Base Camp Hawaii

Molokai Kayaking
By Carol Greenhouse
Halwa Bay
Halawa Bay, your Molokai start point (Photo © Kirk Aeder)

GPS Adventure Coordinates:
The North Shore, Molokai

Primary Objective:
Kayaking the island's undeveloped North Shore from east to west over five altogether memorable days (ten-mph winds make the return too hairy for most; as it is, outfitter Molokai Fish and Dive doesn't advertise the trip). Lounging for two more days at the beachfront campsite at voyage's end. Camping alone each night on beaches only accessible by sea (consult a lunar calendar before booking and shoot to time your trip with a full moon). Staying the night at an unoccupied beach home owned by residents of the historic Kalaupapa Leprosy Colony, and, in the morning, taking a tour of the town where the victims of this no-longer-contagious disease were cruelly exiled in 1866.

Secondary Objectives:
Riding the island's premier singletrack, the Naewa Sea Cliff Trail, a five-hour odyssey with a 2,000-foot ascent to the world's highest sea cliffs. Getting lost on Molokai Ranch's other 80-plus miles of cycling terrain. Backpacking the legendary (read: rugged, precipitous, eternally overgrown) Wailau Trail with a Molokai Fish and Dive (MFD) guide; setting up camp on Wailau Beach at trek's end.

Base Camp:
Pound the tent stakes into Hawaii's longest white-sand beach, Papohaku Beach Park, a civilized place with restrooms, outdoor showers, grills, and picnic tables. Camping permits are $3 a night; to get one, call the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation at 808-553-3204.

Practical Knowledge:
The five-day unguided odyssey is restricted to summertime, when seas are flat to two feet; even then, intermediate or advanced paddlers only need apply. Fly into Molokai (Hoolehua) Airport; MFD (; 808-553-5926) transports parties from the airport to the put-in at Halawa Valley and from Papohaku Beach back to the 'port for $300 (a word to the budget-conscious: Ask for a deal).

Gear List:
Double scuppers can be rented from MFD for $199 for five days, less out of season and for the good bargainer. This year-old remake of a sleepy local business also sells camping equipment and reef shoes, de rigueur for the Wailau Trail. Molokai Ranch (; 808-552-2741) rents hard-tail bikes for $30 a day.

Published: 25 Aug 2003 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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