Lana’i and Moloka’i Islands

There are six main Hawaiian Islands – the most developed one being O’ahu Island where the city of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach are both located along with all the big name hotels and resorts. The other main islands are Kaua’I, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui and Hawai’i Island- and each island is special.
Lana’i Island – is a small island just 13 miles x 18 miles long. There are around 3000 people living on the island so it is a big contrast to the big city feel of Honolulu. Ferries run to and from Lahaina on Maui to Lana’i and take about half an hour to cross over the channel. You might even see dolphins on the way.
If you love the quietness, solitude of an island away from the crowds this is the island to head to, and if you enjoy playing golf, the courses here can be both challenging but also have great locations too.
There are two big resorts with all the amenities, restaurants and bars – the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay ( 1 Manele Bay Road) on the coast and in the mountains there is the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i “The Lodge at Koele”, (1 Keomoku Highway)both offering the same level of service and luxury but in completely different surrounds.
At the Four Seasons at Manele Bay there is the great swimming pool and other activities, while in the Lodge in the Highlands there are the gardens surrounding the lake, horse stables for riding, clay shooting and archery to enjoy.
The island itself has just 48 kilometres of paved roads, but you can also go off-road to see other places in the highlands taking a 4WD tour. Originally the island supplied most of the world’s pineapples, but now most of the island has reverted to natural bush and vegetation. Tall Cook Island pine trees can be seen throughout the highlands.
Places to see –

  • Lanai City – the original township built in the 1920’s for pineapple workers on the James Dole plantations that at one time covered 20,000 acres of ground. This is now the main commercial centre of the island.
  • Golf – there are 3 main gold Courses – one being “The Challenge” next to the Four Seasons Hotel/Resort on the coast.
  • Hiking – see – there are some great walking trails to follow and see the amazing landscape on Lana’i Island.
  • Horse back riding – see . If you are lucky you might come across wild deer in the mist of the mountains.
  • Snorkeling, diving and snuba (where you have a glass helmet with air fed by an air-hose to you. Take your time to just enjoy the waters around the island.
  • Puu Pehu (Sweetheart Rock) – a great place to take photos of the rock formations
  • Polihua Beach - a 3 kilometre long secluded beach, so no patrols here and the surf can be dangerous.
  • Keahiakawelo at the end of Polihuo Road, (the Garden of the Gods) that looks like a moonscape where you are surrounded by thousands of red rocks of all sizes and shapes.
  • Kailohia (Shipwreck Beach) on the north East Coast – where there is a full size rusting ship hulk just offshore.
  • Kaunolu Village – is where the original foundations of the Halulu Heiau Temple can be seen. It is also where the ‘Kahekili’s Leap’ is located – where young warriors dived or leapt over the edge into the water below a distance of some 60 feet or more. To get here you need a 4WD. There are also great views of Shark Fin Bay from here too.
  • Lanaihale – by 4WD – a good way to unwind and see some of the Highlands.

Moloka’i Island –
Moloka’i Island is a long narrow island about 37 miles long and just 10 miles wide with a long 27 mile long coral reef just off the southern coastline- and is said to be where the Hula Dance was first created. The island is quite different to most of the other islands and doesn’t have the big name hotels and resorts that you may have come to expect. In fact there are no High Rise buildings or buildings that are higher than two storeys, but there are places to stay including small hotels, condominiums, Bed & breakfast places and other places
The island itself is just 26 miles southeast of Honolulu and 8 miles west of Maui, with Lana’i to the south about 10 miles too. The main town is Kaunakakai on the south side of the island where about 3000 of the island’s 8000 population live, with about 45% of the population having Hawaiian ancestry.
Everything is just a short distance away – with the Highway running from Halawa in the east through Kaunakakai (Highway 450) to Maunaloa in the west (Highway 460) with smaller roads leading to different parts of the island. Much of the north coast is almost sheer cliffs coming off the mountain side, so you will no doubt spend most of your time in Moloka’i on the southern side.

  • The biggest attraction on the island is certainly the Coral Reef, and there are a number of cruise and dive boats – most based in Kaunakakai that can take you to dive, snorkel and fish in and around the reef, which has pristine coral and lots of tropical fish, turtles and Eagle Rays, manta rays to see. (See, , ) and you can also do dolphin and whale spotting (December- march) ( ) or take an air tour ( ). Canoeing is also popular as is sun bathing on the beaches. There are many beaches, but many are also not patrolled and can have dangerous rips, so you need to be sure that where you are swimming is safe too.
  • Kaunakakai – is where the Ferries to Maui and Reef Charters berth and the long wharf that leads out from the coastline is located here. It’s a good place to relax along the shoreline. Also to find the hot bread shop too.
  • Malawa – is located on the north east end of the island where the first Marqueses Islanders arrived in the 7th The Malawa Valley was hit by a Tsunami in 1946 and again in 1957, and today you can take a guided tour to see a beautiful waterfall here in the Valley called the Moaula Falls which cascade in two drops about 250 feet to the pool of water below them. Even higher is the Hipuapua Falls which have a drop of 500 feet. The 2 mile walking tour takes you through the valley past rainforest, crosses over two rivers and the tour guide will tell you the story of the valley and the ancient temples and taboos that are an important part of Hawaiian Heritage and culture.
  • Kalaupapa National Park Peninsula and Lookout – is located in the central north of the island (at the end of Highway 470). Kalaupapa was once a Leper Colony (Hansen’s Disease) that operated here between 1866 and 1969 and you can take a tour there and travel down the side of the mountain side by mule along a narrow track or trail that descends the 1700 feet drop and distance of 2.6 miles to the Kalaupapa Village. (See ) . In Kalaupapa Village you will be able to see St Philomena Church, learn about the village, Saint Damien and Saint Marianne Cope and the past and also see the spectacular cliffs some as high as 3900 feet and ocean surrounds, as well as getting to know your mule in the process. Phallic Rock is also here too near the Lookout.
  • The 1878 R.W Meyer Sugar Mills and Museum – is located on Highway 470 and is beside the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center. The Mill has been restored while the Museum gives a good insight into Molokai’s past industries and people.
  • Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nut Farm – is located at 4 Lili Pali Avenue in Ho’elehua (Tel: 808 567 6601)
  • Coffees of Hawaii – is located on Farrington Highway, just off Highway 470 in the town of Kualapu’u (Sweet Potato Hill). If you are lucky you might be able to do a tour sitting on a wagon pulled along by two mules.
  • Molokai Plumeria Orchard – is located about 2 ½ miles west of Kaunakakai at 1342 Maunaloa Highway 460. The Plumeria flowers are used on Leis and here you will see thousands of these beautiful flowers, which are also called Frangipanis. (See Tel: 808 553 3391)
  • Molokai Fish Ponds – Two of these are located at Keawanui and Ualapue east of Kaunakakai – and these are said to be maybe 700 to 800 years old, built as walls from coral and rocks to create pools of water inside the ponds to trap the fish with the tides.
  • Molokai Kite Factory – is located in Maualoa next to the Post Office, making kites and wind socks of all sorts and sizes. (See )
  • Maunaloa – is set in a lush valley on the western end of Moloka’i Island, which was home to the Molokai Ranch – a Ranch property dating back to 1897 that spread out over 70,000 acres, almost one third of the island. The company closed down its operations in 2008, following heated community opposition to the company’s plan to build more than 200 luxury villas on their land. Maunaloa retains its small plantation village feel and is close to the village of Kaluakoi and the 3 mile long Papohaku beach and popular Dixie Maru beach too. There are small shops and places to stay in Maunaloa and also Kaluakoi.

Moloka’i Island has retained its charm and small town/island feel and being small it is easy to get around and see the island’s scenery and places of interest. The reef is certainly the main attraction, but the other parts of the island and the people you meet will make for an enjoyable stay.
Happy Travelling!
Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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