Gentle charm: Molokai is not for everyone. There isn't the tempo of the other islands, but there is a romantic rhythm that comes from the Pacific gently beating on the island's shores. A peaceful, gentle charm permeates this second smallest island of the original island chain. It feels like an exclusive, serene aura hovers over this volcanic speck floating in the Pacific. On clear nights, from the beaches on the western shore, the twinkling lights of Oahu 25 miles across the channel can be seen. This gives a fairytale feeling that asks what might be if I go through the looking glass, but do I want to?
Itinerary flexibility: Molokai can be included in Hawaii itineraries with flexibility. Day flights are available from Oahu or Maui, or nestle in on the island with great hotel rates, comfortable condos or bed and breakfasts, and visit the sister islands as your whim directs. It depends on how much lack of stress and relaxation you can handle.
The Friendly Island: Molokai has many labels. It is presently called the "Friendly Island," but it has gone through many metamorphosis. It was known as the "Lonely Island" in the 16th and 17th centuries due to superstition and fear of the powerful and feared Kahunas (priests) that were suppose to inhabit the island.
The Forbidden Island: In the mid-1800s, leprosy crept in and Molokai became the "Forbidden Island." Lepers were cast off to an inaccessible cove on the Kapapapa Peninsula. It was a death sentence for anyone sent here until 1873 when a Belgian priest, Father Damien de Veuster, came to Molokai and dedicated his life to caring for the lepers. After years of easing the plight of the exiles, he died from the disease. Eventually a Norwegian scientist, Armauer Hansen, isolated the virus, eased the ravages of those infected and stopped the disease from spreading. The disorder became known as Hansen's disease.
The Molokai Mule Ride: The colony can be reached by the “Molokai Mule Ride" that includes a 1,700-foot decent with 26 switchbacks. Upon arrival into the valley, you will be greeted by a resident and a four hour tour is available. It's safe and very interesting. You can also hike or fly in and be met by representative from the Kalaupapa National Historical Park who can accommodate your tour needs.
A stunning view: Drive to Palaau State Park for breathtaking views at Kalaaupapa Lookout, a panoramic view of the leper colony, its airport and the 2,000 foot sea cliffs. Another path will take you to Phallic Rock; the ancient Hawaiians recognized this as a fertility symbol. It is said that infertile woman need only touch it for results. Watch out!
Simple and uncluttered: With waterfalls, beautiful scenery and the tallest sea cliffs in the world, Molokai lets the visitor take a few steps back to the past when everything moved much slower and everyone had time to, as they say, "smell the flowers." Everything is simple and uncluttered. When was the last time you were the only car on the road going 20 miles an hour? Kites and hand-dyed shirts are the exciting things to purchase here.
Getting around: Molokai airport is about eight miles northwest of Kaunakakai. Rental cars are available and reservations (especially on weekends) are a good idea. There is no public transportation, but there is a 24-hour taxi service, a helpful touring office and a limousine company available. There is a ferry from Maui (Lahina) to Molokai.
Getting there: Hawaiian Airlines serves Molokai with a 26-minute flight from Honolulu. Molokai Air Shuttle also offers flights. If you plan to fly to the leprosy settlement, you can fly to a simple landing strip at Kalaupapa Airport. Molokai Airport serves passengers for all other parts of Molokai. A reliable travel agent is your best bet for the best deals.
By Camille Bounds