Our Molokai Experience
December 20, 2001
Staggering out of bed to the tune of
4:00AM, as the alarm clock resounded throughout our room, we gathered
our belongings (and our heads), hopped in our rental Jeep, and headed
off to Kahului, where we were to catch a
Paragon Air flight to Molokai.
The plane was to leave at 6:00AM, and we
knew we were supposed to be at the airport at least 1 hour early, since
the security had been increased due to the Sept. 11th hijackings.
There was no traffic, of course, as all the sane people were snug in their
beds. We had decided to fly to Molokai because the ferry left too
late and came back too early to have enough time to see the island.
We arrived at the commuter terminal
on time, and found all the counters to be empty. We sat and waited,
worrying frantically that we were in the wrong place or that there had
been some kind of mix-up with the reservations. Five minutes before
flight departure, our pilot came rambling up to the counter, and checked
all four passengers in, and led the way onto the runway. There was
no ticket person, no hostess, and no flight attendant, just us and the
pilot. Kind of unusual, we thought, but a bit quaint...a bit Hawaii.
It was still dusk as the small, single-wing,
single-propeller plane bumped and rolled violently over the majestic seacliffs
Molokai. The view was stupendous, even at this hour, though the
lighting precluded us from taking any photos at this time. We touched
down safely into
and the pilot led us off the runway.
Molokai Rentals met us at
the airport, waiting with our Toyota 4-Runner that we had reserved.
The sport-utility vehicle was in excellent shape, save for some spongy
brakes and a front end pull and shimmy that was evidence of roads to come.
The gas on Molokai ran over twice the price of that on the mainland, over
$2.20/gallon at the time! (Washington price was $0.96/gallon).
We motored first into
Kaunakakai, the only real town on Molokai (there are a few scattered
villages), which was quite homey, being all decorated for Christmas.
We stopped in at a local bakery, where we had a nice greasy start to our
day. This town was such a stark contrast to the hotel-lined tourist
traps of Maui... It was a cozy, quiet, and depressed town, with a few
restaurants, primarily frequented by the locals.
We headed first to the east end of the
island, into the dreamland of
Halawa Valley. The drive was simply enchanting, with a slight
drizzle presenting us with magical rainbows lining both
sides of the streets, outlining the pristine palm-lined roadway.
It seemed so calm, so authentic... We didn't pass another car or
hotel on entire drive, just some local huts and pasture lands. As
we turned another bend, we were rewarded with cascading views of the valley,
caressed with rainbows, cradled by the sea, gently rolling onto the white
sand beach. We were instantly taken with Molokai, which definitely
was living up to its reputation as "The Most Hawaiian Island".
The next stop was
Palaau State Park, where we hiked a short distance up to witness the
famous and aptly named "Phallic
Rock", as well as a towering
view over the leper colony of
Kalaupapa. We didn't take the
mule ride into the colony, instead
opting to see the rest of the island.
We drove back to the west end of the
island, heading down to the vast expanses of undisturbed sand known as
The drive was long and boring, with the west side of the island covered
with sagebrush instead of the lush ferns of the east end. The surf
was rough that day, and the beach was deserted, so we moved on to
Hale O Lono Harbor, which was also deserted. The beach here
wasn't that nice, consisting mostly of rocks, and there were no boats
to be seen, so we didn't stay long. We then put the 4-Runner in
4WD, and slammed down the dirt path over to the north shore, at
Moomomi Beach, where we found a rocky coastline, much like that of
the Oregon coast, where waves pounded fiercely against the shore.
The spray cascaded thirty feet in the air, presenting a majestic scene.
We perched on top of the rocks and shared a snack and a couple of wine
coolers, enjoying the spectacle of the surf, until we headed back down
the red dirt road, making our way to the
Waikolu Valley Overlook.
road was for 4WD vehicles only, following 10 miles of washboard and rutted
gravel with several more miles of deeply rutted, narrow mud tracks through
the forest (lots of fun!). We peeled and slid up to the overlook,
where the view ended up being mostly obscured by fog. The road was
so muddy that we decided not to hike up to the
Sandalwood Measuring Pit. Instead, we flipped a 180°, spit up
lots of mud, and headed back down the long washboard gravel road to town.
We left the 4-Runner at the airport, and hopped back in the plane on our
way to the Old Lahaina Luau!
The flight back was disappointing in
that we didn't fly over the Molokai Seacliffs, but instead took another
route, so we never did capture them on film. The east side of the
island was very beautiful and picturesque, while the west side was mostly
scrub, very western. Overall, we were captivated by Molokai...so peaceful,
so relaxed, so Hawaii...
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