Cycling Moloka‘i’s Less-Traveled Trails

Exploring Moloka‘i on two wheels, rather than four, encourages you to slow your pace and connect with the island’s rhythms.

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bicycling Molokai Hawaii

“The road cycling here is amazing,” he says. “Just be sure to start early, before the wind picks up—especially if you’re going toward Hālawa.” We attach a bike rack to my rental car, and I’m off to explore that classic eastern route.

Another popular Moloka‘i ride is the ten-mile climb from Kaunakakai to Pālā‘au State Park. In the first mile, when you’re still at sea level, you pedal right past 1,000 palms that were planted in the 1860s by order of King Kamehameha V. By the end of the ride, near the Kalaupapa overlook at 1,600 feet, you’re surrounded by cool, refreshing mist and are cycling amidst dense groves of ironwoods.

Or point your two wheels west, and ride down Maunaloa Highway. The twenty miles of rolling pavement will take you out to Pāpōhaku—Hawai‘i’s largest beach—and on toward smaller stretches of sand like Kapukahehu (known locally as “Dixie Maru Cove”), where the road ends.

Unless, of course, you’re mountain biking—because in that case, you’re just getting started.

On the day following my coastal ride I meet with Phillip to swap out the road bike for one with fatter tires. I’m eager to see some places that aren’t on most visitors’ radar because it takes four-wheel drive or old-fashioned leg power to get there.

It’s been raining recently, so tackling the mountain is out—at least for another day—and I opt instead to head west in search of small, hidden beaches that line the arid shore. Many of the trails here are just a few miles long, but the sense of adventure is bolstered by riding to stretches of sand where it’s virtually certain you’ll be the only one there.

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