Moloka‘i is gloriously free of resorts, and no building on the island is taller than a palm tree. The closest thing you’ll find to a resort is laid-back Hotel Moloka‘i, which has a concierge, an oceanfront restaurant, a bar, and daily maid service. Most of the island’s accommodations are condos, and both Moloka‘i Vacation Properties (808/553-8334) and Friendly Isle Realty (808/553-3666) have a wide selection of options. Like elsewhere in the islands, check VRBO for deals on privately owned condos.
Accommodations in West Moloka‘i
Staying in West Moloka‘i means you’re really far from everything—except beaches and sunsets. The weather has a tendency to be drier, but it’s a 25-minute drive to Kaunakakai and the closest restaurant or gas. While the abandoned Sheraton complex is endlessly creepy, there are still a large number of condo units in the surrounding vicinity of Kaluakoi, as well as a handful of privately owned condos that are closer to Dixie Maru Beach.
One of the largest complexes in West Moloka‘i is the Ke Nani Kai (50 Kepuhi Pl., 800/490-9042, $100-200), an expansive complex that has a swimming pool, one- and two-bedroom units, and affordable rates.
Closer to the beach, the Paniolo Hale offers similar accommodations just steps from the shore. Units here rent for $110-225 per night with a two- to three-night minimum, although some units have longer minimum stays.
Accommodations in Central Moloka‘i
Refreshingly basic and in the nontouristy cool uplands of Kala‘e, near the Kualapu‘u Coffee Farms and Kalaupapa Peninsula, Hale Manu Guesthouse (808/567-9136, cash only) is a small, relaxed place with two guest rooms ($55) and a small cottage ($80). Guest rooms share a bath, and all rooms have access to a full kitchen in the main house. Discounts are available for longer stays.
Near Kaunakakai, Hotel Moloka‘i (808/660-3408, $175-250) is on the water and offers A-frame rooms in a resort-style setting, with a swimming pool, activities desk, included Wi-Fi, and live entertainment every night. The rooms, refurbished numerous times, have fridges and microwaves. This is a convenient, comfortable, and relaxing option. Rates vary by room size and season, and it’s home to the island’s only oceanfront restaurant and bar.
Near Kaunakakai, the Molokai Shores (1 and 2 bedrooms $190-250) is a condominium complex on a tiny sliver of a beach with a large number of individually owned units as well as others managed by Castle Resorts (808/553-5944). The three-story complex has a large open courtyard with barbecue facilities and a swimming pool. The trade winds here are strong in the afternoon, and the swimming out front is marginal, but this is a convenient option toward the center of the island.
Accommodations in East Moloka‘i
Along this eastern section of the island are the bulk of its vacation rentals, cottages, and B&Bs. Afternoons are punctuated by brisk trade winds, and the setting is more tropical than arid West Moloka‘i.
Ka Hale Mala (808/553-9009, $80, with breakfast $90, cash only) is less than five miles east of Kaunakakai on Kamakana Place, on the ground floor of a family house set amid a tropical garden. There is a large living room, a full kitchen, a full bath, a separate bedroom, and a laundry room, plus use of snorkel gear.
The largest condo on the east end of the island is the Wavecrest Resort (808/558-8101, $100-200), at mile marker 13, with individually owned units. General amenities include a swimming pool, a tennis court, laundry facilities, and a nicely manicured five-acre setting. One- and two-bedroom units have full kitchens and look across the Pailolo Channel toward Maui. There is a front desk (7:30am-1:30pm Mon.-Fri.).
The two neat and trim two-bedroom Dunbar Beachfront Cottages (808/558-8153, cash only) are on a secluded section of beach, each with a full kitchen, living room, laundry, and deck. These are quiet surroundings but you still have TV and free Wi-Fi. Cottages can sleep up to four. Rates are $190 with a three-night minimum, plus an $85 cleaning fee.
Also near Waialua is the Molokai Beach House (808/261-2500), a three-bedroom, two-bath oceanfront home with all amenities. There is a large yard with a picnic table on the ocean side, and inside is a big living room, a full kitchen, and a laundry room. The house sleeps up to six. Rates are $250 with a three-night minimum, or $1,600 per week, with a $125 cleaning fee.
At the far eastern end of the island high on the eastern hillside sits 14,000-acre Pu‘u O Hoku Ranch (808/558-8109). The lodge and three cottages are some of the best and remotest on the island. This is a working ranch that’s minutes away from the shore at Halawa Bay. Wi-Fi is available in a few spots, but most accommodations are “unplugged.” Check in at the ranch office along the highway at mile marker 25, where there is a small sundries store that sells basic food and gift items.
The two-bedroom Sunrise Cottage ($225) has a full kitchen and a covered lanai and sleeps up to four. The larger, four-bedroom Grove Cottage ($300 for 4, plus $30 pp additional guests) can sleep up to eight. From this cottage there are ocean views to Maui with amazing whale-watching in winter. Five miles closer to Kaunakakai along the main highway, the one-bedroom Sugar Mill cottage ($200) sleeps four, has a full kitchen, and is walking distance from one of the island’s nicest beaches.
Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Maui.