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7 amazing islands for eco-tourists

By: Josh Lew on Sept. 13, 2012, 6:08 p.m.
Molokai mountains

Photo: BrentDPayne/Flickr

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Molokai, Hawaii

Molokai (traditionally spelled Moloka'i) is one of the least visited of Hawaii's islands. A portion of the island was once home to a leper colony, where some residents have chosen to remain to this day. Now, Molokai is a natural paradise that residents have sought to preserve and protect from the type of tourism development found on the state's more-visited islands. This is a land of isolated beaches, scenic mountain trails, and tropical fruit orchards. The efforts to create a sustainable tourism environment while also championing traditional culture and way of life have earned Molokai recognition from the likes of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations.


A plateau rising to more than 4,000 feet above sea level is partially protected by the Molokai Forest Preserve. Other preserves protect the mountainous interior, making this a great destination for extended hikes, some of which can be quite challenging because of their changes in altitude. Endemic species, including the unique wingless fly, are found on Molokai, as are an assortment of native florae seen in few other places in Polynesia.