Molokai, Hawaii – A Day Trip to An Untouched Hawaiian island


My day trip to Molokai Island was one of my favorite trips during my time in Hawaii.

Molokai Island is the fifth largest island of Hawaii. Unlike Oahu and Maui, Molokai Island has been left untamed by outside influences, and it is where native Hawaiians have lived for generations. It has Hawaii’s longest white sand beaches and the world’s tallest cliffs. Molokai has an interesting history, the largest native Hawaiian population, and an abundance of impressive vistas. Traveling through the island to see the verdant cliffs and the blue ocean made me forget about everything happening in bustling Honolulu.

I took an early morning flight to Molokai from Honolulu. I was amazed by the view from the airplane when the flight touched down to Molokai – no tall buildings, commercial establishments, but lush green mountains and turquoise blue water extending for miles.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

Unspoiled nature

Although I only had a day to spend on Molokai, I did not make any plans for this trip.  I picked up my rental car at the airport and randomly picked Kalae Highway to start my trip. I drove for a while, mostly enjoying the view of the ocean and the lush green on both sides, and was happy to be the only person on the road. There were no fancy restaurants, so I stopped at the Coffees of Hawaii for vanilla-flavored coffee. The service was not so Aloha but it had an outdoor seating area that allowed me to embrace the untamed beauty and the peaceful environment of the island. If you go on a Thursday morning, you have the opportunity to watch the ukulele group practicing.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

View from Kalae Highway, Molokai, Hawaii

Barren West

The west side of the Molokai Island is almost empty and the dry plants are the only thing I have seen on both sides of the road. There are no oncoming traffic, and no people. This barren landscape makes you feel that you are the only one on a deserted planet. At the end of the west side comes Hawaii’s longest white sand beach, Papohaku. I had seen the picture of Papohaku Beach, and it was impressive to see it in person.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

Papohaku Beach Park, Molokai, HI

Molokai Island, Hawaii

Papohaku beach, Molokai, HI

This beach is three miles long with turquoise blue water and the powdery white sand. There was no other person on the beach when I arrived. I walk the long stretch of the shore and embraced the feeling of solitude. When I felt like sitting and lying down, I just did and got myself soaked in the sun. The view of the beach was absolutely gorgeous and it was so addictive to watch the waves roll in and listen to them crash the shore.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

Papohaku Beach Park parking lot. My red car was the only car there.

Lunch at Molokai Burger

I went to Molokai Burger, a popular place at the island for fast food with Molokai flavor. I had burgers and fries, which were delicious. I love the laidback vibe of the restaurant, and it was not crowded on the day I went. It has great seating areas, and, because I was there at 2pm when other guests had all left, one of the employees even sat down and spent half an hour chatting with me.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

Downtown Kaunakakai , Molokai, HI – Have you noticed how expensive the gas was?

Road trip to the East End

The road trip on the east side of Molokai Island (Kamehameha V Highway) gives you a glimpse of the island life and the green feelings. To the left of the road is Molokai’s highest mountain Mt. Kamakou rising to 4,970 feet and to the right the ocean and the longest fringing reef in the sea. The gorgeous seascapes and the neighbor island, Maui, is visible through the entirety of this road trip.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

Although the scenery looks spectacular, this road trip is not for the faint-hearted. The road, in most parts, was curvy and winding, and was very narrow only one car could pass in either direction. If there was another car coming, one of us had to find a place to pull over and wait for the other to go. I once even had to stop my car on the edge of the ocean.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

There are several outlooks for you to stop and glance at the gorgeous seascapes. If there is another person on the same lookout, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful conversation and some local folklore. The locals share their experience and stories with you, and they admire your adventurous spirit of coming to this less-explored island. I did stop a few times to look over to the other side of the ocean under the sunset. I did not rush to get to the end of the road or to other places. I just relaxed and enjoyed the view and my meet up with everyone on the road.

Finally, the time came to head over to the airport. The plane only eight seats, and there were only two passengers on the flight. We continued to share the Aloha spirit and the laidback vibe of Molokai by talking with our pilot all the way back to Honolulu.

Molokai Island, Hawaii

Overall, a trip to Molokai is perfect for an impromptu vacation and disconnecting from the daily routine. You do not have to pack anything, or plan anything, just bring your Aloha spirit and an open mind, and get ready for the adventure thrown your way.

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A day trip to Molokai, an untouched Hawaii island in the USA


Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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