We’ve all heard of Maui and Oahu — that’s old hat. But what about Molokai? This small island is just 15 miles southeast of Maui, but it couldn’t be more different. Here, you won’t find skyscrapers, crowds of tourists, chain restaurants (or chain anything), or another soul on your rugged hike (if you so desire). Really the only way to describe the island — as many of its residents love to do — is to call it simple. Because it is. There are no tourist traps, just pure, wild, uninhibited nature. So… What’s there to do on such a simple island? Plenty, as long as you’re not coming to Hawaii for gourmet food, flashy clubs, or a five-star pampered vacation. But if “Adventure” is your middle name, read on to see why people are starting to look at this tiny isle for the ultimate off-the-grid journey.

The Beaches

Untouched, uncrowded, and perfectly accessible, Molokai is the ultimate spot to truly unwind on a Hawaiian vacation. Papohaku — or the 3-mile beach — is the best place to start exploring the island’s unspoiled beaches. Generally empty, it’s very likely that you’ll be sharing 3 miles of sandy beach with maybe five other people. You can swim, ride some waves, jog along the pristine shores, or simply relax. If you want to check out black sand beaches, Halawa Beach Park is the place to be. Swimmers and snorkelers should head to Murphy Beach Park for the clearest waters and calming surroundings.

The Outdoors

Molokai’s rugged forests beckon the intrepid explorer: trails all to themselves, challenging hikes, stunning views… It’s an adventurer’s dream come true. The island’s most popular hike, Kalaupapa, must be completed with a guide — a visitor favorite is the mule ride to the top and a scary descent down the 1,700-foot sea cliffs. A tamer, but still exhilarating, hike is the 3.4-mile guided trek to Mo’oula Falls with Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike. They provide local knowledgeable guides to make your experience that much better! Other outdoors adventures include hiking through the Kamakou Preserve, touring the Mo’omomi Preserve (both preserves require making a reservation and touring with a National Park guide), and snorkeling the island’s 30-mile barrier reef.

The Food

Nope. There’s no five-star dining here, but there are real luaus, homemade meals, and traditional Hawaiian cooking. But perhaps the thing that you simply cannot leave Molokai without indulging in is the island’s famous sweet bread. For the best taste, head to Kanemitsu’s Bakery and Restaurant and taste the fluffy goodness of airy bread stuffed with strawberry jam (or, opt for non-traditional flavors like coconut, cheese, or onion). Besides the bread, there are plenty of low-key seafood and American comfort food joints that are locally owned and approved. For a taste of Hawaii’s coffee scene, check out Coffees of Hawai’i — a shop that also offers tours of the on-site plantation along with its servings of an authentic Hawaiian cup of joe.

The Accommodations

There’s only one hotel on the whole island: Hotel Moloka’i. It’s located on the south-central part of the island, next to Kaunakakai. There are a handful of condo options throughout the island, as well as private houses available for rent and quaint bed and breakfasts. You can check them out on the island’s official website. For those willing to rough it, there are plenty of beaches where visitors can simply pitch a tent and enjoy the island — the most popular of which are Papohaku Beach Park and the One Ali’i Beach Park. Remember to get the proper permits and make reservations in advance to secure your spot.

So, ready to book your trip to Molokai?

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About The Author

Mary Zakheim
Content Writer

When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch. Mary is a content writer at Fareportal and likes annoying her coworkers with weird GIFs throughout the day.