Updated: December 2017

Molokai Hawaii - Trip Planner

Molokai is one of the Hawaiian islands, located between Oahu and Maui. It is a fairly small island, shaped a little like a shark, about 40 miles long by 10 miles tall. It is about 25 miles from Oahu and just 15 miles from Maui's northwest shore. Like all Hawaiian islands, Molokai owes its existence to volcanic activity. And part of what makes Molokai special -- dramatic, 3000 foot steep cliff faces (located along the northeast side) -- is a result of some pretty catastrophic volcanic activity, namely the collapse of the eastern side of the volcano. Molokai in the past was famed as a leper colony in the 1800s, where people afflicted by the disease were forced to be located in isolation. The famous Father Damien earned his reputation here caring for people suffering from leprosy -- he himself would ultimately die from the disease. These days about 7-8000 people (no more leprosy, we promise!) inhabit the island. Although Molokai is called "the friendly island", this less-frequently visited island sometimes gets a reputation for being a little stand-offish, and though mainlanders often feel resentment from island natives when in Hawaii, it can sometimes feel even a little stronger on this more remote, less-developed island. That being said, it is still a great place to visit, even for a day, which is a common outing from Maui. Molokai day trips are available, as listed below, with just a brief ferry ride over from Lahaina. Keep in mind Molokai is not an island with lots of night life - it is very quiet, not even a single traffic light. If you are looking for "old Hawaii" without all the crowds, congestion, and big resorts, Molokai might be just for you.

Molokai Ferry - Getting To Molokai

Most visitors to Molokai come from Maui via ferries from Lahaina, but you can also fly there from Maui or Honolulu. The airport code for Molokai is MKK if you want to search for flights. The Molokai ferry from Maui has an official website - MolokaiFerry.com or MauiPrincess.com. You can check either sites for departure schedules, but the usual schedule is:

FROM MAUI: (2 trips daily, 90 minutes cruising time)
  • Depart 7:15AM -- Arrive Molokai (Kaunakakai) 8:45AM
  • Depart 6PM -- Arrive Molokai (Kaunakakai) 7:30PM
FROM MOLOKAI: (2 trips daily, 90 minutes cruising time)
  • Depart 5:30AM -- Arrive Maui (Lahaina) 7AM
  • Depart 4PM -- Arrive Maui (Lahaina) 5:30PM
The 3 main ships that provide ferry service between Molokai and Maui are the Maui Princess, Molokai Princess, and Lahaina Princess, all owned by the Lahaina Cruise Company. Tickets for single passengers are $40 for adults each way, $20 for children (ages 4-12). However, most people who make the trip do it as part of a package, since you really need a rental car once there or a tour package to see much of the island. There are a variety of Molokai package deals available. A cruise/car package runs about $200 for the driver, and $75 for additional adults, $40 for kids - this covers ferry tickets and car rental expense. A narrated van tour with a guide costs about $200 per adult and $135 per child, which includes a full day 9-3:30 tour of the island. Things to see include: Pala'au State Park and Kalaupapa Overlook, Father Damien Church, Kaunakakai Town, etc. If you are adventurous, go for the car rental package and explore on your own. Just be sure to be back in time for the return ferry trip (4PM). If you like to let someone else do the driving and worrying, go for a guided tour. Lastly, consider a Molokai golf tour - for about $320 per person you get the ferry ride, island transportation, and 18 holes of golf (with cart!) on the Kaluakoi Golf Course. Golf club rental is extra if you don't have your own clubs with you. The Kaluakoi Golf Course is part of the Molokai Ranch, which is another great reason to visit Molokai. The Ranch is a 65,000 acre property (MolokaiRanch.com) that occupies the western part of the island. The beautiful Lodge offers 22 luxury rooms, while the Beach Village offers 40 "tentalows" which are a little more rustic, with canvas walls and open-air bathrooms. The 2BR, 600sf tentalows go for about $200-$400 per night. Lodge rooms run $275-$400 per night. Consider spending a night on Molokai if you make the trip out there - below we list some additional Molokai lodging and hotel options if you visit.

Best Molokai Hotels and Lodging

Where's the best place to stay in Molokai? Outside of the Molokai Ranch listed above, there are a number of options when it comes to choosing a place to stay on Molokai. The largest number of lodging choices are around Kaluakoi, which is on the far western edge of Molokai, and Kaunakakai, which is where the ferry from Lahaina docks on the south side of the island. One good place to start for ideas on location and prices is VRBO.com (vacation rentals by owner) - search for Molokai and see what sparks your fancy. Most condos go for $100-$200 per night, not bad by Hawaiian standards. Some popular locations are the Wavecrest condos about 12 miles along the coast highway 450 east of Kaunakakai, the Hotel Molokai (even closer to Kaunakakai, on Kamiloloa Beach), and Molokai Shores. Keep in mind that the Wavecrest units are all owned by different owners, some are old and dated and some are newly renovated. Closer to Kaluakoi, popular places to stay include Ke Nani Kai and the Kaluakoi Villas (on Kepuhi Beach, and beginning to really show their age). This side of the island is very remote with no real restaurants nearby and stores that close early - if that is not your cup of tea, be warned.