Compared to the other main Hawaiian Islands, Moloka'i gets relatively few visitors. Since the closing of the Kaluakoi Resort hotel and golf course in 2001 and the Moloka'i Ranch Lodge in 2008, there have been limited lodgings available, the principal one being the Hotel Moloka'i, now being managed by Aqua Hotels & Resorts. Just because there may not be as many visitors does not mean that there are not lots of things to see and do, many of which are free or cost very little.
Let's take a look at some of the free, or almost free things to do on the island of Molaka'i.
You can stop by Coffees of Hawaii in Kualapu'u on Sundays to visit their Plantation Gift Shop and Espresso Bar and Café. While there you can enjoy some great local music by Na Ohana Hoaloha (family of friends) from 4-6:00 p.m. This musical group of Moloka'i kupuna formerly performed at the Moloka'i Ranch and moved over to Coffees of Hawaii following the closure of the ranch. Coffees of Hawaii's Moloka'i Plantation is located in the town of Kualapu'u on the Farrington Highway. For more information call 877-322-3276.
Every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. till noon you can wander through the Kaunakakai Town Farmers Market on Alamalma Street. While admission is free, you're sure to spend a bit of money when you see the fresh local fruits and vegetables, beautiful flowers, and original crafts made by Moloka'i artisans.
Kualapu'u Cookhouse Jam Sessions
Considered on the best places to eat on Moloka'i. the Kualapu'u Cookhouse has free Hawaiian music jam sessions every Thursday from 5:30-8:00 p.m. I guarantee you won't leave here without sampling some of the local style meals. On Thursdays their special prime rib is on the menu. Just check out their excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Kualapu'u Cookhouse is a BYOB establishment, so bring your own wine or beer. They are located in Kualapu'u at Farrington Road and Uwao Street. For more information call 808-567-9655.
Every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. visitors can explore acres of organic herb and vegetable gardens, walk through endless rows of banana and papaya trees and taste some of best produce in Hawaii. In addition, free culinary tips are provided. The farm is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Kumu Farms is located 5 minutes from the Moloka'i Airport. Heading west on Maunaloa Highway, continue 1 mile and turn left on Hua Ai Road. Kumu Farms is 1 mile down on the right. For more information call 808-351-3326.
If you're on Moloka'i in early May be sure to plan to attend this three day festival which culminates on Saturday with an all day Ho'olaule'a at Papohaku Beach Park. The festival celebrates the birth of hula on Moloka'i and is held to educate and enlighten all people of things Hawaiian through ancient Hawaiian chant and dance of Moloka'i. The Saturday event is filled with Hawaiian and local craft booths, great food, door prizes, a silent auction and, above all else, entertainment by various Moloka'i groups and hula halau.
For over 30 years Tuddie and Kammy Purdy have been welcoming visitors to Moloka'i to their 5-acre, all natural macadamia nut farm. Many visitors to Hawaii have no idea how macadamia nuts are grown, harvested and processed for sale. The Purdy's offer free tours of their farm Monday - Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tour hours vary and some Saturday tours are also available. The tours include hands-on demonstrations and free samples. You'll be surprised how much you enjoy these unsalted raw or naturally roasted macadamia nuts. Purdy's is located 2 miles west of Kualapu'u on Lihi Pali Avenue, above the Moloka'i High School. For more information call 808-567-6601.
One of my favorite things to do on Moloka'i costs nothing more than the gas you need to put in your rental car's tank. Take a drive around the island. One of my favorite drives is the drive through East Moloka'i on the Kamehameha V Highway from Kamalo, the location of St. Joseph's Church which was built by St. Damien in 1876 to the historic and culturally important Halawa Valley. Your drive begins about 11 miles east of the town of Kaunakakai, but I actually find it easiest to drive all the way to end of the road at Halawa Beach Park and work my way back towards the center of the island. By doing this you can best gauge your time, since there will be many places where you'll want to stop and explore the sites.
Every Friday afternoon from 4-6:00 p.m., the Hula Shores Bar located within the Hotel Moloka'i offers free entertainment featuring Na Kupuna Kanikapila, a group of ukulele-playing tutu or kupuna (esteemed elders) who sing in a local style called kanikapila. Once renovations to the Hula Shores Restaurant are completed following a fire in 2012, it is assumed that the performance will return to the retauranant where guests can also enjoy food which includes local seafood, teriyaki steak, and what are generally considered some of the best coconut shrimp in Hawaii. Call 808-553-5347 for more information.