Isn't Molokai the leper island?
It's been called that. Here's Why.
In the mid 1800s leprosy (today called Hansen's Disease) was brought to Hawaii by Chinese who came to labor in the sugar cane fields. Many Hawaiians were stricken with Ma'i Pake (the Chinese sickness). Since there was then no cure for the disease, strict isolation was the only means available to keep the disease from spreading.
In 1866 the first sufferers were abandoned on Kalaupapa, a small peninsula on the north side of Molokai. Surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean and with sea cliffs 2000 feet high on the fourth, Kalaupapa was a prison from which escape was impossible.
Father Damien, a Belgian priest, came to molokai in 1873 to minister to the needs of the dying. Through his ministry and labors, order was created where there had been only suffering and chaos. He succumbed to the disease in 1889.
Sulfone drugs developed in the early 1940s, put the disease in remission and the carriers were no longer contagious. Today less than 40 residents call Kalaupapa home. The peninsula is now a National Historic Site administered by the US Park Service.
Can I visit Kalaupapa?
While Kalaupapa is a National Historic Site, it is also the home of the few former patients who have chosen to remain there. So access, is by law, strictly regulated. Unless you are invited by one of the residents, you must take the tour offered by Damien Tours of Kalaupapa (about $60.00). The peninsula can be reached by air or by way of the trail that snakes down the sheer cliffs 1600 feet from upper Molokai. Visitors can hike in and out or ride one of the famous Molokai mules. Either way, Molokai Mule Ride or Molokai Fish and Dive can make the necessary arrangements. Visitors must be at least 16 years old.
What are the beaches like?
Deserted, pristine, long, short, wide, narrow, white, tan, gray, black. Take your pick. Papohaku on the west end is the longest white sand beach in the Hawaiian Islands. Stretching nearly three miles, it is the perfect place for beach combing, jogging or just catching a few rays. If you're looking for solitude by the ocean, this could be your answer. It is never crowded and many times you'll find you have the entire beach to yourself. Also on the west end, fronting Kaluakoi Resort, is Kepuhi beach. A favorite of visitors and locals alike for surfing, sunning, fishing and when the ocean is calm, swimming.
Molokai doesn't have the abundance of great swimming beaches that some of the other islands boast, but there are many beaches that offer safe, uncrowded swimming and snorkeling. Season and ocean conditions dictate which beaches will best suit your personal wishes. During the summer and fall the west end beaches, Kepuhi, Papohaku, Make Horse and Dixie Maru, are good choices. However, the winter ocean swells create monster waves that make dangerous albeit beautiful surf conditions.
The great thing about our beaches - there's always another choice.
If the surf is pounding on the west end, the southeast beaches are normally perfect for that refreshing dip or tropical fish viewing excursion. Try Murphy's Beach at mile marker 20 or Sandy Beach just beyond. Both are protected by Hawai'i's only barrier reef and offer safe swimming most of the year.
If you're troubled because there is someone else on Your beach, just drive down the road and pick another. Perhaps Kawili beach in the beautiful Halawa Valley. It is safe for swimming when the ocean is calm, but has strong rip currents when the surf is up. Either way it's always a quiet spot to relax and take in the beauty of Halawa.
Consult the Molokai Beaches page for more information.
Will I need a car?
Yes. Unless you plan to employee one of the few tour services, we recommend a rental car so you can visit as much of the island as possible.
Can I do Molokai in a day?
If your objective is to Do as many islands as possible in a short period of time, Molokai is probably not for you. Life's pace is slow here. We like it that way. Plan to spend 3 days to a month so you can truly unwind and enjoy your visit.
When is the best time to visit Molokai?
When can you get away? Actually, anytime is a great time to visit. The weather is usually good year round with temperatures averaging about 75°F and rarely going 6 or 7 degrees above or below.
In winter (Dec. thru Mar.), the nights may drop to the lower 60s and you're more likely to experience a rainy day. No Rain - No Rainbows! Spring, summer and fall are all very similar with warm days (up to 85°F) cooled by the trade winds and pleasant evenings in the mid to lower 70s.
Are the natives friendly?
Molokai isn't called "The Friendly Island" for nothing. The aloha spirit is alive and well here. It's a way of life. Many visitors are overwhelmed by this open, friendly, caring attitude. It's something you have to experience to believe or understand.
By the way, "Native" is a term looked upon with great disfavor by the residents of Hawaii. Say "Local" or "Kama'aina". You wouldn't want to offend would you?
How many people live on Molokai?
About 8,000 residents on Molokai. We are part of Maui county, which consists of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. Total county population is about 128,000. Kalaupapa is in a separate county, Kalawao County, population about 150.
Other population counts include
Hawaii County (The Big Island) - 149,000
Honolulu County (Oahu) - 876,000
Kauai County - 59,000
Is it expensive?
That's a short question. Too bad there isn't a short answer.
Anything not produced on Molokai (that means almost everything) is expensive by mainland U.S. standards. Most of the items in the stores have to be shipped from their point of manufacture to Honolulu, unloaded, reloaded on a barge and shipped to Molokai. This ups the retail price by 20 to 100%.
On the other hand, room rates are, in most cases, lower than like accommodations on the other islands. You can have a nice condo that sleeps 4 comfortably for around $125 a night. Less per night for stays of a week or more. Likewise, dining out is no more expensive than at other Hawai'i visitor destinations.
Can I still hike to Halawa Falls?
Yes you can. After being closed to the public for quite a while, the trails to Moa'ula Falls at the head of Halawa Valley are again being used. Guided hiking tours are now available with resident guides who offer real historical and cultural insight. Contact Molokai Fish & Dive to book your trip.
I was told there are lots of deer there. Where'd they come from?
According to the Hawaiian Gazette, Dec. 17, 1867 - "Deer. - Some fine, healthy deer arrived in good order last week per Loch-Na-Garr, consigneed to Dr. Hillebrand by Mr. Magniac, a member of the well-known house of Jardine, Mathison & Co., of Hong Kong. They are Speckled Indian deer, a variety well adapted to domestication on our islands. A gentleman residing on the upper Ganges, where these deer abound, offered to supply them for transportation here, when Dr. Hillebrand was in Calcutta, and at his suggestion that His Majesty was desirous to obtain them, this consignment was made to Hong Kong." "Three bucks and four hinds have arrived safely." "They have been delivered to the king and will be sent to Molokai."
They were and they flourished. Today there are deer on all parts of the island and it is not unusual to see them, especially in the early mornings or evenings.
I'll be visiting Maui soon. Can I ride the Ferry to Molokai?
You can. The 100 foot yacht Molokai Princess provides daily roundtrip service between Lahaina, Maui and Kaunakakai, Molokai. The trip between ports takes about 90 minutes through the Kalohi Channel and tickets run about $85.00 round trip. Children's prices are about half that.
Are there places I can camp?
Yes. There are 2 county beach parks which offer overnight tent camping. Papohaku Beach Park on the west end and One Ali'i Beach Park on the south side both have rest rooms and shower facilities. You'll need to acquire camping permits from the parks and recreation department which run $3.00 per night. It's a good idea to call in advance. 808.553.3204
There is also Pala'au State Park in Kalae for tent camping. It has restrooms, but no showers. Check the camping page for all the Molokai camping details.
I'm a golfer. Any courses on your island?
Yes! Ironwood Hills is a nine hole municipal course located in beautiful, cool Kalae. It's a fun course and the rates are dirt cheap. If you're looking for championship courses, you'll love Kaluakoi Golf Course. Designed by Ted Robinson, this spectacular 6564 yard course is rated by several golf magazines as one of the top 5 courses in Hawai'i. It is never crowded and seldom busy. Your tee time is basically, when you show up. The rates are very reasonable, especially if you are staying at the resort.
How do I get there?
While it can sometimes be a challenge to get here, it's worth it. You'll need to book a flight to Maui or Honolulu, where you'll catch your inter-island connecting flight into Molokai or catch the Maui-Molokai ferry from Lahaina.
Consult the transportation page for information on getting here and getting around our island.
You didn't answer my question. Now what?
You may find the answers in the Visitors Information Forum If the answer is not there, use the form on the Feedback page to send us your questions. We will do our best to email an accurate response. If we don't know the answer, we'll search the island for someone who does.
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