So far we’ve covered the middle section of Molokai. Today I’m taking you all the way west on road 460 to the very tip of the island. Buckle up and hang on because the pavement ends at the old plantation town of Maunaloa but we get on a rough washed out dirt road with the rental car (big no no) and get all the way to Hale O Lono Harbor. This is a man made harbor complete with concrete wharf, well what’s left of it anyway. The place is derelict but the harbor still is nice and calm and protected from the ocean breakers outside the breakwater. The country here is dry and covered with mixed grass land and scrubby mesquite trees. This harbor is where the annual canoe races across the channel to Oahu begin, women’s in September and men’s in October I believe. The dirt road continues along the coast to a few more beaches but I had already pushed my luck with the rental car so returned to Maunaloa and the pavement.
Maunaloa is small and not much is there except some houses, a school, post office, general store and a closed movie theater, a closed tourist lodge, a derelict nursery probably left over from the pineapple plantation days and the world famous Kite store. Be sure to stop here to see an amazing kite selection plus stuff for sale that the owner has collected from around the world. Dole closed down pineapple operations back in 1975. The Molokai Ranch owns a big share of this end of the island. Besides raising cattle they tried to get into the tourist business years ago but that flopped. Hence the big closed lodge in town. They also have a rodeo arena on the town outskirts. I don’t know if they might still offer mountain biking on all the trails across the ranch or not. Anyway there are locked gates all over so you need to get permission to enter for whatever you want to go see. This whole west end is lower and drier than the east end of the island. It was formed by a separate volcano.
Back down 460 a couple miles is the turnoff to Kepuhi. This road takes you through Kaluakoi resort area. It features some condos, a derelict hotel and a bunch of high priced private homes scattered through the hills and above the beaches. The water mains are in and the roads are paved so come on down and grab your own ten or fifteen acre plot of Molokai for your dream home. You might have noticed a common theme by now. Molokai does not cater to tourists and most efforts to develop tourist facilities have gone kaput. The people are very friendly and if you want to come here and live like the locals do without all the fancy resort trappings then this is your island. If not then stick to Oahu or Maui.
Okay now here is the best part of the west end. The beaches! Dixie Maru is at the end of the paved road. It is a pretty sand beach that is protected from the ocean swells and the swimming is great, snorkeling is OK, and hardly any people will be here. If you want even more seclusion then hike further down the coast to Kaupoa beach. If you want to experience the longest, widest, most sandy beach then stop at Papohaku beach. It isn’t too far from the condos but there won’t be many people here either. Sand was taken from here to rebuild Wakiki beach as late as the 1970’s. You need to walk a few hundred yards from the parking area to get to the beach. There are a bunch of turkeys wandering all over the mesquite forest along the way. Then the sand is deep and you will sink up to your ankles. The surf here is wild. Swimming is not advised and the wind will probably be blowing but even still this is a beautiful beach. The sand here doesn’t pack down so you will probably still sink in even where it is wet. I found a spot that the waves crashed over and I still sunk in to my knees. Okay it was just that one section of beach and this beach is about two miles long and there are bathrooms and a shower at the park by the parking area. Somebody needs to flush the toilet though.
This about takes care of the west end. Hop in your car and head back east on 460. Way back to Kaunakakai town road 460 ends at the wharf. Road 450 continues through town and goes mostly along the coast for another 28 miles clear to the east end of the island. We will go there in the next article.