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Best Adventure Islands: Molokai
What makes the perfect island? Having it all to yourself. This adventure oasis is guaranteed to transport you well beyond the masses.
Text by Meg Lukens Noonan   Photograph by Steve Casimiro   Map by Pietari Posti 


Photo: Looking out on ocean


Read about 11 more top adventure isles in "12 Tickets to Paradise,"
in the February 2008 issue, on newsstands now. See Molokai photos >>



Molokai
Discover a Lost Hawaii

BASE CAMP: The Beach Village at Molokai Ranch

ACTIVITY: Hike and bike one of the state's least visited isles. 

It's not all cheap muumuus and mai tais here on the second smallest island in the Hawaiian chain, and that suits the few travelers who make the hour-and-a-half ferry crossing from Maui or the 20-minute flight from Oahu just fine. With deeply striated pali, or cliffs, at one end, rain forest in the mountainous middle, and arid scrub at the other, Molokai packs the best of Hawaii onto a compact, 38-mile-long (61-kilometer-long) playing field. Just one thing: To sample Molokai's delights, visitors need to roll up their shirtsleeves—exploration on this island requires more than flip-flops and shades.

Photo Gallery: Molokai   |  More Adventure Islands

Map: Molokai, Hawaii

GAME PLAN: Unpack your gear at the Beach Village at Molokai Ranch, 40 tented waterfront bungalows set on 65,000 acres (26,305 hectares) of former pineapple plantation. Rent mountain bikes from Molokai Fish & Dive, then head out on more than 40 miles (64 kilometers) of sunbaked singletrack. Don't miss the Keoki Trail, guide Darrell Labrado's favorite route. "It's four or five miles (six or eight kilometers) down an old cattle trail that starts out in soft dirt, then crosses a riverbed," he says. "There are lots of dropouts, S-curves—and great places to catch air."

You'll also want a day on the island's jungle-covered east side
to hike the Halawa Valley, where recently reopened trails lead to Moa'ula Falls, a double-tiered, 250-foot (76-meter) cascade. On the north coast, the Nature Conservancy oversees the Mo'omomi Preserve, a collection of 40-foot-high (12-meter-high) coastal dunes that makes for an ideal half-day excursion; or head to the koa and eucalyptus forests of Pala'au State Park. It's near the starting point for the 3.5-mile (6-kilometer), 26-switchback trail to Kalaupapa Preserve, the still active leper colony 1,600 feet (488 meters) below. For a local's take on dinner, stop in at the Kualapu'u Cook House (you'll know you've arrived when you see an old wagon out front). It is the place for chicken katsu, Japanese-style fried chicken. 
 
THE VITALS: The Beach Village at Molokai Ranch ($298; www.molokairanch.com). Molokai Fish & Dive rents bikes ($45; www.molokaifishanddive.com).
 
HOT TIP: Molokai is home to some of the best coffee in all of Hawaii. Be sure to swing by the Molokai Coffee Plantation, the state's oldest, to take a tour and pick up a few bags of vanilla-infused Island Princess coffee.

Photo Gallery: Molokai  |  More Adventure Islands

Wild Islands: 12 Tickets to Paradise

Aitutaki, Cook Islands Maldives
Eleuthera, Bahamas Molokai, Hawaii
Barbados Seychelles
Cayos Cochinos, Honduras St. Kitts
Guadeloupe Sumba, Indonesia
Isla Holbox, Mexico Vieques, Puerto Rico

All Adventure Islands

Cover: Adventure magazine




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