Consider celebrating your honeymoon holiday or romantic getaway on Molokai – the birthplace of hula.

Molokai is home to Hawaii’s longest white-sand beach (Papohaku Beach), the world’s highest sea cliff (Kahiwa Falls), remote black-sand beaches, lush rainforests, desert and the only barrier reef north of Australia. It also contains ancient heiau (pre-Christian temples).

At only 68,000ha in total, the whole island can be driven tip-to-tip in just a few hours and is the ideal Hawaiian destination for travellers searching for privacy and seclusion.

Rich in history and spirit, two-million-year-old Molokai remains a pristine, uncrowded destination and much of the island still possess the mana (life force) of earlier times. The main town of Kaunakaka has just three blocks and no traffic lights or fast food outlets.

Best Beaches in Molokai

Molokai offers a choice of secluded beaches perfect for honeymoon couples, including…

Papohaku Beach

(West Shore) – At 90m wide and 4.8m long, golden-sand Papohaku Beach is arguably the longest and certainly one of the largest beaches in Hawaii.

Papohaku is perfect for year-round walking, beachcombing, picnicking and watching sunsets, with good swimming, snorkelling, diving, body boarding and surfing in summer when the waves are calm.

Located on the west shore of Molokai, this remote and beautiful beach offers idyllic seclusion; here the only footprints in the sand may be your own.

Facilities include outdoor showers, toilets, a barbecue, picnic tables and drinking water. There are no lifeguards. Note: swimming in winter may be hazardous due to high surf and strong currents.

Halawa Beach

(North Shore) – Located at the end of scenic Halawa Valley, Halawa Beach Park offers two beautiful tree-fringed, black-sand beaches (known as Kama'alaea and Kawilli) that flow into an azure lagoon framed by black lava rocks.

The best swimming and snorkelling is close to shore in summer, while winter attracts surfers with big offshore waves on the north side of the bay. Enjoy a picnic or go fishing.

Facilities include toilets, a picnic pavilion and barbecue grills. There are no lifeguards.

Murphy's Beach

(East Shore) – Discover this pretty strip of golden sand that curves around a reef-protected shallow bay, safe for swimming, snorkelling and diving outside the reef when the sea is calm.

Enjoy a picnic beneath ironwood and palm trees, sunbathe on the soft sand or cast a line for papio. Facilities include three small pavilions, barbecue grills and picnic tables, but no lifeguards, toilets or showers.

Sandy Beach

(East Shore) – One of Molokai's most popular swimming beaches offers a tiny shelf of golden sand protected by a reef, with great views across to the islands of Maui and Lanai.

Relax on the soft sand or go swimming, snorkelling and diving. There are no facilities here.

One Ali’i Beach Park

(South Shore) – Stroll in the footsteps of Hawaiian royalty on the oldest public beach park on Molokai. One Ali'i I and One Ali'i II beaches offer safe swimming and picnic areas that sit within a shady coconut grove.

Facilities include outdoor showers, toilets, barbecue grills, picnic tables and a children’s playground.

Kepuhi Beach

(West Shore) – Summer months bring calm water to this pretty golden-sand beach that fronts the Kaluakoi Resort and Golf Course.

Enjoy picturesque sunsets any time of the year and go beachcombing, swimming, snorkelling, diving and bodysurfing in summer.

Watch out for the high surf conditions in winter that make watersports dangerous here. Apart from the resort’s facilities, beach amenities include toilets and showers, but no lifeguard.

Top attractions in Molokai

Discover a choice of must-see natural attractions on Molokai, including…

Ili'ili'opae Heiau (Sacrificial Stone) – Try to visit the largest and most famous of the heiau (ancient Hawaiian places of worship) on Molokai.

The enormous stone platform measures 36m wide by 97m long and in ancient times was used by priests to conduct human sacrifices. The heiau, located on Highway 450 near Kaunakakai, can be visited on foot or by horseback.

Halawa Valley and Bay – Discover a beautiful and remote valley of hiking trails, waterfalls and ancient Hawaiian religious and cultural sites that ends at a pristine beach and bay.

The stunning crescent of golden sand and crystal clear water of Halawa Bay make it an ideal secluded spot to sunbathe, body surf or snorkel.

Kalaupapa National Historic Park – Saddle up for a guided tour atop the highest sea cliffs in the world to Kalaupapa. The 4.6km trail winds through 26 switchbacks and offers an endless blue seascape.

Years ago the park was home to a selfless Belgian missionary who treated disease victims who were exiled to this beautiful but isolated location.

Things to do in Molokai

Along with surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking and wind surfing there’s the opportunity to enjoy whale-watching, deep sea fishing, touring the island on a sailing sloop and boating out to see the world’s tallest sea cliffs at 1097m-high.

Relax amid unspoiled nature as you sunbathe or stroll hand-in-hand along gorgeous powder-soft beaches. Drive through Molokai’s lush, green valleys, hike or ride on horse back along its dramatic, pristine coast while viewing awesome sea cliffs.

Hiking – Hook up with a guide and hike through native fruits and flowers into the sacred Halawa Valley to experience one of the best hikes on Molokai. The 3.8km hike ends at the stunning 76m-high, double-tiered Mooula Falls. Jump into the pool beneath the falls for a refreshing cool swim, but before you do, drop a ti leaf into the pool.

Hawaiian legend says that a giant moo, or lizard, lives at the bottom of the pool. If the ti leaf sinks, the moo is in no mood for visitors, but if the ti leaf floats, it's safe to enter Mooula's waters.

Head over to the Waikolu Valley lookout and the historic Sandalwood Pit where loggers of iliahi (native sandalwood) once tossed precious sandalwood. Once full, they hauled their aromatic cargo down the mountain to sell. Continue on to the 1214ha Kamakou Preserve east of Kaunakakai, a place so hidden and pristine that you may be forgiven for imagining you're the first person to find it.

Trek the 5km round-trip Kamakou boardwalk through primal bog and rainforest, along the way seeing more than 200 rare plants only found in Kamakou. Listen out for the songs of the olomao and kawawahie, two birds nearing extinction.

Surfing – Check out Halawa Beach, a favourite surfing spot. The beach has double coves separated by a rocky outcrop. When the water is calm you can enjoy good swimming, but be aware that both coves are subject to dangerous rip currents when the surf is heavy.

Driving – Rent a car and drive along highway 450 to marvel at the island’s natural landmarks, including the beautiful Halawa Valley. See where ‘Bell Stones’ were used as drums to announce the birth of a future king.

Go for a walk and enjoy a romantic picnic, or for a unique experience hike into Hipuapua and Moaula falls in the Halawa Valley. Access to the falls is only available by permission and it’s recommended you go with an experienced guide.

Horseback riding – Ride a mule down a sea cliff to the beautiful Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Stand at the edge of Kalaupapa Lookout in Pala’au State Park and gaze down almost 600m to the peninsula below.

Nearby you’ll see the massive phallic-shaped stone known as Kauleonanahoa — one of the finest examples of a traditional fertility rock to be found in the islands. Locals believe that if a woman goes to Kauleonanahoa with offerings and spends the night there, she’ll return home pregnant!

Golf – Tee-off at the charming, plantation-style, nine-hole Ironwood Hills course, which sits on sloping land along central Molokai's north coast mountains. The easy-to-play course is the descendant of one of Hawai’i's original plantation courses, the Hanekekua Golf Club, which opened in 1938.

The course offers stunning views of the beautiful Kalaupapa Peninsula, some 600m straight down. If you look closely you may even see a number of black mountain goats grazing happily on the vertical cliff faces below.

Best time to visit Molokai

The best time to visit Molokai is during summer, from June through September, when the temperature is high but still comfortable due to the cooling effects of the trade winds.

The hottest months are August and September, when temperatures may reach 32°C (89°F).

Molokai is a year-round destination, with comfortable temperatures even in winter, although you can expect more rainfall.

Molokai experiences a tropical climate, with a hot season from June to October and a cooler, rainy season from December to March, when you can expect slightly cooler temperatures and heavy rain in the mountains and short showers elsewhere. Most of Molokai's rainfall occurs at night.

The trade winds, which blow from the north-east year-round, create microclimates, wet or dry, depending on exposure.

The leeward side – west and south coasts – of Molokai are usually hot and dry, while the windward side – east and north coasts – are generally cooler and wet. Higher elevations are cooler with occasional misty conditions.

More about Molokai weather

How to get to Molokai

Molokai, known as the 'Friendly Isle', lies to the southeast of Oahu across the 40km (25mi) wide Kaiwi Channel, and north of Lanai, separated from it by the Kalohi Channel.

The most convenient route to Molokai is by air to Molokai Airport (MKK), also known as Hoolehua Airport, located about 8km (5mi) northwest of Kaunakakai town.

From international and mainland-US destinations this requires first flying into Honolulu International Airport (HNL), followed by a connecting 30-minute flight to Molokai Airport (MKK).

Molokai is the fifth-largest of the Hawaiian islands, a chain of volcanic islands in the North Pacific Ocean, around 3860km (2398mi) from mainland USA.

More about how to get to Molokai

More about Hawaii…

Latest update: Molokai: 13 January, 2023