Difficult to access, but extraordinary to behold, Moomomi Beach is unlike any other coastal enclave you’ll visit in Hawaii. If you are eager to partake in a distinctive experience that delivers great photos, scientific knowledge, and bragging rights, this is essential for your itinerary.
Situated on the island of Molokai, this modest stretch of sand might not initially seem like a top prospect for a fun day at the beach. It’s attached to a small and decidedly rocky bay, in which swimming is best avoided. Facilities are all but nonexistent, so roughing it is part and parcel of this experience.
With so many caveats to this particular beach expedition, you might wonder: why go? The answer is simple: unparalleled views of jaw-dropping sand dunes that have been formed over multiple centuries and are carefully protected to this day. What’s more, the very challenges that make this beach so tough to access keep many potential visitors away, so you are likely to enjoy a secluded and very meaningful experience.
The Nature Conservancy refers to Moomomi Beach as “a last stronghold of a major Hawaiian coastal ecosystem” and a “holdover from an ancient era.” The vast dunes that initially seem barren are actually chock full of rare plant species that have become increasingly difficult to find on the Hawaiian islands. The dunes and the shoreline also welcome a variety of native shorebirds, as well as Hawaiian owls and green sea turtles.
The rich plant life will quickly become evident as you gaze at the dunes. As you observe these plants, keep in mind that some can only be found along these dunes and near the preserve. A lovely flower known as the enaena, for example, is endangered and thus, almost impossible to view anywhere else. Meanwhile, the prominent naupaka stabilizes the dune, with its floating fruits carried away by the current until they arrive at tropical islands far away.
Other rarities at these dunes may provide valuable insight into climate change and the impact of deforestation. Bleached snail shells, for example, reveal that this island once had a far wetter climate, complete with heavy, jungle-like forests.
If all this sounds intriguing and you’re up for an adventure, be prepared to embark on a long hiking expedition or a potentially treacherous journey involving four-wheel drive. Each approach has its own unique challenges. The hike is tough but gorgeous — and you don’t need to worry about parking. You’ll free up some time with the right vehicle, but you’ll only be allowed to park in designated areas. These can be surprisingly difficult to find.
No matter how you arrive, you’ll initially be taken aback by the view. This can be tough to focus on at times, however, as the wind can be so distracting. The gusts are undeniably powerful, but you’ll get used to them after a time.
Moomomi Beach and its remarkable dunes provide powerful proof that the best attractions on the island of Molokai take effort to access and appreciate. With that effort, however, comes an educational experience you won’t quickly forget.
Set aside a day to visit this pristine setting. You might not spend your time swimming or sunbathing, and there are no lifeguards, but you’ll emerge with a greater understanding of Molokai’s environment and history. You’ll also gain a desire to help preserve this setting and all the plants and animals that call it home.
-Given the inherent vulnerability of Moomomi Beach and the numerous rare species found there, it is absolutely crucial that you respect your surroundings while visiting. This means remaining on the marked paths at all times and following all rules.
-If possible, consider participating in a guided tour from The Nature Conservancy. Hosted monthly, these tours give you a far greater understanding of all that makes Moomomi Beach special. Call or email TNC’s Molokai field office for more information.