The List: Visiting Molokai, Hawaii
- Written By:Anjali Kumar
Molokai is the little island off the coast of Maui and Lanai affectionately called “the “Friendly Isle.” The lack of development alters between slightly maddening and deeply charming. When we went, there was only one running hotel on the island — the 50s throwback Hotel Molokai — and a giant sign off the main road inviting you to “Visit..Spend...Go Home.” There isn’t a ton to do, but that is kind of the point. As the locals say: Slow Down. This is Molokai.
The List: Molokai
Book a boat with Molokai Fish & Dive (book this the day before right at the gas station in Kaunakakai - not the Texaco, the other one). Depending on how adventurous you are feeling, the time of year and the direction of the wind, you can either whale watch, snorkel, or scuba dive with Captain Tim and his team on the gorgeous clear waters surrounding Molokai. (When Zia and I went, we caught the tail end of whale watching season and saw so many whales and giant sea turtles that we lost count! And on our way back to the dock, we were suddenly surrounded by tens of dolphins playing alongside our boat. Truly delightful.)
Go on a hike to Halawa Valley. Spectacular. Call Eddie Tanaka, a local musician and guide (if you can find him!) in advance for a tour (you need a guide to go).
Eat & Drink:
Get coffee from Coffees of Hawaii. Some mornings there is free live music (the Kanikapila Jam Session), and some of the locals might hula dance. So charming.
Captain Tim’s taco truck in Kaunakakai. It is right next to the Fish & Dive and gas station in town and makes a solid kimchee mahi mahi fish taco. Trust me.
Hotel Molokai for happy hour (the ahi tuna poke was pretty delicious, washed down with a Maui Bikini Blonde, perfection).
Get fresh bread and cookies from Kanemitsu’s Bakery during the day and MAKE SURE you go there in the evenings for hot bread (a fresh loaf of piping hot french bread slathered in cream cheese and cinnamon, or strawberries and blueberries if that is your preference). People line up every night after 7:30PM by the alley for it. One bite and you will understand why.
So many options but our favorites were Mile 20 beach, a long thin stretch of beautiful white sand (largely empty) beach, and Mile 23 beach, a tiny cove where we didn’t see another person.
- Breakfast and Hot Bread at Kanemitsu’s Bakery (“Did my mom mention HOT BREAD???”)
- Ice cream at Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream (“They have ube ice cream which is the coolest shade of purple.”)
- Making leis at the Molokai Plumerias (“This was so fun and it smelled gorgeous.”)
- Hikes through Halawa Valley with Eddie Tanaka (“Eddie is really nice and tells great stories.”)
- Cool t-shirts at Molokai Fish & Dive (“I liked the camo one with the bright yellow deer on it.”)