Kamakou Preserve

Top choice in Moloka'i

Hiking back through three million years of evolution on the Pepeʻopae Trail is Kamakou’s star attraction. Crossed by a boardwalk, this undisturbed Hawaiian montane bog is a miniature primeval forest of stunted trees, dwarf plants and lichens that make it feel as though it’s the dawn of time. From the trail’s end at Pelekunu Valley Overlook, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of majestic cliffs, and, if it’s not too cloudy, you’ll see the ocean beyond.

To reach Kamakou Preserve, follow the 4WD road from near the Homelani Cemetery sign on Rte 460/Maunaloa Hwy. To a reach the Pepeʻopae Trail from Waikolu Lookout, follow Kamakou’s main 4WD road 2.5 miles to the marked trailhead; this makes a nice hour-long forest walk in itself.

A great way to see Kamakou is by joining one of the hikes led by the Nature Conservancy (usually once a month on a Friday – email ahead to check dates). Transportation is provided to and from the preserve.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Moloka'i attractions

2. Molokaʻi Forest Reserve

1.73 MILES

The 10-mile 4WD drive up to Waikolu Lookout takes about 45 minutes (follow the dirt path near the Homelani Cemetery sign on Rte 460/ Maunaloa Hwy. Road…

3. Waikolu Lookout

3.95 MILES

At 3600ft, Waikolu Lookout provides a breathtaking view into the steep Waikolu Valley and out to the ocean beyond. After rains, the white strands of…

4. Sandalwood Pit

4.85 MILES

A grassy depression on the left side of the road in Molokaʻi Forest Reserve marks the centuries-old Sandalwood Pit. In the early 19th century, shortly…

5. Smith-Bronte Landing

5.28 MILES

Just over three-quarters of a mile after mile marker 11, a small sign on the makai (seaward) side of the road notes the Smith-Bronte Landing, the site…

6. St Joseph’s Church

5.37 MILES

Only two of the four Moloka‘i churches that missionary saint Father Damien (who selflessly comforted leprosy patients for 16 years) built outside the…

7. ʻUalapuʻe Fishpond

5.64 MILES

Half a mile beyond the Wavecrest Resort condo development, at mile marker 13, you'll spot ʻUalapuʻe Fishpond on the makai (seaward) side of the road. This…

8. Our Lady of Seven Sorrows

5.83 MILES

The present Our Lady of Seven Sorrows is a 1966 reconstruction of the original wood-frame church constructed in 1874 by Hawaii's first saint, Father…