Molokai: “The Most Hawaiian Island”

 

Many have said Molokai is an island lost in time, left behind by the rest of the world.  This is a wonderful thing and gives a visitor a glimpse into what life was like in Hawaii a generation ago.  Life on Molokai is simple and fulfilling.  The people are filled with kindness and generosity but visitors must show tremendous respect for the culture to receive the "Aloha Spirit." 

Molokai SunsetBeing the most "Hawaiian" of the major islands, a day on Molokai can be filled with every outdoor adventure imaginable.  Nature is still in its pristine state, relatively unspoiled by overdevelopment.  This is not by accident; the people of Molokai have fought long and hard to protect her from the greed that has spoiled so much of the rest of the world.  Molokai is the only place I have ever been where you truly are not judged by the car you drive or the size of your house - you will only be judged on the kind of person you really are. 

Whether you are looking to do everything or nothing at all, if you come with an open mind, Molokai will leave you with a smile on your face and a sort of peace that is normally unattainable.  Surf, dive, hunt, fish, hike, or just relax on a secluded beach - it doesn’t matter, time has a way of standing still in this place.  Barbeque you catch and enjoy you favorite drink, entertained by the sounds of the ocean.  If you lucky enough to fish or hunt, take only what you need for that night’s dinner - remember, you are a visitor in someone else’s world, in someone else’s home. 

The 5th largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Molokai has a population of about 8,000 people.  The nickname, "The Most Hawaiian Island" comes from the fact that nearly 40% of the population is of Hawaiian decent.  The first Hawaiians came to Molokai around 650 A.D. in double hulled canoes, from Tahiti and other areas in the South Pacific.  Molokai is well known for its abundant natural resources, and the Hawaiians preserved the resources with careful balance and a love for the land and ocean. 

Molokai Diving

As you drive along the south shore of Molokai, you will see the remains of more than 60 fishponds - a simple but brilliant way to sustain a community.  One must realize the Hawaiian aquaculture system was far more advanced than simply raising fish in a pond.  Various schools of fish were trained to return to the same pond for safety, while be allowed to freely feed outside of the pond.  The balance of the system alleviated many of the problems of today’s aquaculture endeavors.

The sense of spirituality and culture is very strong on the island.  Molokai was renowned for the wisdom of its leaders and protected from war by its religious prestige.  The history of Hawaii is often expressed through the Hula, which legend tells us was born on Molokai, shared by the goddess Laka.

Molokai remains a beautiful example of the Hawaiian way of life with traditions passed from generation to generation.

Molokai SunsetThe West end of Molokai holds one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. Papohaku Beach is the longest natural unbroken beach in the state, known for its clean water and unspoiled state. If you visit, you will often find that you are the only person there for miles. The West end also holds many of Molokai’s best surf breaks. 

The main highway runs along Molokai’s south shore. As a visitor, you will probably fly in to Hoolehua Airport and make the 7 mile trip to Kaunakakai, Molokai’s main town. Don’t blink though, or you will miss it. The town consists of one main street with a handful of stores and simple places to grab a quick bite. Near Kaunakakai, there are several hotels and bars. 

As you head further east, the island becomes more rural and you will begin to see the remains of the fishponds. The people are kind and open but you must show respect – the battle to protect Molokai from greed and development is constant and ongoing. At the end of the road, some 35 miles east of Kaunakakai, you will get to Halawa Valley – the site of the first settlement on Molokai. 

The north shore of Molokai is mainly accessed by boat, as it holds breath taking views of the highest sea cliffs in the world. 

The famous Kalaupapa is also on Molokai’s north shore. This was once known as a Leper Colony where Father Damien dedicated his life to helping the sick. Today it is a historical site with mule ride tour. 

As you explore this amazing window into the past, I can not stress enough that this place is not like the rest of Hawaii. You are a visitor, practice the utmost respect  at all times to the land and the people.

 

 

 

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