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Sheltered within 32 miles of fringed reef on the southern shore and three miles of white sand on the western shore, Moloka'i retains much of the flavor of "Old Hawai'i." Ancient fishponds, the world's largest sea cliffs, and a 250-foot jungle waterfall seem nearly untouched by time. Hiking, mule riding, kayaking, and extraordinary snorkeling open a window into the rich beauty and pristine environment of this small island, so close to neighboring Maui and O'ahu and yet far enough away to preserve tradition....and tranquility. 

For a certain traveler, Moloka'i isn't just another Hawaiian island; it's the only island. People who enjoy Moloka'i aren't looking for a commercial luau, fancy shops, big resorts, and the company of tourists. They go there for another reason altogether - serenity, empty beaches, and wild outdoor beauty. They go to hike, kayak, bike, and ride horses. Moloka'i is a perfect destination for families looking to reconnect without the distracting hustle and bustle. For couples, the quiet charms of Moloka'i allow the focus to stay on each other.

People also come to experience Hawaiian culture at ancient sites, like the enormous temple platform called 'Ili'ili'opae Heiau and in the rock-wall fishponds that line the island's South Shore. They are celebrated in down-home community festivals for Aloha Week, the winter Makahiki season, and the annual Ka Hula Piko Festival commemorating Moloka'i as the birthplace of hula.

For a small island, 38 miles long and 10 miles wide, Moloka'i contains amazing natural wonders. Along the North Coast, the world's tallest sea cliffs plunge over 3,000 feet to the crashing surf below. In the summer months, experience this sight by sea on a charter boat. The South Shore is sheltered by the largest reef system in Hawai'i. Kamakou Preserve is a mountain forest that's home to endangered native plants and rare birds.

Though Moloka'i isn't sophisticated, it offers a wide range of places to stay. These include small-scale hotels, seaside condominiums, bed and breakfast cottages, and secluded home rentals. With less than a dozen restaurants from which to choose, there's still a good variety, from local fare to fine cuisine, served Moloka'i-style.

KAUNAKAKAI: Moloka'i's "capital" town sits in the center of the island. Its long wharf forms the island's main harbor where you'll find charter boats for fishing, snorkeling, whale watching, and touring the cliffs and canyons of the "backside." The town's commerical strip is one block of a quaint paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of the 1930s. It is so unassuming that first-time visitors keep driving around the block looking for the real stores. Yet Kaunakakai has everything you'll need, including groceries, hardware, a pharmacy, a gourmet wine and spirits shop, an art gallery, a gift shop, and the Kanemitsu Bakery, whose bread is world-famous. The road uphill from here passes farms and eventually the dark green orchards of Coffees of Hawai'i, which welcomes visitors with a tour, a gift shop, and a snack bar. You can also visit the Moloka'i Museum's R.W. Meyer Sugar Mill, an 1878 structure restored to operating condition. Nearby, Purdy's Natural Macadamia Nuts farm offers tours of its 80-year old orchard. The road ends at Pala'au State Park and a cliff-top lookout with heart-pounding views of Molokai's North Coast.

EAST MOLOKA'I: Driving east from Kaunakakai along the coast, follow the twisting, tree-shaded curves around small beaches and coves. Maui and Lana'i are visible across the channels. This is one of the more scenic drives in all Hawai'i, so you'll want to stop every now and then to experience the beauty of nature. As you wind around the eastern point, the road passes through the slopes of Pu'u O Hoku Ranch, a great place for horseback riding and retreats. The road ends with a dramatic flare, dropping into Halawa Valley and depositing you on the beach. Halawa is a classic Hawaiian "cathedral valley;" steep-walled, lush with jungle and the 250-foot Mo'oula Falls at its head.

WEST END: Western Moloka'i boasts some of the largest and least visited beaches in the state. Papohaku Beach is the most popular with its three miles of white sand and a grassy park for picnicking and camping. With many condominiums, the West End is the nearest Moloka'i gets to a resort area. Set in the hills above the coast is the hamlet called Maunaloa. While here, stop in at the Big Wind Kite Factory for a bit of fun and whimsy.

KALAUPAPA NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK: It was to Kalaupapa that the celebrated Belgian priest and now saint, Father Damien, came more than a century ago. The Kalaupapa settlement provides visitors with one of Hawai's many unique experiences. To get the full impact, join the Moloka'i Mule Ride for an exciting journey down the 26-switchback trail cut into the cliffs that isolate Kalaupapa from the rest of Moloka'i. It's a breathtaking 90-minute descent of 1,700 feet followed by a picnic lunch and a tour of the settlement and its magnificently scenic peninsula. 

While the rest of Hawai'i grew up, the Island of Moloka'i strengthened its connection to history and native culture. In other words, its appetite for modern conveniences has remained modest. Roads are few, two-lane, and generally empty. Moloka'i is a country town that continues to practice tradition, remaining uncrowded and undeveloped. Its small and friendly population (less than 8,500 people) has the option to live by growing small gardens and catching fish. If this appeals to you, call us to plan a visit to the enchanting island of Moloka'i.

For more information or reservations for
 Moloka'i, the "Hawaiian by Nature" Island,
contact a Lighthouse Travel
Certified Moloka'i Master Specialist.

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