead, Molokai remains largely untouched by modern culture. Molokai deliberately moves at a much slower pace. There are no traffic lights or beachside cottages, and visitors can relax at a single resort or one of five condo complexes. You won’t find tourist traps on Molokai either, as there are less than 1,000 daily travelers to the island. The Friendly Isle is best known for offering an authentic Hawaiian experience and pristine natural wonders.

Where Is Molokai?

Molokai White Map

Molokai is part of the Hawaiian archipelago and is located in the central Pacific Ocean. It is the fifth-largest island in the Hawaiian chain, with a land area of approximately 260 square miles (670 square kilometers). Molokai is located about 25 miles to the east of Oahu across the Kaiwi Channel and just 8 miles northwest of Maui.

Molokai Visitors Guide
Molokai Visitors Guide

Best Time To Visit Molokai

Molokai can be visited throughout the year thanks to consistently warm weather. Temperatures generally range from the mid-70s to the high-80s all year long. However, the island does experience long periods of consecutive rain during the winter months from November through March. It is important to note that the weather in Molokai differs significantly from east to west. The east coast, or the windward side, is more tropical and wet. While the west coast, or the leeward side, is practically a desert climate.

Molokai can be visited throughout the year thanks to consistently warm weather. Temperatures generally range from the mid-70s to the high-80s all year long. However, the island does experience long periods of consecutive rain during the winter months from November through March. It is important to note that the weather in Molokai differs significantly from east to west. The east coast, or the windward side, is more tropical and wet. While the west coast, or the leeward side, is practically a desert climate.

December – March

If you plan on visiting Molokai in the winter months of December through March, you can expect the nights to be cooler in the mid-60’s. Don’t be surprised if you also experience a storm or two during these winter months. The rainy season lasts from early November through to late March, with January typically being the rainiest month of the year.

April – June

From April to June,Molokai is dry and does not get rain often. The daytime high is typically around 77°F in April and 81°F in June. This is an excellent time of year to visit the island, and due to its remote nature, you won’t have to deal with crowds during this season.

July – August

Summer brings the warmest weather to the island, but it remains a warm 84°F even during this time of year. August typically brings the hottest days of the year. The tropical sun can be extremely intense during the summer months, so it’s a good idea to exercise caution. Make sure to apply heavy-duty sunscreen.

September – November

Molokai’s sunniest month is usually September, with bright sunshine for nine hours daily. Known as one of the best times of year to visit Molokai, the sea is generally at its warmest throughout September and October, with water temperature reaching nearly 80°F (27°C).

December – March

If you plan on visiting Molokai in the winter months of December through March, you can expect the nights to be cooler in the mid-60’s. Don’t be surprised if you also experience a storm or two during these winter months. The rainy season lasts from early November through to late March, with January typically being the rainiest month of the year.

April – June

From April to June, Molokai is dry and does not get rain often. The daytime high is typically around 77°F in April and 81°F in June. This is an excellent time of year to visit the island, and due to its remote nature, you won’t have to deal with crowds during this season.

July – August

Summer brings the warmest weather to the island, but it remains a warm 84°F even during this time of year. August typically brings the hottest days of the year. The tropical sun can be extremely intense during the summer months, so it’s a good idea to exercise caution. Make sure to apply heavy-duty sunscreen.

September – November

Molokai’s sunniest month is usually September, with bright sunshine for nine hours daily. Known as one of the best times of year to visit Molokai, the sea is generally at its warmest throughout September and October, with water temperature reaching nearly 80°F (27°C).

  When Is Molokai Hurricane Season?

The hurricane season for Molokai, like in the rest of Hawaii, officially runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. However, the peak of the hurricane season in Hawaii is usually from mid-August to early October. While it’s important to be aware of the potential for hurricanes during this time, it’s worth noting that Hawaii is not typically affected by direct hits from hurricanes, as the islands are small targets in a vast ocean and the mountains of Hawaii can disrupt the flow of storm systems. Be sure to check weather reports ahead of time and we always suggest getting travel insurance during these months just in case.

Hurricane Season
Molokai Visitors Guide
Molokai Visitors Guide

How to Get to Molokai & Around

Transportation on Molokai is a bit more difficult due to the island’s small size and lack of tourism. There are several options in terms of car rentals, and there are several airlines that fly to Molokai.

Oahu Visitors Guide

Arrival By Air

The only way to reach Molokai is by air. The airport serving Molokai is called Molokai Airport (MKK) but is also known as Hoolehua Airport. It’s located in the community of Hoolehua, in the central part of Molokai. Both Hawaiian Airlines and the smaller Mokulele Airlines connect Molokai from Maui, Honolulu, and the Big Island. Unfortunately, the Molokai Ferry, which connects Molokai with both Maui and Lanai, is no longer in operation due to a lack of profitability.

  Search for great deals on flights here.

Rental Cars In Molokai

A rental car is necessary to explore the island of Molokai and a 4-wheel drive is highly recommended for travel around the island. There are only two car rental car options on Molokai, Alamo and Molokai Car Rental. Compact cars cost around $118 in low season, and $153 in high season. While SUVs cost about $194 per day. It is highly recommended to reserve a car as soon as possible because there aren’t many vehicles available, especially during peak season. The price of gas is extremely high on this smaller island despite its proximity to Maui. Molokai actually sees some of the highest gas prices in the United States. That said, travel distances are close on this small island, making the high gas prices easier to handle.

  Search for great deals on rental cars here.

Oahu Visitors Guide

Taxis In Molokai

Taxi services are available on Molokai but are only recommended for short stays because they can be quite expensive. Companies such as Hele Mai Taxi provide Molokai with island-wide service. They also offer exclusive private island tours.

Things To Do in Molokai

Molokai's Top Highlights

Molokai is vibrant and tropical, but it’s worlds apart from the other Hawaiian Islands. One of the main draws to Molokai is the abundance of outdoor activities and the beautiful unspoiled nature of the island. Those looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience will love the island of Molokai.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Take A Stroll Along Papohaku Beach
Molokai Visitors Guide
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1. Take A Stroll Along Papohaku Beach

Imagine strolling along a pristine ivory sand beach, enjoying a beautiful technicolor sunset. If that sounds like heaven, then Papohaku Beach is your ideal spot. As Molokai’s longest stretch of beach, it’s also incredibly tranquil and serene, thanks to the lack of tourism on the island.

This part of the island is rarely crowded, which gives this beach the feel of a private stretch of sand. Enjoy an uninterrupted stroll along Papohaku Beach, and you won’t be able to help but feel like you have the beach all to yourself.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Hike Halawa Valley For Incredible Views
Molokai Visitors Guide
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2. Hike Halawa Valley For Incredible Views

Halawa Valley is on the east end of the island of Molokai and offers a glimpse into one of Hawaii’s earliest settlements. Hikers get to see the views of the lush cliffs and two large waterfalls, but they also get a glimpse of history at this magical spot on Molokai. Keep an eye out for the historical relics throughout the valley!

The Halawa Valley Views trail is one of the most popular on the island, and once you see the view of the valley, you’ll understand why. The green foliage and lush rolling waterfalls make the entire hike worth the climb. Visitors require a guide to make the trek, but there are plenty of options to get to these fantastic views.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Tour Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Molokai Visitors Guide
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3. Tour Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa is one of Molokai’s most beautiful spots, thanks to being completely surrounded by the Pacific’s blue waters. This peninsula has not always been just a place to access incredible views. It has a dark history as it was a place of exile for people afflicted with leprosy (Hansen’s Disease).

The people of Kalaupapa were forced to remain there when the disease was believed to be highly contagious, and antibiotics had not been developed to treat leprosy yet. Kalaupapa is a national historic park, but you won’t find any shopping or dining here. Make sure to take a tour, but eat before you begin.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Standard health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country so travel insurance will cover any emergency medical needs as well as trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), flight delays, missed connections and more. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Mail A Coconut From The Hoolehua Post Office
Molokai Visitors Guide
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4. Mail A Coconut From The Hoolehua Post Office

If you are looking for a quirky and fun souvenir for family and friends, then the Hoolehua Post Office has you covered. Don’t send something like a boring postcard, instead, you can send a coconut all the way from Molokai, Hawaii. While the postage can be a little pricey, at $15, the post office always keeps coconuts and decorations on hand to make them your own.

The Post-a-Nut program has garnered the attention of many visitors, as they mail around 3,000 coconuts per year! This is a fun way to remember your time on the unique island of Molokai.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Get In The Water
Molokai Visitors Guide
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5. Get In The Water

Although Molokai is small, there are plenty of water activities for those seeking adventure. You can snorkel along one of the longest continuous fringing reefs. Or go whale watching in the Pacific Ocean. If you’re looking for a more relaxed activity, try kayaking or paddle boarding along the white sandy shores of the famous Papohaku Beach.

Thanks to the lack of visitors to the islands, the waters here are often calm and primed for you to see the wonders of the underwater world below.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Visit Molokai’s Macadamia Nut Farm
Molokai Visitors Guide
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6. Visit Molokai's Macadamia Nut Farm

The Macadamia Nut Farm of Molokai has been welcoming visitors to their five acres of paradise that is home to all-natural organic macadamia nuts for over 35 years. Around 50 macadamia nut trees are on the property, and the nuts are harvested once they’ve fallen from the trees. They are roasted in a large oven right on the property.

You can take a free guided tour of the farm to learn how macadamia nuts are grown, harvested, and processed. The tours are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 2 pm at 4 Lihi Pali Ave, Ho’olehua, Hawaii. Tours include demonstrations and free samples of unsalted raw or naturally roasted macadamia nuts. You can also purchase macadamia blossom honey. Yum!

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Explore The Kamakou Preserve
Molokai Visitors Guide
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7. Explore The Kamakou Preserve

If you are looking to explore a moss-covered rainforest that is home to various wildlife and plants, look no further than Kamakou Preserve. Walking along the narrow three-mile boardwalk, you will feel like you have entered a time machine.

The 2,774-acre pristine preserve is located on the slopes of Kamakou, Molokai’s highest mountain. As you hike through the preserve, take in the sweet songs of native songbirds and keep an eye out for colorfully banded tree snails. To get to the preserve, you will need a 4WD vehicle, make sure to plan accordingly with your rental car.

Take advantage of the overlook at Pelekunu Valley, where you will be treated to awe-inspiring deep chasms and majestic sea cliffs that plunge into the sea.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Don’t Miss The Hot Bread At Kanemitsu Bakery
Molokai Visitors Guide
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8. Don't Miss The Hot Bread At Kanemitsu Bakery

No visit to Molokai would be complete without tasting the famously delicious “hot bread” from the local institution Kanemitsu Bakery. In operation for over 80 years, this local bakery has attracted visitors and locals alike with its hot bread. What can you expect? A serving of gooey, split-open loaves of bread topped with mouthwatering jelly, cinnamon, butter, or strawberry cream cheese spread.

Around 9 pm or so, the back alley of the bakery becomes popular and is known as “Hot Bread Lane.” The alley becomes busy as both locals and tourists line up to taste the irresistible warm bread straight from the oven.

The bakery is at 79 Ala Malama Ave, Kaunakakai, Hawaii. It is open every day except Tuesday and serves fresh papaya bread, taro donuts, cinnamon rolls, other breakfast pastries, and coffee.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Get A Birds Eye View
Molokai Visitors Guide
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9. Get A Birds Eye View

A fantastic way to take in the natural beauty of Molokai is from the sky. Most helicopter tours include Maui and Molokai and a flight over the gorgeous channel that separates them. As you fly toward Molokai, you will take in the stunning vertical sea cliffs that tower over 4,000 feet to the turbid shoreline below.

  There are several helicopter tour options on Molokai, including this fantastic West Maui and Molokai Special 45-Minute Helicopter Tour.

Molokai Visitors Guide
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Stroll Through The Molokai Plumeria Farm
Molokai Visitors Guide
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10. Stroll Through The Molokai Plumeria Farm

If you love the sweet scents of these beautiful blossoms, then you will love the Molokai Plumeria Farm. The smell reaches you long before the sea of yellow and white blooms comes into view at Molokai’s Plumeria Farm.

You’ll find plenty of things to do, including strolling the 10-acre farm a few miles from Kaunakakai. Make sure to pick flowers to make your very own lei afterward. You can also take a guided workshop to sew your lei or buy one to take with you. These stunning flowers last up to 45 hours, so you can reap the rewards of your activity long after you’ve left the farm.

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