January ‘Spotlight On Maui’: The Empty Beaches of Moloka’i

“Spotlight On Maui” is a monthly series written for VacationRoost, an online accommodation site helping you find your perfect rental.

Quick question for all of our readers: What looks better?



Or this:

That’s what I thought.

As most of the U.S. mainland scrapes ice off of their windshield and pulls on another turtle neck, the mid-winter shores of Maui are usually graced with sunny skies, whale watching tours, and there is a better chance of you getting a sunburn and heat rash than frostbite and the flu.

This, however, isn’t exactly a secret. In fact, during some periods of the year–such as the beginning of January–Maui’s beaches can be so packed it can be difficult to find a place just to set down your towel. If battling for parking stalls, snorkeling into other human beings, and being gassed by your neighbor’s aerosol sunscreen doesn’t sound like the ideal way to spend your Maui beach vacation, don’t despair, because there is an option out there you probably haven’t thought of.

What is it, you ask?

What if I were to tell you there was a place nearby where the beaches were always empty and the sunsets were even better? A place where oceanfront development was replaced by nature and it was still possible to place the only set of footprints in the sand?

No, I’m not talking about Ka’anapali in the 1960’s, I’m talking about a place you can actually see from the shores of the swollen beaches. A place that’s accessible by both ferry and flight. A place that’s known as the island of Moloka’i.

Wait. What? Moloka’i? I thought there were lepers over there?

While Moloka’i’s Kalaupapa Peninsula was in fact home to a colony for leprosy patients, today only a handful of elderly, non-contagious residents inhabit the remote peninsula, and the island is a perfectly safe place to visit.  More so, whereas Maui sees over 2 million visitors annually, Moloka’i–only nine miles across the Pailolo Channel–officially records fewer than 60,000 guests.

The island, however, is not difficult to reach. A ferry runs each morning from Lahaina Harbor at 7:15 a.m., and an afternoon boat departs for Moloka’i at 6 p.m. The channel crossing–particularly the afternoon boat–can often times be rough, however, and some visitors opt to make the 20-minute flight from Kahului airport. Either way, the island of Moloka’i makes a great day-trip or multi-day getaway for Maui visitors who want to escape the crowds for a little bit. Sure, the ferry ride or the plane flight are going to be an extra cost, and you’ll need to rent a car once you get there (get 4×4 if you can), but exploring one of Hawaii’s least-developed places is an experience that justifies the added expense.

Need a little more coaxing? Take a look at some of these beaches and picture yourself in the middle of them, book, beach chair, and beer bottle in hand.

1. Kawa’aloa Beach

2. Kawakiu Iki Beach

Kawakiu Iki Molokai

3. Make Horse Beach (Dead Horse Beach)

Make Horse Beach Moloka'i

4. Puko’o Beach

Puko'o Beach Moloka'i

5. Murphy’s Beach

Murphy's Beach Molokai

6. Halena Beach

Halena Baech Molokai

7. Hale O Lono

Hale O Lono Harbor Molokai

8.Papohaku Beach

Papohaku Beach Molokai

9. Kepuhi Beach

Kepuhi Beach Molokai

Believe it or not, these are just a handful of the Moloka’i beaches where you can relax, lay out, and pretty much ensure you’ll have the place all to yourself. Granted, if you’re the type of traveler who’s looking for fast-paced nightlife, luxurious shopping, and all-you-can-drink happy hours, perhaps Moloka’i isn’t going to be for you. If, on the other hand, you want to switch it up on your next trip to Maui and go off the beaten path for a couple of days, consider hopping over to neighboring Moloka’i. The mid winter sun is still warm over here, and it’s a part of Hawaii that few visitors ever get the chance to see.

Want to island hop over to Molokai? Check out VacationRoost for affordable vacation rentals and housing options during the part of your trip spent on Maui.

Photo Credits: [Papohaku: 4nitsirk on Flickr, Kepuhi: 4nitsirk on Flickr]

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

thehawaii.org May 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Hwaii is aan awesome place to vacation. Yes it’s got warm water spectacular beaches plhs amazing landscapes but don’t deceive your self.
If you are going aand I don’t really care if it’s only for several days then you better hzve enough money all
set. My wife and I believed we had iit all coveeed
and the cost for a lot of stuff still caused our jaws to drop
on the floor.

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