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Travel

Staycation: Molokai Getaway

Just a 30-minute flight from Honolulu, Molokai is a small, rural island. It's only 38 miles long, 10 miles across at its widest, and it's gorgeous. Majestic sea cliffs on its remote, northern end are the tallest in the world at 3,315 feet, and the island has the world's longest, continuous fringing reef, meaning that it grows close to shore.

Nicknamed “The Friendly Isle," this is the place to visit when you want to get away from shopping malls and traffic, and spend time in a peaceful, unhurried Hawaii, where you'll see plenty of ocean views, unobstructed by high rise buildings. You won't find a single traffic light on the island.

What you will find is Hawaii's longest white sand beach, with its turquoise water—the three-mile-long, never crowded Papohaku Beach. You'll also find a world of history within Kalaupapa National Historical Park, which is accessible by mule ride or a strenuous hike, and everywhere you go, glimpses of an older Hawaii lifestyle that continues to thrive.

Where to Stay

Molokai Shores is a condo hotel on the shoreline at Kaunakakai, the island's largest town. The hotel has 17 rooms spread among three floors. It's a scenic spot with mountains on one side, and on the other a pool sits in a grove of palms, with the wide blue sea stretching out just beyond. The resort is just a 15-minute drive from the airport and is a great choice for a family that wants to settle in, spread out, and cook some meals during their stay. Each unit has a kitchen and outside amenities include barbecue grills, a picnic area and a pool. All the rooms also have separate sitting areas and private balconies.

Where to Eat

Molokai Burger, located at mile marker zero in Kaunakakai, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, and is the island's only drive-thru restaurant. This is where to get a fresh breakfast sandwich on an English muffin or maybe an adobo omelet, and a good burger and fries (or sweet potato fries) for lunch. For dinner, you might choose a fried chicken box meal, Ramen burger, or a salad or garden burger. You can eat inside where there's air conditioning or take in the fresh air at an outside table. Or drive through when you're going holoholo and pick up some lumpia to eat along the way.

Where to Adventure

Getting out on the water during your Molokai vacation means being able to look back at lush green coastline and beautiful folds of sharp island peaks rising from the sea. Captain T Charters takes passengers to the right spots for watching migrating humpback whales during winter whale season. They also offer deep-sea fishing excursions, snorkeling tours to a biodiversity wonderland at Hawaii's largest barrier reef, as well as sunset cruises and tours around the island.

Where to Shop

When you pick up your groceries or snacks at Kaunakakai's Friendly Market, you can feel good about supporting a long-time local business. The Egusa family opened Friendly Market in 1953, and back then they not only delivered, but would go into houses and put groceries right inside the refrigerator. Last year when the family retired, they sold the market to the Okimotos, another grocery family that has long operated markets on Oahu (Waianae Store and Nanakuli Super), and often vacationed on Molokai. The new owners have kept the same employees and same local feel. In addition to the usual groceries, Friendly Market carries a selection of locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Discover our full list of must-see places to sleep, eat, adventure and shop below!

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