For many travelers, the island of Molokai is a tranquil time portal to a simple, bygone era. A warm weather outpost where smiles and shakas replace the honking of horns, and you’re much more likely to find kanikapila (musical) jam sessions than meetings of the executive board.
For as much as the island is a social time portal, it’s also a portal to a time when the island first bubbled up out of the sea. At spots like the Kamakou Preserve, lucky hikers can weave their way through a lush, multi-hued theater of green that looks the same now as did before humans arrived on the palm-lined shores. Or, at windswept Mo’omomi Preserve on the island’s northern coast, travelers can scour a section of shore where coastal dunes help an ancient ecosystem cling to modern survival.
Administered by The Nature Conservancy, the Kamakou Preserve is only accessible by 4WD and a brazen, highly skilled driver. Roads up here are a maelstrom of potholes all carved from the reddish brown earth, and the rainforest trails are so muddy and wet they’re only accessible by boardwalk. As you can imagine, accessing a place so exceptionally remote is tough for the casual traveler, so the best way to visit is via a guided hike arranged through The Nature Conservancy.
On one weekend per month from March-October, the Nature Conservancy leads guided hikes through misty Pepe’opae Bog—allowing travelers to find biodiversity unlike anywhere else in the islands. Listen as expert, volunteer docents explain the sights of the forest, from Happy Face spiders hiding beneath leaves and crawling their way through ferns, to 230 species of plants that are native to Molokai’s peaks. Once deep in the Bog, close your eyes and gently listen to an endangered natural symphony, where endemic, bright green ‘amakihi chirp as they flit between trees, and a bass line forms from the rhythmic sound of raindrops falling on leaves.
Best of all, The Nature Conservancy provides transportation to the rugged recess of the mountain, and since space on the hike is highly limited, advance reservations are an absolute must for this journey back in time.
For more information on guided hikes with The Nature Conservancy on Molokai, click here for a schedule of events, or call the Molokai Field Office at (808) 553-5236.