Pristine sites such as the Halawa Valley are part of what makes Molokai so unique. // © 2011 HTA/RonDahlquist
Since the 2008 shuttering of Molokai Ranch and its accommodations — including a cozy upcountry inn and upscale beachfront campground — the island of Molokai has battled the perception that it’s void of overnight options. Certainly, inventory is less than it was. But the island that calls itself “Hawaiian by Nature” is definitely open for business, welcoming guests at its one hotel and five condominium properties.
For clients who prefer a full-service hotel, Hotel Molokai is the only game in town. For travelers who have other needs, Molokai Vacation Properties (MVP) offers the island’s largest collection of condos.
Views of Maui sunrises and Molokai sunsets are just two of the benefits when staying near Kaunakakai, the largest town on Molokai. But don’t let the word largest fool you. Since Molokai is home to only 7,000 residents, Kaunakakai is a far cry from crowded — especially since it’s free of stoplights. Everyone and everything tends to go with the flow. The town is also a great springboard to both the east and west ends of the island.
Styled after a Polynesian village with 53 freshly renovated, bungalow-style guestrooms, Hotel Molokai serves as a social hub for the island. Its Hula Shores Restaurant and Bar hosts a happy hour from 2-5 p.m., daily except on Fridays, right on the edge of Kamiloloa Beach. On Friday afternoons, things really pick up with Na Kupuna (esteemed elders) Kanikapila (jam session). Festivities include an age-old island torch-lighting ceremony, artisans showcasing their wares and music later in the evening.
The resort features a freshwater pool, hammocks, a rental car kiosk, concierge service for booking tours, a souvenir shop, an Internet kiosk, a new spa center and a manager’s welcome cocktail reception from 4-5 p.m. on Mondays. Open oceanfront bungalows — positioned from east to west in order to catch the prevailing tradewinds — feature Polynesian decor, private lanais, microwaves, mini-refrigerators, coffeemakers, complimentary Internet access and cable televisions.
“Although we finished a major renovation in January 2008, we continue to make upgrades to our landmark Molokai property,” said general manager Michael Drew.
As the only condo near Kaunakakai, Molokai Shores — one of the options offered by MVP — provides a swimming pool surrounded by a manicured lawn, a putting green, a shuffleboard, laundry facilities, a barber/beauty shop and a barbecue area. Each oceanview unit has a full kitchen, a covered lanai, a television and a ceiling fan. This is a great place to launch a kayak and explore the island’s barrier reef.
“Our condo guests say they enjoy bonding and meeting people,” said Dayna Harris of MVP, which pays 10 percent commission. “In a complex, you get to know travelers from other parts of the world. Some of our clients actually become friends and meet up here annually.”
Thirteen miles east of Kaunakakai on the island’s quieter east side, Wavecrest Resort sits on five oceanfront acres with lush tropical landscaping. The condo’s amenities include two tennis courts, a swimming pool and a cabana with gas barbecues under a poolside covered deck. Each unit includes a television, a ceiling fan, a full kitchen and a private lanai.
The islands of Maui, Kahoolawe and Lanai form a backdrop to the view across the Pailolo and Kalohi channels. From December through April, humpback whales are often sighted just beyond the reef. Nearby Murphy’s Beach is a favorite for snorkeling and swimming.
Known for its beaches, the west end of Molokai is home to a trio of MVP-managed vacation condominiums in Kaluakoi Resort, all providing access to Papohaku Beach, Hawaii’s longest white-sand beach.
Each unit at Ke Nani Kai features a full kitchen, private lanai, Internet access, a washer/dryer and a ceiling fan. For recreation, guests can enjoy two tennis courts, a swimming pool, a heated whirlpool, a ping-pong table and a covered barbecue area.
At the Kepuhi Beach condo, spacious studios and one-bedroom units are decked out with a fully equipped kitchenette and covered lanai with vistas opening to the Kaiwi Channel.
Then there’s Paniolo Hale, built around gardens and offering a freshwater pool, tennis court and barbecue grills. Rooms feature a kitchen, private lanai, Internet access, a washer/dryer and ceiling fans — all the comforts of home in a mellow Molokai setting.