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“Affordable Way to See Beautiful Molokai”

Maui / Molokai Ferry
Ranked #67 of 125 things to do in Lahaina
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Attraction details
Owner description: Ferry service connecting travelers from Kaunakakai Wharf in Moloka'i, to Lahaina Harbor in Maui, since 1987. For the past 28 years, the Molokai ferry has taken passengers from Lahaina to Kaunakakai. The Moloka'i Ferry is a treasure and lifeline to the residents and visitors of Maui and Moloka'i.
Reviewed May 6, 2013

My family and I took the Molokai Princess to and from Maui during whale season, and were delighted with all the breaches, not to mention glimpses of schools of flying fish. We found the rates very affordable, especially considering the alternative. The weather was good, and the water was calm, and so seasickness was not an issue.

To consider: there are no amenities besides a coffee pot full of caffeinated sludge. Bring snacks, drinks and ginger candies or your favorite motion sickness potion. The staff is helpful, when asked, but is otherwise not attentive to passengers.

We understood we were not boarding the QE2, and enjoyed a beautiful, no-frills ride to and from Molokai. Renting a car on Molokai? A totally different story...

4  Thank Candy_Bennett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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92 - 96 of 123 reviews

Reviewed March 8, 2013

We have been coming to Maui for decades, but never visited the island of Molokai, one of two islands nearby to Maui and part of Maui County. So this trip, we finally pulled the trigger and booked the ferry/drive tour where for one price, you get a ferry ride to and from Molokai and a rental car to see the island for the day. On balance, it turned out to be a bad decision, but there were some worthwhile things to see. The tour is shown as Adventure Options Molokai Cruise/Car Molokai Package running about $360 for the whole deal.

Let's start out with the ferry. The ride across the channel from Lahaina usually takes about 90 minutes, and we chose a very sunny, and not too windy day to go. However, about 45 minutes out, the seas were pretty rough and the boat really rocks and rolls. I don't blame the ferry for the conditions, but warn anyone who is subject to sea sickness, take something first! You can't stay on the open air second floor deck area because you get pelted with ocean spray and will get really wet. The main cabin has a coffee pot, but they offer nothing else (no food or drinks or even water). However when you check in at Lahaina, they give you what they call a "continental breakfast" container with just a muffin and a few bites of fruit. Better eat breakfast first! The ferry itself is a bit long in the tooth, with comfortable, but odd looking grayhound bus seats. They should really spend some money sprucing up the boat as it is a bit long in the tooth. The website photo must have been from years ago!

The ferry arrived in Molokai 20 minutes late on the dock and we expected to immediately have our car waiting. After all, their website shows a picture of the happy couple posing in front of the boat with their car right on the dock! But we quickly discovered the cars were not at the dock but at the Alamo office "somewhere" nearby (the paperwork said 1 mile away at a hotel).

I knew we were in trouble when I saw they had only one courtesy van for all 16 people waiting, and the van only holds 11. This is just lame, since they must know in advance how many are coming because we pay in advance and have to declare how many passengers in the group. So... they tell me my wife has to stay behind on the dock while I take the shuttle to get the car... Now we discover that we have to go to the airport 7 miles away and my wife was very upset at having be be left on this empty, somewhat creepy dock area. Thank goodness she found a few others who similarly were separated from their driver and the 4 of them kept each other company.

But the worst part was that there was this guy who worked for the same tour company, but was the driver of the "escorted" tour bus, and he was yelling at everyone (because we got in late) to hurry up and that no one should be going to the bathroom and that they were going to have to skip some of their scheduled stops if they didn't hurry up. As bad as things were for us with the "drive your own car tour, I felt so sorry for those who had to put up with this all day! By the way, the dock bathroom has only one toilet, and everyone was lined up because, due to rough seas, it's amost impossible to use the boat bathroom.

So after a 20 min jam packed van drive to the airport, we are off loaded and now have to wait in another line for just one Alamo employee to get everyone their cars. This process takes another 30 minutes, after which time I have to drive back to the dock (backtrack) to get my wife who is none too happy about being split up from me. Instead of a car, they give me an econoline van (which ironically seats 10), and which probably gets only 12 miles per gallon, and the added surprise that even though we prepaid the trip, there are fees and taxes you have to pay at the desk upon arrival. Worse, the Alamo employee hands me the key and says the van is "over there" with vague waive of the hand and references to a row and space, but the space number does not match up. There were many rows and vans, so I spent a bit of time looking for vans, and finally just tried my key in several until I found one that started!

I finally get my wife at the dock and we begin our day, a full hour after we were supposed to. This might not sound like much, but since we had to return the car to the airport at 3PM and then take a shuttle all the way back to the docks, we lost one of the 6 hours we had been promised on the island, which is a significant hit on the time.

Touring the island was the best part of the day, as we saw many great sites: the leper colony from the top of the cliffs (you can't drive down to it), the island itself, a coffee plantation with good food by the way, a Japanese farm where we bought fresh fruit and vegetables, and a trip to the extreme edge of the island to see the 3 mile "white" sand beach. But all too soon, we were up against the clock, and having to hurry back to return the car by 3PM as instructed. A word to the wise, there is no gas except in town and none at the airport, so if you dont have time to fill your tank and backtrack to the airport, you will pay their $7.15 per gallon fee at drop off. Another warning, there are cops on this deserted island, and they have radar looking for tourists speeding back to the docks to get their families!

So we get back to the airport to turn in the car fight on time, and yes, you guessed it, they did not have a van arrive until 3:30, so we lost another 30 minutes wasted sitting in the airport, and again only one van which we had to severely overload to get to the dock and return on the only boat that leaves that day (miss it and you have to stay the night). Again, with afternoon winds picking up, it was a tossing and turning ride for a little more than 90 minutes back to Lahaina. One of the group dropped his party off at the dock in advance, and had he not done so, we would have had a problem with not enough seats again!

Molokai has some nice scenery, but I can't recommend this way of seeing it. I might not go as far as one reviewer who said "wasted day" but it was close....

42  Thank travelNReviewer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2013

On a recent trip to Maui, my husband and I noticed that there is daily ferry service from Lahaina to Molokia and that there is a day tour that you can take of the island. Having read the book, Molokai (which is quite good), I was curious to visit the island. A word of caution about this trip - The ferry only makes one round trip/day. You leave Lahaina around 7:00am and depart Molokai at 4:00pm. We didn't know this until we our return trip. The reason I mention this is that you have a choice once you arrive on Molokai to wander around all 2 blocks of a very run-down town, rent a car to tour the island or take a guided tour. Trust me, there isn't much to see other than the overlook where you can see the leper colony in the distance. Thankfully we booked the guided tour or we would have been furious about having to wait several hours before being able to return to Maui. This probably could have been a very interesting day and tour but unfortunately, we had probably the worst guide, Hans, we've ever experienced in many years of travelling the world. He was not only illiterate but it was almost impossible to understand anything he said, his command of the language and speech patterns were so bad and couldn't answer any questions posed by the group. We did make a lunch stop which was surprisingly good. The one highlight of the trip was the whalewatching en route to and from Lahaina. The ferry service operates independently of the tour and staff of the ferry was very pleasant and nice. The trip to Molokai was lovely. Be prepared - the return trip was quite rough and wet. The tour of the island supposedly includes an 'informative' stop and tour or a coffee plantation (it's really just a coffee bar and gift shop) and a macadamia nut farm owned by a very strange fellow tells you a little about macadamia nuts but mostly slams the commercial growers and processers. Unfortunately, given the guide we had it was not informative at all and aside from the many whales we saw from the ferry was a total waste of time and money. At one time there were a couple of highend resorts and a dude ranch on Molokai, but the local population is so unfriendly that they forced them to closed. It's sort of a sad place in that 75% of the population of the island is unemployed and on welfare and apparently there is a massive drug problem. There are so many other great things to do while visiting Maui.

21  Thank Flychic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 16, 2013

We took an excursion from Lahina to Molokai. The entire thing was what I call "the excursion from hell". First to the Ferry ride. Thank goodness I don't have seasickness. This has to be the worst conditions I have been in and the ride back was even worse. On the way over the swells were 6-8 feet. On the way back to Lahina I am certain it was between 10-12 feet. The people I was with and the locals were the only ones not sick and this was on a boat with 50 people.

As for the tour. It was not at all worth the money. The tour was arranged by discoverhawaiitours.com and it was not worth the price. They advertise that you see a coffee plantation, a macadamia nut factory and Father Damien's Leper Colony. What you really see is things that are either closed down or very far away.

Overall a very bad day and one I wish i could have a do-over.

21  Thank pbj2174
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2013

I'm a local concierge and would never recommend the Molokai ferry unless forced. However that being said it is way cheaper than the plane. If you are an adventure lover and on a budget take the ferry. If you value comfort and get seasick at the drop of a hat, take the plane. Also, if you are a senior citizen, take the plane as the ferry trip is too rough across the channel between the islands. IF you HAVE to take the ferry, bring an extra change of clothes for when you vomit on yourself or get swamped by seaspray, a scarf to breath through so the fumes are not so overpowering (diesel smoke, vomit and latrine), ginger cookies & or 7-up to sip on to settle your stomach and an attitude like Captain Dan on Forrest Gump where he shouts to the sky in a storm "YOU WILL NOT SINK THIS BOAT!" because that is what it will take (an awesome sense of humor and strength to get thru it.

21  Thank Susan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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