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—seek permission or use an authorized guide.

Best Spots

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 must have made prior arrangements with Damien Tours in order to access Kalaupapa via this trail. Off Hwy. 470, Kualapuu, Hawaii, 96757. 808/567–6171.

Going with a Guide

Halawa Valley Falls Cultural 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. The Solatorio Ohana (family) is 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, a ho'okupu (small gift or offering), insect repellent, and wear sturdy shoes that can get wet. The 3½-mile round-trip hike is rated intermediate to advanced and includes two moderate river crossings. Hawaii. 808/542–1855; www.halawavalleymolokai.com. $60.