Apr 9, 2014

Hanging out in Molokai, Hawaii

If I was going to move to Hawaii, which I am not considering, I would pick the island of Molokai. When John and I left the airport in our rental car we liked the sign that said, “Aloha, Slow Down this is Moloka’i. No windmills or cables.” They like to say that the island is a step into the 50s and they want it to stay that way. For some, especially the young people, it is just too quiet. For us it was perfect. 

Molokai is Hawaii’s fifth largest island and only 38 miles long and 10 miles wide. There are less than 8,000 inhabitants and nearly half are of Hawaiian descent so it is called “The Most Hawaiian Island.”

We rented Condo 207 at Molokai Shores.  It was lovely with a
kitchen, bedroom, living room, and a balcony. We had access to the beach, swimming pool, and laundry; and, as one might expect, very quiet. We went shopping in the one main supermarket. They had everything but things are expensive because it is an island and everything has to be imported. Molokai is always quiet but even more so on Sunday when most things are closed. Even on week days there is very little traffic so exploring the island is stress free. 

We would have liked to visit Kalaupapa National Historical Park which preserves the leper colonies that were established in the mid-1800s to isolate those with leprosy (better known as Hanson’s disease). I recall reading about it in James Michener’s epic, “Hawaii.” The disease has been curable since 1940 but some people still remain in the settlement. It is where Father Damien, Hawaii’s first saint, dedicated his life to improving the conditions of those afflicted.
 The settlement is on a spit of land surrounded by the world’s highest cliffs. There are two ways to visit. One is to fly in on a helicopter and the other by mule down the cliff trail.  We decided to opt for a view from above.  We drove to the Kalaupapa Lookout where a short trail led to an area with a view overlooking Father Damien’s settlement. Storyboards told about the colony.

On our return we stopped at the Meyer Sugar Mill which is on the National Register of Historic Places. There is a small museum. They will also organize a Pa’ina (the Hawaiian word for luau) with a hula dancer. Molokai is where the hula originated. We also took the road west across the middle of the island.  The coffee shop that advertised free music was closed so we continued on to the

town of Maunaloa seeing nary a soul. The village is quaint and the center of attraction was the Big Wind Kite Factory which offers handmade kites along with classes for kids.  The owners Daphne and Jonathan started the Big Wind Kite Factory in 1980 and all the kites and windsocks are handmade in the back of the shop.  The gift shop has a fascinating collection of artifacts and gifts from around the world. 

For a place with such a small population there are several small but attractive places of worship.  As one might expect there is snorkeling, fishing, surfing and other water fun activities. Hiking in Halawa Valley, which was settled by Polynesians around 650 AD, is a popular activity especially to the double-tiered 250-foot Mooula Falls. We found Molokai a great place in which to kick back.