Bumper stickers sum up Molokai's unique appeal. // © 2014 HTA/Dana Edmunds
Featured image (above): Kalaupapa features dramatic sea cliffs and historic sites. // © 2014 HTA/Dana Edmunds
From coffee and mac nut farms to mule rides and historic towns, Molokai attractions reflect the timeless spirit of the island itself.
Riding at anchor between busy Oahu and Maui, this quiet isle has yet to see a traffic light, freeway or rush hour.
It’s a destination drifting in decades-gone-by. Modern-day visitors can immerse themselves in old Hawaii as they explore its reaches.
Since Molokai is fairly small, it’s easy to drive around the island and explore its riches. Kick back, take a break from the fast lane and check out the following Molokai highlights.
Coffees of Hawaii
This 500-acre coffee plantation no longer offers guided tours, but it does have a small self-guided tour with storyboards describing the history of Molokai’s perky brew. Its gift shop sells island crafts and souvenirs. Grab a latte from the espresso bar and munch on freshly-made sandwiches on the deck. Show up on Tuesday or Thursday during lunch hour and enjoy live tunes by local musicians.
Kalaupapa National Historic Park
A national treasure, Kalaupapa is bordered by towering sea cliffs on one side and crashing surf on the other. A guided tour is the only way to see the village. Learn about the tragic history of the remote peninsula where sufferers of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) were banished from the 1860s and onward. To get there, either fly in or traverse a steep three-mile 26-switchback trail on foot or by mule.
Perched near the top of Molokai’s highest peak, this 2,774-acre east Molokai gem houses hundreds of rare Hawaiian plants, many of which are found nowhere else. It’s also rich in native birds whose songs ring through the rainforest. The Nature Conservancy leads monthly hikes that follow a boardwalk through a magical setting of ferns and flowers. The culmination: a jaw-dropping view of Pelekunu Valley.
A town isn't always considered an attraction, but that's not the case in Molokai's main hub of commerce. Lining three blocks are 1940s-style storefronts with down-home retailers like a general store and a book store. Eateries serve friendly fare including pizza, plate lunch and baked goods. The Saturday morning outdoor market is a great place to chat with the locals and pick up made-on-Molokai memorabilia.
Purdy's Natural Macadamia Nut Farm
Mac nuts are one of Hawaii’s most famous agricultural products. Where do they come from? Since 1980, Tuddie and Kammy Purdy have been answering those questions as they walk visitors around their five-acre homestead in the central highlands. They even encourage folks to crack some shells and taste the raw meat. This quintessential Molokai attraction is well worth a stop, and it’s free.