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The Holoholo Guide to Moloka‘i

It’s one of the least developed Hawaiian islands, but Moloka‘i is also packed with adventure and beauty.


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Hālawa Valley

Beginning with traditional Hawaiian protocol, the Solatorio family will guide you into Hālawa Valley—a lush and storied place. During the four-hour hike, you’ll pass through taro patches, streams and archeological sites to finally reach a marvelous swimming hole guarded by a mo‘o (lizard god). Look for petroglyphs on the boulders. (808) 542-1855, halawavalleymolokai.com. If you don’t want to hike, park at the end of the road and gaze into the valley from the rocky beach. 


The Nature Conservancy leads monthly hikes into two preserves special enough to warrant planning your trip around. Kamakou encompasses 2,774 acres near the top of Moloka‘i’s highest peak. The mist-shrouded forest and bog are home to hundreds of native plant species, colorful tree snails and the extremely rare oloma‘o (Moloka‘i thrush). A hike along a boardwalk culminates in an astonishing peek into Pelekunu Valley.


The last intact Hawaiian sand dune system survives at Mo‘omomi—and it is magnificent. Silver rosettes of ‘ena‘ena carpet the dunes, where ‘ua‘u kani (wedge-tailed shearwater) chicks hide in underground burrows. Subfossils found here reveal the secrets of ancient times. Hikes are free but reservations are necessary. (808) 553-5236, nature.orghike_molokai@tnc.org


Ocean Adventure

Paddling a kayak or stand-up board over the mosaic of Moloka‘i’s fringing coral reef is a thrilling experience. Moloka‘i Outdoors offers “downwinder” tours for all skill levels. You’ll paddle with the wind at your back 4 to 8 miles down the coast, where a shuttle retrieves you. (877) 553-4477, molokai-outdoors.com



Nothing beats a Moloka‘i kanikapila. Every Friday afternoon, the Hotel Moloka‘i dining room fills with kūpuna carrying ‘ukulele and wearing their finest lei. One by one they begin strumming old Hawaiian songs until everyone is singing along. The festivities are even finer at Coffees of Hawai‘i on Tuesdays, when clarinet players and drummers join in even when the shop is temporarily closed. 

Tuesday, 10 a.m. to noon at Coffees of Hawai‘i, Friday, 4 to 6 p.m. at Hotel Moloka‘i  


Mark your calendar for various festivals throughout the year that are worth attending:

Ka Hula Piko, Moloka‘i Ranch Rodeo, Makahiki, and the Christmas Light Parade. Check visitmolokai.com for details.


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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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