Papohaku beach, island of Molokai, Hawaii.

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Papohaku Beach

Top choice in Moloka'i

The light-hued sands of Papohaku Beach run for an astounding 2.5 miles. Come here for the solitude – the sand is soft and you can often stroll from one end to the other without seeing another soul. Offshore, Third Hole is one of the island's most challenging surf breaks. Do not swim here: there's a tangle of undertow and unpredictable currents. And there's no easy shade. You can bring an umbrella, but the often strong winds may send it Oʻahu bound.

Those same breezes kick up the fine sand, which can sting on blustery days.

There are seven turnoffs from Kalua Koi Rd that access the beach and have parking. The first leads to Papohaku Beach Park, a grassy place with picnic facilities under gnarled ironwood and kiawe trees. Bathroom and shower facilities are a little primitive (stalls have no doors).

You can camp here (contact the Moloka'i Parks Office for a permit on 808-553-3204) to the left of the restrooms as you face them from the parking lot; the 'no camping' sign only applies to the area to the right. (Be sure to read the signs that explain which areas are soaked by the automatic sprinklers on which days.) There are seldom any other campers here, and the view of the stars at night and the sound of the surf are mesmerizing. However, rowdy folks occasionally appear. Guards are meant to check permits.

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