Fun things to do in Molokai

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Molokai

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    Longest beach in Hawai'i

    by RickinDutch Written Jan 17, 2006

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    Papohaku Beach is the longest white sand beach in Hawai'i. What always amazes me is that many times I'm the only person on the entire 3 mile stretch.
    A great place for jogging or a quiet stroll. Swimming is usually safe in the summer, but strong winter swells create dangerous and dramatic surf conditions.
    Best time to visit the beach is early in the day before the trades pick up. I think it is the blowing sand that keeps the crowds away - that, plus it's Molokai!

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    Kalaupapa Lookout and Phallic Rock

    by RickinDutch Written Jan 30, 2006

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    At the end of the road north of Kaunaukakai, is the Kalaupapa Lookout and the Kaule o NanaHoe (phallic rock). The parking lot leads to both, just follow the signs. North of the parking lot is the short (100 yards) trail to the lookout. The view is fantastic, standing at the top of the highest seacliffs in Hawaii, looking down at the former leper's colony, Kalaupapa.

    A little longer hike, (1/2 mile) thru thick bamboo, is the phallic rock. It is said that women who touch it are much more likely to conceive.

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    Mule Ride to Kalaupapa

    by RickinDutch Updated Jan 30, 2006

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    An exciting ride not for the feint of heart! Starting at the top of the world's highest sea cliffs, seasoned guides lead you down a steep and at times very narrow trail to Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Kalaupapa is the site of the leper colony where Father Damian worked for many years. While there are no longer any active cases of leprosy in the Hawaiian Islands, there are still some residents in the colony that once had the desease. The community will remain open as long as these former patients wish to remain there. It is Kapu to take their pictures without permission.

    The story of this colony is a fascinating glimpse into man's inhumanity. Anyone in the islands suspected of being infected was rounded up and dropped off just offshore with the clothes on their back and nothing else. For years the colony was a lawless place. Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote a fascinating log of his trip here.

    Once your mule gets you to the bottom of the cliffs, you are met by a small bus that will take you around the former colony. Your guide will be a resident and former patient of the colony who has chosen to stay. This is an all day trip, so bring munchies and water along.

    A fascinating journey!

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    Drive to Halawa (East End)

    by RickinDutch Updated Mar 3, 2006

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    The 25 mile drive from Kaunakaki to the end of the road is very scenic and well worth it. The road can get pretty narrow and twisty in spots, but traffic is light and the slow speed limit take the pressure off. Kaunakaki is right on the dividing line between the wet and dry ends, so as you head east the land becomes more and more lush.

    Along the way are numerous ancient fish ponds that belonged to the kings and several temples back in among the trees. There is also a beautiful little church. There is only one small grocery store at about mile 18.

    Halawa has a great beach for walking where the river meets the sea. With the northern exposure the surf can get quite high and rough and I would not recommend swimming unless you are used to such conditions.

    The Halawa Valley has a hiking trail back thru some ancient sites and ends at a great waterfall. But much of the trail is over private property. We haven't been in a few years, so I'm not sure where the private property access issue is. It seems to be on again / off again. Check at the shack at the end of the road before you start walking. Might be worthwhile hiring a local guide to get the full flavor of this very important ancient site.

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    Golfing

    by RickinDutch Updated Jan 30, 2006

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    There are two golf courses on Molokai.
    Kaluakoi Resort on the west end has a stunning 18 hole designed by someone famous (Robinson?) that just reopened. Green fees run $70 for 18 holes or $35 for nine, including cart. Club rental is $15 and a pro is available on site. The front nine is level and along the water with great vistas. Back nine goes up the hill and back down with some rugged terrain along the way. Hole #3 is often mentioned as one of the toughest in Hawaii. Watch the trades.

    The other course is the little known 9 hole municipal course up in Kualapuu on Hwy 470, Ironwood Hills. My wife and I and three of our kids rented a cart, a bag of clubs and a 5 gallon bucket of balls for $20 and had a ball learning to play here. We finally had to call the game on the 5th hole due to lack of light. The rough is indeed the rough and it is best to forget about the ball if it leaves the fairway. If you're new to golf and want a great place to hack away - this is your spot.

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    Kalaupapa Mule Ride

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Mar 8, 2004

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    No roads lead to Kalaupapa. In fact, this remote pennisula is a County to itself, Kalawao," totally seperate from Maui County, of which the rest of Molokai is a part. There is a small airport, and twice a year a supply barge lands at the dock, but the more adventurous way to visit this remote outpost is to walk or take a mule down the Kalaupapa Trail.

    Not for the faint of heart, some parts of this trail were a bit frightening to me since I tend to have a fear of heights. These are the highest sea cliffs in the world. A half inch of wet rock and the sure-footedness of my dumb beast of burden were the only things between me and oblivion. I asked our guide if he had ever lost a mule and he replied, "Only one." Fortunately that mule was a "trainee," and not carrying a passenger at the time. Small comfort!

    Karen is an experienced horsewoman and not afraid of heights. She said she wasn't scared at all. Of the many things we saw and did in the islands, this is the memory we talk of most.

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    Kalaupapa Lookout

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Mar 11, 2004

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    This dramatic point in the Palaau State Park offers a spectacular view of the Kalaupapa Peninsula. A "leper" colony, this idyllic peninsula is seperated from the rest of the island by dramatic sea cliffs which soar half a mile above the Pacific.

    The term "leporsy" is no longer politically correct, having been replaced by the term "Hansen's Disease." This contagious malady swept through the Hawaiian islands in the mid-19th century and hundreds of victims were exiled to this remote spot. Hansens Disease can now be controlled by modern drugs, so few patients remain.

    Father Damien, a Catholic priest, came to Kalaupapa from Belgium in 1873. He literally gave his life in service to the patients, succumbing to the same disease 16 years later. Today Father Damien is highly revered as the unofficial patron saint of the islands.

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    Kalaupapa National Historic Park

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Mar 11, 2004

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    One of the more difficult National Park sites to reach in the U.S., Kalaupapa may be visited only by persons 16 and older, and then only by invitation. The best way to secure an invitation is through Damien Tours. (See our activity tip under Kalaupapa Mule Ride).

    Once we arrived at the park on muleback, we were greeted by a congenial fellow in a dilapadated old school bus. He informed us that he was a mechanic, but today had been designated to be our tour guide. He did a great job. It was heart-rending to see the now mostly empty buildings and hear the tales of isolation and desperation experienced by the hundreds of victims of Hansen's disease who lived and died here. This is the source of Molokai's nickname, "The Forbidden Isle."

    The natural history of the site is also extremely interesting. We viewed ruins which dated back to the times of the first Polynesian settlers to these islands, hundreds of years ago. The tour included a box lunch which we enjoyed overlooking what is certainly one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world.

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    Pala'au State Park

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Mar 5, 2004

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    In the high country on the north end of Molokai we reveled in the cool misty pines that comprise Pala'au State Park. There are picnic tables, petroglyphs, and winding trails atop 3,000 foot sea cliffs.

    One trail was a pleasant walk to Phallic Rock. According to traditional Hawaiian religion, any young maiden who has trouble conceiving a child will become pregnant if she brings a gift and spends the night at the base of this unusual formation. Karen posed for a picture but didn't dare leave an offering. A necklace beside the rock let us know that an earlier visitor had done just that.

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    Kalaupapa National Historical Park

    by annk Written Mar 15, 2003

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    If visiting Molokai for a day only, it's not possible to see both the leper colony at Kalaupapa and drive the island. Torn between what to do we chose the later but hope to return someday to visit the colony.

    The National Park & settlement are located on a peninsula at the center of the island on the north shore. The peninsula is separated by a 1660 foot bluff which isolates it from the rest of the island. Because of this isolation, people afflicted with leprosy were banished here beginning 1866 all the way up to 1969. Back in the 1860's leprosy was spreading throughout the islands so this was an attempt to contain the disease. In 1873 Father Damien, a catholic priest from Belgium arrived in an attempt to assist the colony. He ended up living there until his death of the disease in 1889.

    Access to the peninsula is by plane, hiking or mule. Permission is required and visitors must be 16 years old.

    While driving the length of the island, we did stop at the Kalaupapa Lookout which afforded us with spectacular views of the peninsula and informational plaques describing the hardships of the lepers banished here.

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    A walk through the Ironwoods

    by annk Written Mar 15, 2003

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    It's about a 5 minute walk through a forest of soft-looking ironwood trees to get to the Kalaupapa lookout.

    Another site within walking distance of the same parking area is the 6 foot Phallic Rock or "*** of Nanahoa". Through the ages women would bring offerings and spend the night in the hopes of conceiving a child. I'm sorry I missed this and don't have a photo to share.

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    Ancient Hawaiian Fishponds

    by annk Written Mar 15, 2003

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    At one time there were as many as 60 ancient fish ponds along the shallow south coast of Molokai. Most date back to the 13th century and are semi-circular and composed of lava rock and coral. Fish would swim into the pond during high tide and as the tide subsided, the fish would be trapped.

    Currently there are 2 ponds designated as national historical landmarks including the Kakakaia Pond pictured. This pond has also been turned into a wetland bird sanctuary.

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    Our Lady of Seven Sorrows

    by annk Written Mar 16, 2003

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    The 2nd church built by Father Damien on Molokai, completed in 1874. The church is set amongst a beautiful background of mountains. Looking out towards the ocean another ancient fish pond can be seen.

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    The Martyr of Molokai

    by annk Written Mar 16, 2003

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    The statue of Father Damien is next to the church and often draped with leis.

    Father Damien was born in Belgium in 1840. In 1864 he was ordained a priest in Honolulu, then 9 years later he joined the leper colony on Molokia when many of his parishiners were being shipped there after becoming inflicted with leprosy. He dedicated 16 years of his life assisting the lepers and built 6 chapels, a home for boys then later one for girls, said mass every morning, administered medical service, built homes and even dug graves. In 1885 he contracted the disease but continued to work almost until his death in 1889.

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    Ili'ili'opae Heiau

    by annk Updated Mar 18, 2003

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    Built in the 13th century this heiau is the 2nd largest and perhaps the oldest religious site in Hawaii. The temple was a school for sorcerers and was known for human sacrifice. It was constructed of stone passed hand by hand for 8 miles over mountains and a steep trail. No mortar was used.

    On the National Register of Historic Places.

    It is located on private land so you must call for permission to enter the site.
    (808) 558-8132.
    Ok, we didn't realize this and visited the site without permission or any problems when we got there, not that I'd recommend doing that. Perhaps nobody was home when we visited.
    Anyhow, the trail leading to the heiau is across the street from the Hawaiian Warrior sign shown on my "general" tips. Walk around the gate (it's locked) and it's about 10 minutes down the dirt road right past a small house and to the left in dense vegetation.

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