10 Best Sights in Central Molokai, Molokai

Palaau State Park

Fodor's choice

One of the Island's few formal recreation areas, this 233-acre retreat sits at a 1,000-foot elevation. A short path through an ironwood forest leads to Kalaupapa Lookout, a magnificent overlook with views of the town of Kalaupapa and the 1,664-foot-high sea cliffs protecting it. Informative plaques have facts about leprosy, Saint Damien, and the colony. The park is also the site of Kaule O Nanahoa (Phallus of Nanahoa), where women in old Hawaii would come to the rock to enhance their fertility; it is said some still do. Because the rock is a sacred site, be respectful and don't deface the boulders. The park is well maintained, with trails, camping facilities, restrooms, and picnic tables.

R. W. Meyer Sugar Mill and Molokai Museum

Fodor's choice

Built in 1877, the fully restored, three-room sugar mill has been reconstructed as a testament to Molokai's agricultural history. It is located next to the Molokai Museum and is usually included in the museum tour. Several interesting machines from the past are on display, including a mule-driven cane crusher and a steam engine. The museum contains changing exhibits on the Island's early history and has a gift shop. Currently (and for the foreseeable future) the museum is home to an incredible photography exhibit that showcases the people of and life in Kalaupapa; attending the exhibit and speaking with docents is a great way to learn more about the community if you aren't able to visit. Be sure to step into the gift shop for some unique, locally made items.

Church Row

Standing together along the highway are seven houses of worship with primarily native-Hawaiian congregations. Notice the unadorned, boxlike architecture so similar to missionary homes.

Rte. 460, Kaunakakai, HI, 96748, USA

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Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove

From far away this spot looks like a sea of coconut trees. Closer up you can see that the tall stately palms are planted in long rows leading down to the sea. This is a remnant of one of the last surviving royal groves planted for Prince Lot, who ruled Hawaii as King Kamehameha V from 1863 until his death in 1872. The grove is planted on private property---visitors should observe from outside of the perimeter fence.

Kaunakakai

Central Molokai's main town looks like a classic 1940s movie set. Along the short main drag is a cultural grab bag of restaurants and shops, and many people are friendly and willing to supply directions or just "talk story." Preferred dress is shorts and a tank top, and no one wears anything fancier than a cotton skirt or aloha shirt.

Kaunakakai Harbor

Once bustling with barges exporting pineapples, these docks now host visiting boats and the regular barge from Oahu. The wharf, the longest in the state, is also the starting point for fishing, sailing, snorkeling, whale-watching, and scuba-diving excursions. It's a nice place at sunset to watch fish rippling the water. To get here, take Kaunakakai Place, which dead-ends at the wharf.

Molokai Plumerias

The sweet smell of plumeria surrounds you at this 10-acre orchard containing thousands of these fragrant trees. Purchase a lei to go, or for $25 owner Dick Wheeler will give you a basket, set you free to pick your own blossoms, then teach you how to string your own lei. Whether purchasing a lei or making your own, it's best to call first for an appointment or to order your lei in advance.

One Alii Beach Park

Clear, close views of Maui and Lanai across the Pailolo Channel dominate One Alii Beach Park (One is pronounced "o-nay," not "won"), the only well-maintained beach park on the Island's south-central shore. Molokai folks gather here for family reunions and community celebrations; the park's tightly trimmed expanse of lawn could almost accommodate the entire Island's population. Swimming within the reef is perfectly safe, but don't expect to catch any waves. Nearby is the restored One Alii fishpond (it is appropriate only for Native Hawaiians to fish here). Amenities: playground, showers; toilets. Best for: parties; swimming.

Rte. 450, Kaunakakai, HI, 96748, USA

Post-A-Nut at Hoolehua Post Office

At this small, rural post office you can mail a coconut anywhere in the world. Postmaster Gary Lam provides the coconuts and colored markers. You decorate and address your coconut, and Gary affixes eye-catching stamps on it from his extensive collection. Costs vary according to destination, but for domestic addresses they start around $10.

Purdy's Macadamia Nut Farm

Molokai's only working macadamia nut farm is open for educational tours hosted by the knowledgeable and entertaining owners. A family business in Hoolehua, the farm takes up 1½ acres with a flourishing grove of 50 original trees that are more than 90 years old, as well as several hundred younger trees. The nuts taste delicious right out of the shell, home roasted, or dipped in macadamia-blossom honey. Look for Purdy's sign behind Molokai High School.