Lanai and Molokai: Hawaii’s lesser known gems
The smaller island of Lanai in Hawaii has only 3,200 inhabitants but is widely known as the ‘Pineapple Island’ for its historical industry. Its final pineapple was harvested in 1992 but that legacy lives on. Lanai Island divides into two distinct parts – luxury resort tourism and low-key escapism. In the south, five-star resorts and golf courses dominate an idyllic honeymoon destination with sunsets over Hulopoe Bay, dolphin cruises around Manele Bay, and hikes to Puu Pehe.
In contrast, head north for a more active adventure, where 643 kilometres of Lanai’s roads are dirt track, accessible only by 4x4 vehicles. Lanai is also famed for its sea cliffs, not as high as those of Molokai, but dramatic and disconcerting nevertheless.
Molokai is an island of discovery and delight, unfrequented by most tourists to Hawaii. There are few resorts and amenities, but Molokai is nature undiscovered and a step back in time to the ‘old Hawaii’. The residents, numbering around 7,500, are mostly native Hawaiian and have a strong affiliation to the area’s heritage and history. There is no traffic, congestion or pollution but secluded beaches and ancient Hawaiian fishponds. Kalaupapa National Historical Park is only accessible by mule or on foot, but it’s worth a visit to understand its history and see its flora and fauna such as monk seal, humpback whale, and green sea turtle.
Molokini is a small, crescent moon-shaped island between Maui and Kahoʻolawe. This beautiful island and volcanic crater spans over seven hectares and rises 49 metres above reef-filled waters. It is an idyllic spot for snorkelling and diving and most of the island’s 1,000 daily visitors come to explore its underwater world. As a State Marine Life and Bird Conservation District, there is plenty of exciting fauna and flora to see. Expect to see a veritable kaleidoscope of coral and more than 250 species of tropical fish, as well turtle, manta ray and white-tipped reef shark. Molokini is at its best when the sea is calm and clear, usually in the morning. You’ll see more at this time whether you are snorkelling or diving, making any time here very well spent.