14 Things to Do on Molokai: Ultimate Guide to Unforgettable Experiences

by | Apr 16, 2024

Looking for things to do on Molokai? You’re in the right spot. Molokai, known as “The Friendly Isle,” offers an escape unlike any other in Hawaii.

Located in Maui County, life moves at a leisurely pace, far removed from the buzz of tourist hotspots found on neighboring islands.

This blog post will guide you through the top things to do on Molokai, from breathtaking hikes to unique local experiences.


How Do You Pronounce Molokai?

The proper pronunciation of Molokai is Moloka’i with the ‘okina (glottal stop). How to say Moloka’i phonetically would be moh-loh-KAH-ee.

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This things to do on Molokai post is written by Bryan Murphy, an expert in Hawaii travel and a top-rated podcast host. The post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you use the provided links. Learn more on my privacy policy page.

Planning Your Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources!

🏨 Accommodations: We recommend Expedia

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🌺 Luaus and Tours: We recommend Hawaii Tours

📱 Mobile Tour App: Our favorite is Shaka Guide

Molokai isn’t just another island destination; it’s a journey back to old Hawaii, where community and culture stand tall and untouched landscapes invite exploration.

Whether you’re craving outdoor adventures or yearning to dive deep into Hawaiian traditions, we’ve got your itinerary covered.

Ready to discover things to do on Molokai island? Keep reading!

Key Takeaways of Things to Do on Molokai

  • Explore Molokai’s unspoiled beauty with activities like the Halawa Valley Cultural Hike, where you can swim at Moa’ula Falls and learn about ancient Hawaiian culture.
  • Experience unique local adventures such as mailing a coconut through Post-A-Nut, making your own lei at the Molokai Plumeria Farm, and trying fresh hot bread at Kanemitsu Bakery.
  • Dive into outdoor thrills with a helicopter tour over Molokai and Maui, zipline adventures in Maui’s mountains, or join the Waakapaemua Canoe Club for kayaking along the coast.
  • Enjoy local cuisine from places like Molokai Burger for comfort food, Ono Fish & Shrimp Food Truck for seafood delights, and Hiro’s Ohana Grill for fine dining by the sea.

Recommended Molokai Tours

Exploring the Attractions of Molokai

Halawa Valley on Molokai

Halawa Valley on Molokai

Molokai invites you to step off the beaten path and dive into its unspoiled beauty. From lush valleys to breathtaking sea precipices, every turn reveals a new adventure waiting just for you.

1. Halawa Valley Cultural Hike

Trek through Halawa Valley to unearth the heart of Molokai’s ancient culture. This journey is not just a walk; it’s a time machine to when nature and spirituality intertwined seamlessly.

Guides, filled with knowledge, take you past taro fields that glitter under the sun and lead you to temples that have seen centuries pass by.

Their stories breathe life into the stone structures and plants around you, making each step a lesson in history.

The path culminates at Moa’ula Falls – a sight so stunning it captures your breath before cascading down rocky facades into an inviting pool below.

Here, jumping in for a swim isn’t just about cooling off; it’s connecting with something timeless.

Along this hike, every leaf and waterfall whisper tales of the valley’s heritage, offering insights no textbook could match.

This adventure offers more than scenic views; it invites you on an intimate dialogue with Molokai’s past and present.

Walking this route feels like flipping through pages of an open-air museum dedicated to Hawaiian lore and natural beauty—a true blend of education, exercise, and enlightenment.

2. Papohaku Beach Park

Papohaku Beach Park sits on Molokai’s west shore, a stone’s throw from Hiro’s Ohana Grill. This spot offers more than just stunning views; it’s an invitation to experience Molokai in its raw beauty.

Picture yourself camping under the stars, the sound of waves as your evening lullaby. Unlike big resorts, this park gives you a cozy corner in nature without breaking the bank.

The beach stretches three miles with golden sands waiting for footprints and daydreams. For those looking to dive into island life without splurging on a hotel, Papohaku provides an escape to simplicity.

With no towering hotels or busy streets, you get what many travelers miss: peace and a genuine taste of Hawaii away from crowds.

Don’t forget your hiking shoes and swimsuits because exploring is part of the adventure here. From sunrise walks on endless beaches to sunset campfires, Papohaku turns visitors into storytellers.

Plus, staying at this park plants you close to some of Molokai’s most cherished natural treasures – perfect for budget-savvy explorers eager to soak in every moment.

3. Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa National Historical Park Molokai

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa National Historical Park sits on the Kalaupapa Peninsula, offering more than just breathtaking sea cliffs and lush scenery. This spot tells the story of a former leprosy colony, where people with Hansen’s disease lived away from others.

You’ll need a permit to enter, making it all the more special. Once inside, guided tours reveal tales of resilience and hope. Don’t miss seeing St. Philomena Church or the beaconing Kalaupapa Lighthouse, each with stories whispering through their walls.

Your visit here isn’t just a walk in the park; it’s stepping into pages of Hawaiian history and culture. The restricted access preserves its tranquility and significance—making your experience truly memorable.

Gaze out at towering cliffs dropping into crystal waters below and imagine life here in times gone by. It’s an essential part of Molokai you won’t want to pass up for anything—a journey back in time that will touch your heart deeply.

4. Kamakou Preserve

Kamakou Preserve is a wild garden on Molokai’s highest mountain, covering 2,774 acres. It’s home to rare plants and animals you won’t see anywhere else. Imagine walking through clouds, surrounded by the songs of endangered birds like the oloma’o and kakawahie.

But getting there is an adventure itself. You’ll need a 4WD vehicle or one that’s allowed off-road if you’re renting.

Dress for a trek – long pants and shoes with good grip are musts. As you journey deeper into this lush haven, Pelekunu Valley awaits with its stunning depth and sea cliffs that dive straight into the ocean.

It’s not just a walk in the park; it’s stepping into another world where every turn shows you nature untouched by time.

Unique Experiences in Molokai

Molokai offers one-of-a-kind adventures you won’t find anywhere else. From mailing a coconut at the local post office to waking up early for some of the freshest bread around, your days will be full of surprises.

Imagine kayaking with locals or wandering through a sea of plumeria flowers – it’s all waiting for you here. So, lace up your shoes and get ready to explore what makes Molokai truly special!

5. Post-A-Nut at the Local Post Office

post-a-nut molokai post office

                Credit: Post-a-Nut

At the local post office in Hoolehua, Molokai, you can join in on a fun activity called Post-A-Nut.

Here, you get to pick out a coconut and decorate it with their own designs. Imagine sending a beachy hello or aloha from Hawaii without needing any packaging!

This quirky program turns your creativity into an unforgettable postcard.

Every year, about 3,000 coconuts travel across oceans to surprise people everywhere.

Getting your hands dirty with paint and markers at the post office might not be what you expected to do on vacation.

Yet, this experience creates memories and sends a piece of tropical paradise flying through the mail system.

People love opening their doors to find these husky hellos from Molokai. It’s all part of making sure those who aren’t with you can still taste the island magic.

So grab that coconut and let your imagination run wild. Whether it’s doodles, messages, or artwork—your unique touch will make someone’s day brighter when they crack open their mailbox.

The best part? You’re engaging with Hawaiian culture in one of its most modern and whimsical forms. Time spent waiting for paint to dry is small compared to the smiles created miles away.

6. Visit the Molokai Plumeria Farm

Plumeria farm on molokai

Step into a world of vibrant colors and sweet scents at the Molokai Plumeria Farm. This spot gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how these charming flowers grow. You’ll see fields blooming with plumerias in every shade imaginable.

The best part? You get to craft your very own lei from these blossoms. It’s like taking a piece of Molokai with you, but way better than just a photo.

The farm doesn’t stop with plumerias; it’s also home to macadamia nuts and coffee plants. Picture yourself strolling among rows of coffee trees, learning about the journey from bean to cup.

Or cracking open a fresh macadamia nut right there among the trees. This place offers more than sights—it’s an invitation to touch, smell, and taste Molokai in its purest form.

7. Indulge in fresh bread at Kanemitsu Bakery

Kanemitsu Bakery lights up Kaunakakai with its famous “hot bread” from evening till late.

For more than 80 years, this spot has drawn both locals and visitors. Imagine biting into a giant loaf filled with your choice of jelly, butter, cinnamon, or strawberry cream cheese spread.

It’s not just bread; it’s a taste of Molokai history.

You can find yourself heading down “HOT BREAD LANE” in the cool night air. The smell of freshly baked dough guides you towards this treasure trove of pastries.

There’s something magical about holding a warm loaf right out of the oven under the starlit Hawaiian sky.

Eating at Kanemitsu is more than a meal; it’s witnessing tradition alive and well on Molokai.

8. Kayaking with Waakapaemua Canoe Club

Slide into a 40-foot outrigger canoe with the Waakapaemua Canoe Club for an adventure on the waves.

This isn’t your average paddle around the lake. You’re in Kaunakakai Harbor, ready to glide along Molokai’s stunning coast.

With every stroke, you’ll feel a connection with Hawaii’s crystal-clear waters and breathtaking landscapes.

This club gives you more than just a view; it offers an authentic experience of Molokai from the waterline. Picture yourself cutting through the ocean, surrounded by nature’s splendor, getting perspectives that land lovers miss out on.

It’s all about seeing Molokai through its heartbeats – its oceans and waves.

With Waakapaemua Canoe Club leading the way, days are filled with laughter, sun on your back, and salt in your hair. They make sure each moment is packed with joy and discovery. Ready for something far from ordinary? Grab that paddle!

Adventure and Outdoor Activities

molokai helicopter tour

Credit: Hawaii Tours

If you’re itching for thrills, Molokai serves them up big time. Picture zipping over lush valleys or hiking through dense forests where every step is an adventure waiting to happen.

9. Helicopter Tour of Molokai and Maui

Taking a helicopter tour of Molokai and Maui kicks your Hawaii adventure into high gear. Imagine lifting off from Maui, eyeing the vast blue Pacific Ocean below.

You’re not just any tourist; you’re an explorer soaring above some of the tallest sea cliffs on Earth.

The Molokai sea cliffs are a sight to behold from above – they’re like nature’s skyscrapers made of green velvet and rock.

This flight isn’t just about getting from point A to B. As you hover over Molokai, every turn reveals something new: hidden waterfallssecluded beaches, and landscapes so lush they seem painted on.

Your pilot doubles as your guide, pointing out spots only accessible by air and sharing stories that bring the island’s history alive.

From these heights, Molokai doesn’t just look great; it feels like another world — one where rugged beauty rules supreme over the untouched land and waters around it.

10. Waterfall and Rainforest Hiking Adventure

Step into the shoes of an explorer on Molokai, where waterfall and rainforest hikes are not just walks but adventures.

Your journey leads you to Halawa Valley, a place ripe with cultural tales and scenic wonders.

Here, trails wind through lush rainforests, uncovering paths to Hipuapua Falls and Moa’ula Falls – two of nature’s masterpieces.

Every step is a story unfolding under the canopy of towering trees and beside streams that dance over rocks.

Prepare for a day packed with awe as you trek along these trails. You’ll feel the mist from cascading waterfalls cool your face, hear birds sing their melodies, and maybe even spot a turtle or two lounging in quiet ponds.

Hiking in Molokai isn’t just about seeing; it’s about connecting with Hawaii’s vibrant heart. So lace up those hiking shoes tight – adventure calls in the island’s untouched landscapes!

Local Dining and Culinary Experiences

Kanemitsu’s Bakery & Coffee Shop Molokai

Credit: Kanemitsu’s Bakery & Coffee Shop

Molokai serves up flavors that tell a story of the island. From ocean-fresh fish at Hiro’s Ohana Grill to morning delights from Kanemitsu’s Bakery, each bite takes you on a journey.

11. Molokai Burger

Sink your teeth into a classic burger at Molokai Burger, where comfort food takes center stage. This spot is a hit among locals and visitors alike on the island of Molokai.

Picture yourself biting into a juicy burger paired with crispy waffle fries – it’s the perfect meal to fuel your island adventures. With doors open wide for most of the day, you can stroll in anytime your cravings hit.

Feasting here isn’t just about satisfying hunger; it’s about experiencing Molokai’s laid-back charm. The restaurant prides itself on its friendly atmosphere, making everyone feel right at home.

Whether you’re taking a break from exploring or just need a quick bite that promises to delight, this eatery won’t disappoint.

12. Kanemitsu’s Bakery & Coffee Shop

Kanemitsu’s Bakery & Coffee Shop sits in the heart of Kaunakakai town on Molokai. This spot is all about the vibes and flavors that make Molokai special. Here, you can wake up to strong coffee and fill up on lunch that tastes like home.

But wait until evening rolls around – that’s when they serve their famous fresh hot bread right out of the oven. It’s a must-try local treat that keeps both visitors and residents coming back for more.

Walking into Kanemitsu’s is like stepping into a slice of Molokai life. The walls echo with friendly chatter, making it easy to strike up a conversation or just soak in the local ambiance as you enjoy your meal.

Known for its warm setting, this bakery offers an authentic taste of island cuisine recommended for anyone looking to experience true Hawaiian hospitality.

This place isn’t just where you go; it becomes a part of your Molokai adventure story—a cozy nook where every bite feels like a welcome from the island itself.

Whether starting your day or capping off an evening stroll with some freshly baked goodies, Kanemitsu’s Bakery & Coffee Shop embodies the spirit of aloha one loaf at a time.

13. A Taste of Molokai at Local Restaurants

Eating at local restaurants gives you a real taste of Molokai. Start your day with breakfast from Mana’e Goods and Grindz. They serve up hearty meals like eggs, rice, and the tastiest fried chicken around.

Open early until the afternoon, and are closed on Wednesdays.

For lunch or dinner, don’t miss Ono Fish & Shrimp Food Truck. The fish tacos are out of this world! And if you love seafood, their fish n chips and shrimp dishes will blow your mind.

It’s casual dining with flavors that pack a punch.

14. Hiro’s Ohana Grill

Hiro’s Ohana Grill stands out as a gem for food lovers on Molokai.

With its doors open at Hotel Molokai, it offers more than just a meal; it serves up an experience. Picture dining al fresco right on Kamiloloa Beach, where the ocean whispers while you enjoy fine dining with local flavors.

It’s the only spot on the island where you can savor your dinner with a side of alcohol, elevating your evening under Hawaii’s starlit sky.

This place is not just about filling your stomach but about feasting your senses. From the fresh catch of the day to tropical cocktails, every bite and sip promises to be an adventure in itself.

Convenient for guests staying at Hotel Molokai, Hiro’s Ohana Grill makes sure that no one leaves without experiencing the best of island culinary delights set against breathtaking coastlines.

Tips for Visiting Molokai

Pack light but smart for Molokai – the island’s laid-back vibe means you won’t need much, but don’t forget your adventurous spirit! Ready to explore more?

Native Hawaiian Plants on Molokai

Molokai is like a giant, living museum for plants. With 90% of its native greenery found nowhere else on Earth, this island is special. Walk the trails and you’ll see things you won’t find in your backyard, or anywhere else for that matter.

Plants here range from towering trees to tiny flowers peeping out of cracks in the rock.

Treading lightly is key. These plants are survivors, but they’re also delicate. Every step counts when you’re walking among species that have been around since long before our time.

It’s like walking through history, alive and green under your feet.

So grab your hiking boots and a sense of wonder; Molokai’s plant life waits to tell its ancient stories—stories of resilience, survival, and astounding biodiversity that keeps scientists coming back for more.

Best Hotels & Vacation Rentals to Stay on Molokai

hotel molokai

Finding the perfect place to stay on Molokai is like hitting the jackpot. You get a cozy spot in paradise! Here’s a list of top places where you can hang your hat and rest your feet after a day full of adventures.

  1. Hotel Molokai – Picture yourself sipping a cool drink, lounging by the poolside, with views that stretch out to the sea. This hotel offers that and more. It’s got that genuine Hawaiian vibe, hammocks included!
  2. Wavecrest Resort – East of Molokai gifts you tranquil mornings with breathtaking sunrises. Wavecrest Resort rooms come with kitchens and lanais overlooking the ocean or beautiful gardens, making it hard to leave.
  3. Molokai Shores – Want to feel at home while surrounded by beauty? Molokai Shores boasts vacation rentals equipped with everything you need for comfort, plus a beachfront location for those sunset strolls.
  4. Ka Hale Kealoha – A guesthouse that opens doors to stunning views and lush surroundings. It’s your own private escape on Molokai’s south shore, where relaxation meets nature.
  5. Paniolo Hale – Nestled near Kepuhi Beach, these condos offer an oasis with a touch of luxury. The outdoor terraces are perfect for BBQ evenings or just gazing at stars.
  6. Dunbar Beachfront Cottages – Imagine waking up to waves kissing the shore outside your window. These cottages provide an intimate setting for beach lovers wanting peace and quiet.
  7. Pu’u O Hoku Ranch – For a different kind of stay, this ranch offers rustic yet charming accommodations amid rolling hills and starlit skies, promising an unforgettable experience.
  8. Molokaʻi Vacation Rentals – Dive into local living with homes offered by Molokaʻi Vacation Rentals. They have spots all over the island, giving you freedom to explore at your own pace.

Choosing where to stay is key in making your time on Molokai magical. Whether you prefer the amenities of a resort or the intimacy of a cottage by the sea, this list got you covered!

Safety Tips

Always keep an eye on your belongings, especially at tourist spots. Molokai is safe, but just like any travel destination, it’s wise to stay alert. Lock up your valuables and don’t leave them unattended on the beach or in your car.

Stick to marked trails and respect local signage when exploring Molokai’s great outdoors. The island has its share of cliffs and rough terrain. Wearing proper shoes can save you from a twisted ankle or worse.

Also, bring plenty of water and some sunscreen; the Hawaiian sun doesn’t play around!

Things to Do on Molokai Wrap-Up

As we wrap up our exploration of the top things to do on Molokai, it’s clear that this island isn’t just another destination; it’s a rich tapestry of culture, adventure, and natural beauty.

From the profound historical insights of Kalaupapa National Historical Park to the exhilarating experiences like the Halawa Valley Cultural Hike, Molokai offers a unique blend of activities that can only be found on this serene island.

Whether you choose to explore the lush landscapes via a scenic helicopter tour or prefer the tranquility of Molokai’s beaches, each experience adds a memorable chapter to your travel story.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing on Molokai? Is it the adventure, the history, or simply the chance to relax at one of the best beaches on the island?

Ultimately, Molokai is a great place to unwind and immerse in a lifestyle that moves at its own pace.

Remember, whether you’re looking to indulge in the taste of Molokai at local eateries like Molokai Burger or seeking to learn about the rich history at places like the Molokai Museum, your time on Molokai will surely be unforgettable.

So, pack your bags, and let Molokai enchant you with its untouched beauty and warm aloha spirit.

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FAQs for Things to Do on Molokai

1. Can I ride a mule on Molokai?

Absolutely! Riding a mule down the switchback trail to Kalaupapa National Historic Park is like stepping back in time. It’s not just a ride; it’s an adventure where you’ll see breathtaking views and learn about Hawaii’s history.

2. What makes Molokai special compared to other Hawaiian islands?

Molokai is like the shy kid at the party – less crowded, with untouched beauty and deep Hawaiian traditions. Here, you won’t find towering hotels but rather towering sea cliffs, making it one of the best places for those seeking peace and genuine culture.

3. Are there any cool spots to check out marine life?

You bet! Grab your snorkel or dive gear and head to Molokai’s barrier reef. You might get lucky and spot humpback whales from the deck of a boat or swim alongside colorful fish near the island’s east end.

4. What land activities can I do on Molokai?

From exploring lush Halawa Valley to visiting macadamia nut farms, there’s no shortage of land activities here. Don’t miss hiking through ancient fishponds or taking that memorable photo atop some of the highest sea cliffs anywhere in the world.

5. Where can I learn about Molokai’s history?

Take a step back in time at Kalaupapa National Historic Park or visit the Molokai Museum for stories that shaped this island. Learning about Father Damien and Hansen’s disease adds layers to your trip that go beyond just sightseeing.

6. Is it easy to find good food on Molokai?

Finding good grub is as easy as pie—or should we say, loaves of bread from Kanemitsu Bakery? From sit-down restaurants serving up local dishes to grabbing an ice cream at Kamoi Snack-n-Go, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.