Sporting Activities in Molokai

There is so much to do when in Molokai. If you are inclined towards physical activities, you definitely won’t get bored when you’re in the island.


There are several hiking trails you can follow when you get the need to explore. Here are some of them:

1. The Hawala Valley Trail to Mooula Falls

The path that you take when going to the Mooula Falls via the Halawa Valley is one that’s covered with indigenous flora, and even some rare species of plants and animals. The sight is that of lush greeneries, dotted by hidden heiau (ancient temples). These temples are believed to be from way back 650 AD. It was during this time when the ancient Polynesians first settled into the valley. It has since become one of their most sacred lands.

The Mooula Falls greets you at the end of the trail. The falls is one of the tallest in Hawaii. It is two hundred and fifty feet tall and splits into two tiers. The hike to the falls is a bit hard so you would need to fit for it. You also need to wear appropriate shoes, such as hiking boots with ample traction.

To and from the falls is approximately 4.2 miles. This can take half a day or more so bring a packed lunch, as well as ample trail food. You should also have enough water. A liter might be enough, except for those who sweat a lot. These people might need more water to replenish loss fluid with.

Technically, the pool of Mooula Falls is safe enough to swim in. However, there is a legend that surrounds it. According to the legend, a giant lizard resides at the pool’s bottom. Any visitor should check with the lizard first if he or she can swim in the pool. To do this, you must drop a ti leaf into the water. If the ti leaf floats, then you are good to go. Otherwise, you should stay out of the water. The lizard does not like to be bothered at that time.

Whether you believe the legend or not, play safe and refrain from going too deep. People aren’t very buoyant in these waters so some swimming skills are required.

2. The Kamakou Preserve

The Kamakou Preserve is about three thousand acres of forest land, filled with indigenous flora, and about two hundred kinds of rare Hawaiian plants. These rare floras can only be found locally, within the preserve. This is an easy hike through a three-mile boardwalk. Of course, you would still need to bring ample water and snacks.

Before you reach the preserve, you will also be treated with a sight of the Sandalwood Pit. The pit is symbolic to sandalwood loggers who filled the pit with sandalwood. They would only trade the product when the pit’s been filled. The Kamakou Preserve is also a good place for bird watching. It is ideal to have a pair of binoculars ready.

3. The Kalaupapa National Historic Park

Most people trek the slopes of the Kalaupapa park on top of a mule. However, hikers should be able to easily traverse the trail and enjoy the Guinness Book of World Records’ highest sea cliffs. The vista from the trail is a picturesque blue, and just plain awesome.

Riding a mule, the trail can take an hour and a half. On foot, it might take twice the time. At the end of the trail is the Kalaupapa town, where you get to see relics of the town where Father Damien used to administer to banished patients with leprosy.

Sights to see in town include the St. Philomena Roman Catholic Church. This is also the location of the good priest’s grave.

To visit the park, you will need to sign up with a tour company. Unguided travelers are not allowed within the park’s premises.

Water fun

Of course, what’s a trip to Molokai without a playful romp in its waters? Regardless of what you’re into, you can find a venue here on the island.

1. Swimming: Most beaches are good for swimming, especially during summer. Special precaution is advised when currents are strong, as some of these beaches don’t have lifeguards. You can find good swimming at the beaches of Kapukahehu, Pohaku Mauliuli, and Kepuhi, which are all at Molokai’s west end. On the east, the Ali’I Beach Park and the Kakahai’a Beach Park are good options, especially for families.

2. Surfing and Bodyboarding: Papohaku Beach Park and Kepuhi Beach are some of the beaches where you can get good surfing waters during winter. There are also times within the day when waters here swell up. Papohaku is actually one of the more popular beaches in Hawaii as it is a three-mile long beach, where there are several sporting activities available.

3. Snorkeling: With the protection set up for the marine life in Molokai and the rest of Hawaii, its waters have remained lush with tropical fish and corals. Kumimi Beach on the island’s east side is a favorite among snorkelers. Kapukahehu, Papohaku, Kepuhi, and Pohaku Mauliuli on the west side might also offer some snorkeling, although these beaches are more known for swimming. Halawa Bay, likewise, offers great snorkeling right off the beach. Moomomi Beach is also good.

Snorkelers are likely to get better action and variety when they hire a boat to take them to remote snorkeling spots. There are tour operators for these, and usually they can supply lifejackets and snorkeling gears.

4. Scuba Diving: Like snorkeling, scuba diving can be awesome in Molokai. The good dive spots are mostly concentrated around Molokai’s Mokuhooniki Island. This island is at the open sea, and usually experiences comparably strong waves. The site is not suitable for intro dives or beginners. You will most likely need to do a drift dive here. But then, if you do go, you might spot an amazing array of tropical fish, as well as a good number of pelagics. The Fish Rain is another good dive spot in Molokai. Here, you are likely to see hammerhead sharks, monk seals, whale sharks, and mahi-mahi. This is also for advanced divers only.

5. Kayaking and Canoeing: The waters of Molokai are just amazing. Plus, there are several small islands, and seaside cliffs to explore. One of the best ways to do this is via a kayak or canoe. Waters are relatively calm during summers but can get rough during winter season. Also, there are unexpected swells and tidal surges every now and then. You must be an experienced paddler. A couple of shops rent out kayaks or canoes. They also offer kayak tours if you want to go with a group.

6. Fishing: Molokai was once an aquaculture center and its waters still teem with excellent game fish. You can go trolling and yield mahi mahis, tunas, and onos. If you fish just offshore, you can catch some ama amas and uluas. If you bottom fish, you can catch some ukus and onagas too.

Mountain biking

Due to its lush sceneries, mountain biking is another activity you can enjoy when in Hawaii. Mountain biking becomes more exciting in Molokai. Because the streets are relatively peaceful and there’s so much space, mountain biking is a popular sport when in the island. There are more than fifty bike trails all over, which can provide you with amazing mountainscape and oceanscape vistas. There are a few shops that rent out mountain bikes for an affordable rate per day.


Of course, what’s a vacation without a few rounds of golf? Molokai has a couple of golf courses. These include the Kaluakoi Golf Course, which was designed by Ted Robinson, a master links designer. The course is set up amidst lush mountains and a nearby beach. It is a par 72 course. There are practice greens and a golf shop near the entrance.

Another option is the Ironwood Hills Golf Club, which is on the Kalae hills, near the Meyer Sugar Mill. It is a par 34 course and usually has little people traffic.

Horseback riding

Riding a horse is a quaint way to see Molokai and can be a lot of fun. However, there are only a few choices here. The most popular one is the Molokai Ranch, which rents out horses for rides around the ranch. Another is the Molokai Horse and Wagon Ride. This goes through a forty-nine acre mango farm. The second owners of the farm began this tradition a few years after the farm opened in the 1930s. Lastly, there’s the Pu’u O’Hoku Ranch, which has several horse tour options.

Of course, for the lack of more horseback options, you can choose a mule instead. The Molokai Mule Ride through the Kalaupapa town is world famous. It goes through the ancient town fortified by Father Damien’s selfless service to banished leper patients. The trail going to town is steep yet picturesque. In town, you can see several relics from Father Damien’s time.