The island of Molokai is full of hidden treasures, quaint shops, restaurants and impactful glimpses of Hawaii’s fascinating past. For families opting for a Hawaiian vacation without the crowds and congestion, this island is the place to be and there is no better way to explore Molokai than to venture out on the open road and discover the beauty for yourself.
Before you take off on your route across the island, gear up with a treat from Kamoi Snack-N-Go, where there are over 30 unique flavors of Hawaii-made ice cream. You can also head over to the famous Kanemitsu’s Bakery. Here you can grab some of the beloved Molokai hot bread, as well as other pastries, cookies and baked goods. If you are hoping for something more substantial, there are also breakfast and lunch items such as fried rice plates and servings of fresh fruit.
Kiowea Beach Park: A bit west of Kaunakakai , drivers can stop along the road at the Kiowea Beach Park to check out the thriving fish ponds. The best time to pause here is around sunrise when the sky is streaked with glorious colors over the horizon. If fishponds are particularly interesting to you and your party, then you won’t want to miss the Ali’i Fishponds just east of Kaunakakai, where the ancient Hawaiians established over 60 fishponds in their aquaculture expansion over 800 years ago.
Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove: Just down the road from the Kiowea Beach Park is an impressive forest of coconut palms numbering over 1,000. These were originally planted by King Kamehameha V in the mid 1860’s and now extend over 10 beautiful acres of coastland. Be sure to heed the signs warning of falling coconuts, since this can be a very dangerous (often fatal) threat to unwitting visitors. Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove is also an interesting place to stop on a road trip because just across the street from the grove is a place called Church Row. Though Molokai may not be the most touristy island with an abundance of diverse activities, the same cannot be said about the religious presence on the island. Church Row is a long line of seven churches, each representing a different denomination. Molokai, as a whole, beautifully reflects many historical insights into Hawaii’s past and the variety of churches bear witness to the amount of missionaries that once traveled to this remote paradise.
Kumimi Beach: This idyllic shoreline is as long as it is picturesque. Protected by a dense reef, these calm lagoons are perfect for swimmers and snorkelers of any age. Pack your picnic and plan to stop at Kumimi Beach (also known as Murphy’s Beach) for some peaceful splashing in the shallows.
Pala’au State Park: One of the features that has put Molokai on the map, are the highest sea cliffs in the Pacific. At Pala’au State Park there is a verdant forest of pine and spruce trees and trails that lead to breathtaking views of the cliffs, the historic Kalaupapa peninsula and the ocean. This is a definite must-do for guests taking a road trip around Molokai.
Coffees of Hawaii : If you find yourself driving along the road to Kualapu’u, make sure to stop by the Coffees of Hawaii plantation to sample the delicious espresso. If you have some time, you could also take a mule-back tour of the coffee farm for a fun family outing to break up the trip. Nearby in Ho’olehua, there is the beloved macadamia nut farm called Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nuts, where kids and adults can try their hand at cracking some of the fresh and flavorful nuts.
Kualapu’u Cookhouse: One great place to stop for some of the most scrumptious food on the island is the Kualapu’u Cookhouse. Here the portions are huge, great for sharing or devouring all by yourself. From classic plate lunches to fresh ahi tuna and local egg omelets, you will be happy you made time to dine here.
Big Wing Kite Factory: If the road leads you toward the town of Maunaloa, you will find the Big Wing Kite Factory. Hop out of the car and enjoy the western side of Molokai and the stunning views near the factory. The owner offers free kite-flying lessons with his beautifully hand-crafted kites. The store also offers Hawaii-made and internationally imported goods, jewelry and crafts that make great souvenirs to bring home from your trip.
Halawa Valley: Any road trip in Molokai ought to include a visit to Halawa Valley, located on the northeastern side of the island. Visitors should venture here for sights of towering waterfalls, deep rain forests and some of the wildest beauty the Hawaiian Islands have to offer. If you start from Kaunakakai, the drive is roughly 26 miles and only about an hour-long journey next to some of the loveliest vistas of the southern and eastern ends of Molokai.