When was the last time you saw a place that’s barely been touched by man? Vertical cliff faces—laden with ferns—that look the same now as they did before humans arrived here centuries ago?
This is the case on much of Molokai’s famously rugged north shore, where sea cliffs rise up nearly 4,000 feet from royal blue waters below. It’s a place where waterfalls, narrow and strong, carve rivulets down the mountain, and home to dozens of species of plants found nowhere else in the world. At the jagged summit of Kamakou, nearly 5,000 ft. above sea level, blue-sky mornings slowly fade to fog-filled afternoons—though before the clouds consume the trees and hover above the Bog, your plane, helicopter, or flightseeing tour swoops in for one last view.
For all of Molokai’s many adventures and activities back on land, seeing the island from up in the air is a moment you’ll never forget. Circle high above Kalaupapa and watch the crashing surf, wondering how people ever survived on a sprig of land so remote.
Crane your neck looking up out the window at a multi-tiered, cascading waterfall, and view the fringing, 28-mile reef off Molokai’s southern coast. In winter, when the Pailolo Channel fills with pods of migrating Humpback whales, the spouting shadows appear as ships passing slowly beneath your feet.
To experience the dramatic, tropical scenery, book a seat on a helicopter tour from Kahului heliport in Maui, with Air Maui and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters both offering Molokai tours. Often combined with tours of West Maui, the flights soar over Halawa Valley before swooping down towards the cliffs. Or, when flying to Molokai from Honolulu aboard Makani Air, gaze upon the empty beaches ringing the western coast, where the three-mile stretch of Papohaku embraces the sea below. Even aboard the commercial flights from Maui or Honolulu, the view you’ll get from the window is worthy of packing a camera—since Molokai’s stunning, incomparable beauty is put on display and placed at your feet before you’ve even touched down.