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The Islands of Lanai and Molokai

The smaller islands of Lana'i and Moloka'i are best enjoyed on a day trip, but it is possible to stay on both. If you are staying in Maui there is a local ferry from Lahaina Harbour or you can hop on one of the frequent air service between all of the islands islands. A helicopter tour of Lanai and Molokai from Maui is also a popular option, allowing you to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of both islands.

Lanai Island

Visit Lana'i and you will discover an idyllic and romantic setting. With a population of only 3,000 people Lanai is, to all intents and purposes, a private island, with life revolving around the three main hotels: the two exclusive Four Seasons resorts at Manele Bay on the coast and the upcountry Lodge at Koele where you'll also find Hotel Lanai, an old Hawaiian country inn.

Life proceeds at a more gentle pace in Lanai and relaxation is the order of the day. A number of suppliers offer activities including horse back riding (a great way to explore), kayak tours, catamaran sailing trips to include scuba, snorkelling and deep sea angling.

It is a good spot for hiking but getting around the island can be difficult. There are few paved roads and local conditions vary greatly. Whether you plan to explore by car (with limited road access) or on foot, make sure to research your route thoroughly and find out from the locals what to expect.

The only town on Lanai is grandly named Lanai City and is right in the middle of the island in the cool upland area surrounded by trees. No more than a few blocks wide, Lanai City boasts a handful of shops, family restaurants and tin roofed residential homes around a pretty little park and it is certainly pleasant to have a wander around.

Molokai Island

Imagine what Hawaii looked like 50 years ago and you will get an idea of Moloka'i. Known as the most Hawaiian of the islands, thanks to nearly half its population being of native ancestry, Moloka'i has been able to preserve its rural lifestyle thanks to its love of the land, or aloha 'aina.

The island clings to tradition. Its small population prefers to live by raising crops, catching fish and adhering to the old ways. Molokai is the least commercial of all the islands. There is nothing fancy here, few roads and not even any traffic lights, just the basics. There are only two guesthouse-style hotels on the island, otherwise accommodation is limited to individually owned condominiums.

Consequently there are not many tourists, which is just the way some people like to travel. There are, however, many opportunities for a variety of activities on the island.

Some of the most popular on offer include mountain biking, snorkelling (the island's best spots are protected by its 32 miles of barrier reef), sports fishing, kayaking and horse or mule rides. Of course, you could just take it easy and relax with the locals in the capital, Kaunakakai.

If Molokai is of interest to you, Aloha Holidays suggests incorporating a day trip to your itinerary. This can be arranged for you in advance with your own hire car available on arrival or you can book a guided tour locally.

Molokai's Highlights

Kalaupapa Settlement - over a century ago a Belgian priest, Father Damien de Veuster, came to Kalaupapa to minister to those with Hansen's Disease (formerly called leprosy) in a 'forbidden' village on a peninsula isolated from the rest of Molokai by the highest sea cliffs in the world. Now incorporated into the Kalaupapa National Historical Park you can join the guided Molokai Mule Ride to explore the area. On the day tour you will experience one of Hawaii's most remarkable tours, in a community hidden from the world for so many years. You will learn about the leper colony, its people, incredible tales of struggle and human suffering, along with stories of courage and love. Damien became Hawaii's first Catholic saint on 11 October 2009, 120 years after his death from leprosy.

Papohaku Beach Park - at 3 miles long, one of the State's longest white sand beaches which rarely gets too crowded. A great picnic spot.

Photo credits: Aloha Holidays, HTA, Tor Johnson, HTA Japan