Monday, December 11, 2023

Exploring Molokai: How to Have a Green Road Trip on Hawaii’s Most Laid-Back Island


Can’t decide between a Hawaiian vacation or a road trip? On Molokai, you get both.

An Outlook for Sustainable Tourism in 2023 found that travelers are becoming more conscious about reducing their carbon footprint and preserving the environment. One method they’re adopting to do this is by going on a green road trip. This involves incorporating environmentally friendly practices and habits while traveling.

For those who want to go on a green road trip, Molokai is a picturesque island located in the Hawaiian archipelago. This island is considered the “most Hawaiian Island” for a few key reasons. Aside from the fact that it’s home to numerous historic spots, a large percentage of the population is also of native Hawaiian descent — and it is of note that locals wish to keep it that way.

With only one small hotel and a few restaurants, Molokai is the island least visited by tourists. However, for those who enjoy going off the beaten path, Molokai is a more than ideal visit. Looking to explore it on a green road trip for an authentic Hawaiian getaway? Here are a few tips you can try:

Have a well-planned itinerary

One of the notable characteristics of Molokai is its commitment to preserving its natural resources. The island’s topography includes lush valleys, pristine beaches, and towering sea cliffs, and residents make significant efforts to promote sustainable tourism. For instance, the Molokai Land Trust ensures the long-term preservation of ecologically important lands by actively acquiring and protecting them. That’s why Molokai does not have an extensive road structure. Though this makes it ideal for exploring the island by car, it also means you’re better off researching and mapping out all the places you want to visit. That way, you can see as much of the island as possible using a route that doesn’t disrupt local preservation efforts.

Molokai coast
Molokai coastline | Courtesy Travel Molokai

You can make the most of your trip by exploring the trail, going up to Halawa Valley Lookout, relaxing on the white sand at Papohaku Beach, and learning more about Molokai’s history at Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Visiting these places will help you understand the importance of preserving Molokai’s ecological heritage. By exploring the diverse landscapes through green road trips and observing the rich biodiversity, tourists will be able to see natural elements unique to Molokai, emphasizing the need for their preservation.

Rent an electric vehicle

When visiting Molokai, it quickly becomes evident that sustainability and preservation of the island’s delicate ecosystem are priorities for its residents. As a tourist, you can contribute to this effort by utilizing an electric vehicle (EV) during your road trip. Since they don’t use fossil fuels like diesel or petrol, they don’t emit carbon like regular cars. This makes them perfect for driving around Molokai without harming the local environment.

tesla evs
EVs make road trips eco-friendly | Courtesy Tesla

EVs are among the many car rentals in Molokai. From the Chevrolet Bolt and the Hyundai Kona Electric to the larger Tesla Model X SUV, there is a healthy range of EVs to suit travelers’ needs and preferences. All you need to book one is a valid driver’s license, a credit card, and proof of insurance. There are also multiple charging stations placed around the island you can use throughout your road trip. Just remember to follow charging etiquette when using these public charging stations, including not skipping lines, parking at the correct plug, and never unplugging another charging vehicle. This will make the green road trip experience a pleasant one for everyone wishing to respectfully explore Molokai using an EV.

Be familiar with local customs

Another vital aspect of your road trip to Molokai is to familiarize yourself with local customs and respect the island’s unique culture, which includes their dedication to preserving their environment. Molokai is known as the “Friendly Isle” due to the kindness and hospitality of its residents. Engage in conversations with the locals, taste traditional cuisine, and participate in cultural activities like hula dancing or imu underground oven ceremonies.

flower on the beach
Photo courtesy Emily Shirron

Take the time to understand the traditions and customs of the local community, especially when it comes to following etiquette at the beaches, parks, and other public places you visit on your road trip. This includes cleaning up after yourself and disposing of trash in designated bins, utilizing reusable water bottles and other utensils instead of single-use plastics, and not smoking as you drive and at the places you stop by.

Immerse yourself in the island’s locality while still maintaining mindfulness when it comes to your actions and practices. This way, you can further enhance the effects of your green road trip and contribute to preserving Molokai’s environment.

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