If you have just one day to spend on Molokai, you’re in luck; it’s a smaller island that’s ideal for a day trip within a Hawaiian NCL Cruise. That said, a longer stay on Molokai can allow you to drink in the old style island life more deeply.
Molokai is the fifth largest Hawaiian island. It’s 38 miles long and 10 miles wide at its widest. By comparison, Maui to the east is 40 miles long and 26 miles wide. Molokai is located in approximately the middle of the eight large islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.
Oahu is about 25 miles to the southwest of Molokai, and Maui sits 8 miles to the east. A ferry boat ride or a short flight from Maui can get you to Molokai for an amazing adventure. Molokai offers an even slower pace than Maui and the other Hawaiian islands, with contrasting landscapes and far fewer crowds.
Molokai has around 8,000 residents, and half of them live in its main town called Kaunakakai. With around 40 percent Hawaiian natives, Molokai is often called, “the most Hawaiian island.” The original settlers likely came from Marquesas, Tahiti and other South Pacific islands. The economy has always been agriculture-based, with many ranches on its open terrain. Cattle such as beef and dairy cows, sheep, and bees for honey are raised here, as are various grains and crops. Pineapple has been grown here as well.
If you just have one day to spend on Molokai, the following itinerary will allow you to get a good sampling of what the island has to offer:
Start by taking the ferry from Lahaina town on Maui and enjoy the bright sky, land and ocean views along the way. You’ll dock in Kaunakakai, Molokai’s main town. However, despite being its largest city, there are far fewer crowds and traffic than on Maui. The town reflects a simpler way of life, with fewer traffic lights and businesses. Locals often fish for their dinner in the ocean.
Stroll down Ala Malama Avenue, Kaunakakai’s main street and browse the interesting shops and boutiques you’ll find there. Try a sandwich or pastry at Kanemitsu’s Bakery. There are plenty of other stores to explore in Kaunakakai as well as a book store and pizza café. If you’re there on a Saturday, check out the outdoor market.
The Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove and Beach Park allows you to take in one of the last remaining royal coconut groves in Hawaii. It is is adjacent to the town of Kaunakakai and features hundreds of coconut palm trees. It was planted in the 1860s during King Kamehameha V’s reign. (Just watch out for falling coconuts as you stroll the grounds!)
Consider watching the sunset later in the evening from the grassy area off the Mauna Loa Highway near the Kapuaiwa sign. Across from the park you’ll also find the historic “Church Row,” which features seven charming, historic 19th century missionary-style churches.
Coffees of Hawaii is the next recommended stop on your Molokai day trip. It’s a 500-acre plantation in the center of Molokai dedicated to producing high-quality Hawaiian coffee. They mill and roast Molokai coffee, but they also offer Kona and Maui blends as well. Tour the grounds and check out the gift shop and café, where you can buy freshly brewed cups of coffee as well as pastries, soups, salads, sandwiches, and more.
If you’ve picked up lunch or dinner items at The Coffees of Hawaii Café or brought your own food, consider heading to beautiful One Alii Beach Park on Molokai’s south shore for a picnic. After your meal, take a drive over to Palaau State Park and enjoy an amazing view of the Kalaupapa Peninsula.
As you ride the ferry back to Maui after your day trip, watch for humpback whales breaching in the ocean during winter months. No matter what time of year, you’re sure to enjoy lots of amazing scenery in all directions.