This time last year I was lucky enough to be in Hawaii, my 50th US state. Before I left, I was told how each of the islands possesses a different character. And since I managed to get to five of the six Hawaiian islands accessible to visitors, I was able to test the truth of this for myself.
Last week I wrote about my experiences on Kauai, the Garden Island. Today it’s the turn of Molokai, the Friendly Island.
Flying into Molokai, my first impression was of how underdeveloped the island seemed. This was an feeling that was to remain with me throughout my entire stay. Not least because the island’s largest settlement, Kaunakakai, has a whopping population of about 3500.
Molokai is essentially rectangular. The rainforest-clad peak of Kamakou in the northeast of the island is the highest point, reaching almost 5000 feet. Kamakou is actually the remains of a volcano, the northern half of which collapsed into the sea roughly 1½ million years ago.
This catastrophic collapse resulted in the impressive cliffs of Kalaupapa, which are billed as the highest sea cliffs in the world (depending on your definition). And our first stop on Molokai was Palau’au State Park, which includes a lookout offering wonderful vistas along the cliffs. The view also takes in the whole of isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula, at their base.
We began our first full day on Molokai by driving the coast road that skirts the southern edge of the island. The road ends at the easternmost part of the island, at the secluded Halawa Valley, with its spectacular waterfall.
On the way back west, we battled through the undergrowth to ‘Ili’iliopae Heiau (temple). The impressive expanse of ‘Ili’iliopae is the second largest heiau in Hawaii, and was constructed 7-800 years ago, making it one of the oldest. It was apparently once used for human sacrifices, which kind of goes against the whole ‘Friendly Island’ thing!
That afternoon we drove out to the far western end of the island, to near ‘Ilio Point. It was fantastic walking along the pristine beaches near the semi-deserted resort at Kaluako’i.
That evening, with storm clouds gathering over the sea west of Maunaloa, we headed back to Kaunakakai for dinner, where we again enjoyed Molokai’s famous friendliness. Particularly when the aforementioned storm meant that much of the covered patio got sprayed with rain, and everyone had to crowd together to stay dry!
Next morning we experienced the highlight of our time on Molokai: descending the cliffs down to the Kalaupapa Peninsula… on muleback! The Kalaupapa Mule Tour navigates 26 switchbacks, as the steep trail descends 1700 down the face of the cliffs. It’s quite the Journey, I can tell you!
At the bottom we had an interesting and sensitive tour of the Kalaupapa Peninsula, which has been a leprosy (Hansen’s disease) colony since 1866. Although there is no longer any risk of contagion, visitors to the colony are strictly limited, out of respect for the surviving patients there. Eventually, when last patient passes away, the peninsula with become a National Park.
Following an adrenaline-pumping mule ride back up the cliff, we made one final stop on our way back to the airport, at Hoolehua Post Office. Our mission was to decorate and post a couple of coconuts back to Rich and Sue’s nephews in the UK. The twist being that the coconuts were the present AND the packaging!
While you’re longing for the peaceful isolation of Molokai, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?
And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!