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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It’s always a good time for a fresh-fish sandwich.
Photos: David Croxford
Stock up for your stay at Kaunakakai’s two grocery stores: Friendly Market Center (90 Ala Mālama Ave., Kaunakakai, (808) 553-5595) and Misaki’s (78 Ala Mālama Ave., Kaunakakai, (808) 553-5505). If it’s Sunday, you’ll be limited to Moloka‘i Minimart (35 Mohala St., (808) 553-4447), which stocks a surprising number of gourmet and organic items. Locals may call tiny C Pascua Store (109 Ala Mālama Ave., Kaunakakai (808) 553-5443) “the junk food store,” but you can find ripe mangoes and Island-raised prawns here. For the widest selection of local produce, hit Kaunakakai’s Saturday morning farmers market or head to Kumu Farms (Hua Ai Road, (808) 351-3326), where you can feast on ripe (and relatively inexpensive) papayas, apple bananas, organic vegetables, and numerous jams and cheeses.
Get hamburger steak or baby back ribs with guava sauce at this charming, home-style diner. BYOB is easy with the market across the street. Cash only.
102 Farrington Ave., Kualapu‘u, (808) 567-9655
This oceanfront restaurant and bar serves straightforward American cuisine with a few local twists: smoked meat in the Maunaloa omelet for breakfast, a taro and breadfruit burger for lunch, and stuffed pork chops for dinner. Don’t miss the Friday night ‘ukulele jam session.
1300 Kamehameha V Highway, Kaunakakai, (808) 660-3400
Manae Goodz & Grindz
The smiling staff at this takeout window serves the only hot food for miles in either direction. The plate lunches, sandwiches, and breakfast burritos are solid. Hit the icebox inside for ice creams and snacks on your way back from exploring Hālawa Valley.
8615 Kamehameha V Highway (450) near mile marker 16, (808) 558-8498
This small deli serves simple sandwiches, salads and soups—including vegetarian options.
145 Puali Place, Kaunakakai, (808) 553-3713, sundowndeli.com
Coffees of Hawai‘i
Get your caffeine fix in the gift shop here, by the cup or the bag. The popular café is temporarily closed, but that hasn’t put a damper on the Tuesday morning jam sessions. Local kūpuna and visiting musicians gather once a week at 10 a.m. to sing their favorite ballads on the large lānai. It’s truly island’s best entertainment. The crowd spills into the parking lot!
1630 Farrington Ave., Kualapu‘u, (808) 567-9490, coffeesofhawaii.com
Only on Moloka‘i
The Ho‘olehua Post Office gained fame after its infinitely patient postmaster Gary Lam began helping customers decorate and mail coconuts. Why not send a little aloha of your own? Nuts are free; postage to the Mainland runs around $12.
69-2 Pu‘upe‘elua Ave., Ho‘olehua. (808) 567-6144
Kioea bristle-thighed curlew
This migratory shorebird has a long, curved bill and prefers Moloka‘i to all the other Hawaiian Islands. The official mascot of Kaunakakai can be found roosting in the monkeypod outside Moloka‘i Elementary School or by second base at the nearby ball field.
Midnight bread run
Why are people disappearing into the alley behind Kanemitsu Bakery between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.? They’re scooping up oven-fresh loaves of bread stuffed with jam, cinnamon and sugar, or cream cheese. Cash only; closed Monday nights.
79 Ala Mālama Ave., Kaunakakai, (808) 553-5855
When was the last time you saw a fresh ‘ilima flower lei? Auntie Toochie Kalipi famously strings hundreds of delicate yellow-orange blossoms into the lei once reserved for royalty. Catch a glimpse of her creations at the twice-weekly kanikapila sessions.