Hawaii and Pacific: Hawaii - Moloka'i | Lush Rainforest, Hula & Cowboy Love
Despite the fact that hula was invented here, the world seems to spin a little slower on this charming island near the middle of the chain, thought by some to be the "most Hawaiian" of the Islands. Come here to rediscover the simple pleasures of exploration and conversation (called "talking story") under palm tree wind chimes. Speaking of palm trees, you won't see any buildings higher than a coconut palm tree (three stories), and traffic lights, honking horns, and car snarls are nonexistent.
When To Go: Molokai at its best
Best weather: Sunny, warm and low to mid-80s year-round, slightly rainy in winter.
Best prices: Mid-April to mid-December
Festival highlights: Beautiful leis blanket Hawaii for statewide Lei Day on May 1; Molokai Ka Hula Piko (a celebration of the birth of hula on Molokai) in May is a daylong event filled with hula shows, music, and storytellers; Aloha Festivals in September and October inspire street parties, music, dance, and craft shows to celebrate Hawaiian culture statewide.
What To Do
Water and land adventures: Check out the aquaculture at historical Kalokoeli Fishpond, an ingenious and indigenous method of trapping fish used by 13th-century Hawaiians. Hit the sand at gorgeous and relatively private three-mile-long Papohaku Beach on the island's west coast, the longest on the Hawaiian Islands. Then head up to the mountains. Hike or hop a mule down a steep, slender mountain path to the fascinating town of Kalaupapa National Historic Park, once a leprosy colony. The path runs three miles (with 26 switchbacks!) and takes about two hours by mule. Or tour Kamakou Preserve, a Hawaii Nature Conservancy rain-forest preserve on the slopes of Mt. Kamakou, Molokai's highest peak at 5,000 feet.
Homegrown goodies: Near the tiny town of Kualapuu in central Moloka'i, tour 500 acres of coffee plants in a mule-drawn wagon, learn how coffee is made, and shoot a few espressos at Coffees of Hawaii. For coffee connoisseurs, Molokai coffee may not have the same cachet as Kona, but it's just as good and half the price. And don't miss the nearby Plantation Store, which sells Molokai-made products such as bracelets and jewelry made from coconut shells and wiliwili seeds, jellies, jams, soaps, and pottery. Nearby is Purdy's Macadamia Nut Farm, where you can tour the farm and sample nuts straight from the shell.