Hiking in Moloka‘i
- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Rural and rugged, Molokai is an excellent place for hiking. Roads and developments are few. The island is steep, so hikes often combine spectacular views with hearty physical exertion. Because the island is small, you can come away with the feeling of really knowing the place. And you won't see many other people around. Much of what may look like deserted land is private property, so be careful not to trespass without permission or an authorized guide.
Kalaupapa Trail. You can hike down to the Kalaupapa Peninsula and back via this 3-mile, 26-switchback route. The trail is often nearly vertical, traversing the face of the high sea cliffs. You can reach Kalaupapa Trail off Highway 470 near Kalaupapa Overlook. Only those in excellent condition should attempt it. You can also arrange a guided hike with Molokai Outdoors. Off Hwy. 470, Kualapuu, HI, 96757.
Kamakou Preserve. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is essential for this half-day journey into the Molokai highlands. The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii manages the 2,774-acre Kamakou Preserve, one of the last stands of Hawaii's native plants and birds. A long rough dirt road, which begins not far from Kaunakakai, leads to the preserve.
On your way up to the preserve, be sure to stop at Waikolu Overlook, which gazes into a precipitous canyon. Once inside the preserve, various trails are clearly marked. The trail of choice—and you can drive right to it—is the 1.5-mi boardwalk trail through Pepeopae Bog, an ecological treasure. Be aware that incoming fog can blot out your trail and obscure markers. This is the landscape of prediscovery Hawaii and can be a mean trek. The road to the Kamakou Preserve is not marked, so you must check in with the Nature Conservancy. Let the staff know that you plan to visit the preserve, and pick up the informative 24-page brochure with trail maps. Molokai Industrial Park, 23 Pueo Pl., 3 miles west of Kaunakakai, Kaunakakai, HI, 96748. www.nature.org.
Going with a Guide
Halawa Valley Cultural Waterfall Hike. This gorgeous, steep-walled valley was carved by two rivers and is rich in history. Site of the earliest Polynesian settlement on Molokai, Halawa is a sustained island culture with its ingeniously designed loi, or taro fields. Because of a tsunami in 1948 and changing cultural conditions in the 1960s, the valley was largely abandoned. Hawaiian families are restoring the loi and taking visitors on guided hikes through the valley, which includes two of Molokai's luakini heiau (sacred temples), many historic sites, and the trail to Moaula Falls, a 250-foot cascade. Bring water, food, and insect repellent, and wear sturdy shoes that can get wet. The 4.2 mile round-trip hike is rated intermediate to advanced and includes two moderate river crossings. HI. 808/553–5926. www.molokaifishanddive.com. $75.
Molokai Outdoors. This company can arrange guided hikes that fit your schedule and physical condition. The staff will take you down into Kalaupapa and arrange for a plane to pick you up. Kaunakakai Wharf, Kaunakakai Pl., Kaunakakai, HI, 96748. 808/553–4477 or 877/553–4477. www.molokai-outdoors.com.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe