Travel Tips for the Molokai Traveler
Traveling to Molokai requires some preparation, and knowledge about some dissimilar practices and rules in Molokai. Here are some tips and tricks on getting by on your trip to the island.
Before you land
One of the main concerns about traveling anywhere is what to pack. For Molokai, off the bat, Hawaiian shirts and hula dresses may come to mind. Of course, unless you’re attending festivities that require outfits, you don’t necessarily need these.
Dressing up for Molokai just has one rule: be Comfortable. Choose clothing that suit your lifestyle, style, the weather, and the activities you intend to do while on vacation. In general, since Molokai has tropical weather, select loose and light clothing. Sandals, boat shoes, or just plain walking shoes will do for footwear. Short sleeve shirts, t-shirts, simple blouses, and sundresses are also common. During summer, you might want to bring along pairs of sunglasses.
If you intend to indulge in some water activities, swimsuits and swimming trunks are required. For diving and snorkeling gears, you can bring your own or rent out from dive centers. These centers also provide lifejackets if you need them.
Evening wear in Molokai is also often kept casual. Dress shirts or suits are not necessary. Just slacks and jeans will do. There are some fine restaurants in the island though that may require men to wear collared shirts or coats. You can include a sports coat in your travel wardrobe, just in case.
The hikes that you’ll encounter in Molokai are more or less low altitude so you won’t need warm clothing for this. However, if you’ll stop over the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or the Mauna Kea trails, better bring warm clothes with you, as well as hiking boots that have good traction.
Other items in your baggage
Like all airports, there are items that you are restricted from bringing into Molokai and the rest of Hawaii. Some plants and animals may affect the indigenous environment in Molokai. These goods should be declared, inspected, and possibly quarantined.
To avoid any hassle, refrain from bringing in fresh fruits, vegetables, foliage, flowers, plants, algae, and seeds into the island. Likewise, live animals such as seafood, bacteria cultures, fish, and others need to be declared and inspected. If you are traveling with a pet, they need to be declared and quarantined before being released back to you.
Aside from these – and the usual no-nos like illicit drugs, etc. – you should be able to come into the state without much problems.
Remember the usual packing rules. You are only allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item when on the plane. This means you can carry a bag, and store a laptop, camera bag, or briefcase in your overhead bin. Undeveloped films should be included with your camera bag (carry-on baggage). These films are damaged if they go through the airport’s x-ray system. Also, label your bags appropriately so you can easily identify them.
Getting to the island paradise
Remember that there are only two ways to get to Molokai. You can either take a connecting flight from Honolulu or take a ferry from Maui.
Connecting flights from Honolulu to the Ho’olehua Airport in Molokai can be arranged through your travel agent. Or, you can just book from the airport.
Be wary about your baggage for these interconnecting flights. Check how they are labeled first. If they only have HNL in their tags, then they are also set to go up to Honolulu. You will have to pick out your bags and check them in again for your connecting flight. If they are labeled MKK, then your bag should already be loaded into your connecting flight. Of course, it is always best to double check everything. It would be a bummer to get all the way to Molokai without your bags.
When claiming your bags from the Honolulu airport, note that the baggage claim area is at the ground floor of the Main Terminal. To get to your connecting flights, there are free Wiki-wiki rides. Or, you can just always take a nice walk. In Molokai, the baggage claim counter is also on the ground floor. Flights from Honolulu to Molokai usually take only 25 minutes.
If you decide to take the ferry from Maui, then you need to plan your schedule ahead. There are only two trips per day, one in the morning and one right before dusk. The ferry travels from Lahaina in Maui to Molokai’s Kaunakakai town. These boats take about an hour and half to cross between the islands. It is ideal to travel in the morning if you are still unsure about traveling around Molokai. It is always easier to navigate through unfamiliar territory with daylight on your side. If you travel in the afternoon, you can watch the beautiful seaside sunset. However, it’ll be evening when you get to Molokai. Be sure to make arrangements with your resort or hotel to pick you up from the port. Or, arrange for a taxi or car rental in advance.
If you are traveling during winter, then lucky you may be able to witness humpback whales and other marine giants migrating through Hawaiian waters.
When in Molokai
There is so much to do and so many places to choose from when in Molokai. You can choose to go camping in one of its many nature and beach parks. Or you can rent out condos, beach houses, or hotel rooms. Note that there is only one hotel in the island – the Hotel Molokai – so, there’s a limit there.
When choosing where to stay in the island, decide what you want to do foremost. If you want to linger on the beach or do mostly water activities, then select beachfront properties on the beach that you prefer. Since there are no public transportation available on the island, getting around during those impromptu trips can be hard. It is best to stay where you are likely to spend most of your time. Just hire taxis or rent cars when you have something special planned elsewhere.
Go to the island during summer for endless water fun. You can swim, snorkel, and dive as much as you want. There are several sites you can head to for this. If you head out to the island during winter, you are likely to witness one of nature’s marvels, the humpback whales, in action.
Your travel agent can arrange car rentals, and tour guides for your trip to the island. Or, you can just go at it on your own. Since there is no public transportation in the island, make arrangements for taxi services or car rental services. A couple of car rental companies have set up booths at the airport. Or, better yet, call ahead so they can reserve a ride for you.
Another rule to follow when in Molokai is to take it easy and relax. Life can be slow and leisurely when on the island. Enjoy this for how it is.
When on your way out
Your vacation in the island can be so good that you’d want to bring most of the island back home with you. This is impossible, of course. There are limitations to what you can take with you.
Even when traveling between Hawaii to the mainland, there are still sanctions to bringing in restricted fruits, vegetables, and plants. The airport will have a list of items you can’t take with you. Check with the attendants first before packing the whole of Molokai with you.
Likewise, note that your baggage will need to go through agricultural inspection, especially if you are carrying agricultural products. All allowed agricultural products still need to be inspected thoroughly. Else, these might be confiscated.
Once you’re through with these, have the proper identification and documents ready. You will need to show your ID, boarding pass, as well as passport and visa (when necessary).
Be sure that you do not have any suspicious and hazardous substances in your carry on bags. New restrictions have been applied to combat terrorist situations. If you went camping and brought stoves, and gas tanks with you, check these in. The same goes for camping knives and tool kits. Even the everyday nipper can be confiscated.
On coming back
It is almost close to impossible to not want to come back to Molokai once you’ve experienced how life can be on the island. In this likelihood, take note of your current experience. If you hired a local tour guide and liked his or her services, get his or her number for the next time you come around or in case your friends need recommendations. These small gestures are greatly appreciated. Likewise, get your accommodation’s contact information. If you liked your stay and will probably visit again, you can make arrangements with them directly instead of going through a travel agent.
Molokai is great to visit over and over again to explore further or get a much needed vacation. Experience as much as Molokai as you can – you won’t regret it.