On Friday, we flew via Mokulele Airlines to the island of Molokai. Our flight was delayed and our pilot was a little snippy because when he finally showed up to escort us out to the plane, my husband had gone out of the gate area to see if he could get any information about our flight since there is no information available inside the gate. That's right, you have to walk back out through security to the little Mokulele counter to find out any information about your flight. Then, of course, you have to come back through security. So, just know that going in. Once we got in the air, it was only about a half-hour flight on our nine-passenger plane, and it was pretty smooth until we got over Molokai where things got a little bumpy. Luckily it's a short flight and you have a great view of the islands as you fly over toward the airport.
Flying over Molokai, looking at Lanai (I think. We might be looking at Maui, but I'm pretty sure it's Lanai. Can anybody help me out on this?)
When we arrived at the airport we went to the rental car counter (THE rental car counter-there's only one!). Here I have to give props to Alamo for their customer service. Both our pickup and our drop off were very pleasant experiences. The women who were working behind the counter each time were so friendly and made us feel like we were really being taken care of.
When we arrived at Hotel Molokai, we were a little surprised. It doesn't look like a traditional hotel, it sort of sneaks up on you.
The parking lot is in front, so it's set back just a tiny bit off the road, but it's almost easy to miss-it blends into it's surroundings a bit better than most of the giant hotels in Waikiki I guess. We got the keys to our room and found our Garden View Deluxe room nicely appointed. You can tell that the property is an older property, but they have done a nice job updating the rooms. I would say that the pictures on their web site are a pretty accurate representation of what you actually get. No magic cameras here! We also had a huge lanai (at least by Hawaii standards), big enough for a largish four-person table and a porch swing. Our main view was of the banana trees planted outside our balcony, but from the outer side of the lanai, you could see the ocean. Even though the buildings here are fairly close together, they've done a good job of maintaining privacy on the lanais. Here's a poorly-adjusted picture looking from our room to our lanai, but you get the idea. Hey, I never claimed to be a professional photographer.
The other side of the room, opposite the lanai, was all jalousie windows. This is great for letting in air-not all rooms have A/C-but not so great for privacy since ours opened up on the main walkway between the front desk and the restaurant, and there are no window coverings. Also, jalousies provide absolutely no insulation from noise, and since we were close to the restaurant/bar area, there was a lot of noise. This was the view from our room.
After we got settled in to our room, we decided we still had some time to drive around and check out the island before our dinner. We drove up to the Kalaupapa Lookout and Phallic Rock. As you might expect, the Kalaupapa Lookout looks out over the Kalaupapa Peninsula. If this sounds familiar to you it's because it is where the recently-sainted Father Damien did his work with patients suffering from Hansen's Disease (leprosy). In 1866 King Kamehameha V exiled people suffering from the disease to this isolated peninsula. Today, Kalaupapa is a National Historic Park. There is still a settlement there, but people are not confined as they once were. Visitors are allowed to the settlement, but arrangements must be made ahead of time to fly in, hike in or ride in on a mule. I've heard this can be a pretty treacherous hike, so research your options ahead of time if you do decide to go.
Anyway...the lookout was beautiful. It is surrounded by a gorgeous wooded area that felt very "Where the Wild Things Are" to me and, of course, provides an excellent view of the Kalaupapa Peninsula.
After admiring the view here for a few minutes, we walked back to the parking lot and headed over to check out the Phallic Rock. Because how can you not? What can I say. This is one aptly named piece of nature. How could it not have some lore attached to it? Just imagine you're the first person to discover this-you're walking along one day and all of a sudden, "Whoa. Hey, what's this?"
"Hmmm...my...well, that looks slightly...let me just walk around and examine this a little more before I make any final..."
(Running back to village) "You are not gonna believe what I just found! You guys gotta come see this!"
So, our curiosity assuaged, it was time to return to the Hula Shores Restaurant at Hotel Molokai for their weekly Aloha Friday Sunset Celebration. Every Friday people from all over the island gather here for music, drinks, hula, story-telling, general camaraderie, and, of course, food. What Hawaiian gathering is complete without food? We heard from many people that we talked to on the island that this is the place to be on Friday nights, and it seems they were right. By the time we got there at about 5:45, the parking lot was full, and we had to park on the road. We missed most of the hula, but there was music going all night long, and we got there just in time to wash our hands and go to dinner.
Before dinner was served though, everyone stood up and joined hands (good thing I just washed mine! I hope everyone else did too...); I thought someone was going to say grace, but instead the band started playing, and everyone started singing. Well, I say "everyone," but I mostly just swayed and smiled since the first song was a Hawaiian song that I didn't know. Later it morphed into another song, something patriotic, I just can't remember what. I think it was "This Land is Your Land." By the time I figured out that I actually knew what was going on it was over. Story of my life.
Dinner was wonderful. Our gracious host, Michael Drew, General Manager of Hotel Molokai, started us out with some yummy pupus followed by our tasty entrees which were accompanied by good drinks and followed by a rich cheesecake for dessert. I ordered the Huli Huli Chicken, which is the island version of rotisserie chicken, and it was perfectly cooked. It had great flavor and was still very moist. I didn't get any good pictures of the food, but @NctrnlBst got some good pictures and posted them in a slide show at the end of the great post he wrote about his weekend on Molokai. He also provides a better and more thorough explanation of our unplugged weekend. So, please head over to check out his post on his blog, Baker's Hours.
After all this great food at the end of a long week, we hit the wall. It was time for us to retire while the Unplugged Retreat raged on in the bar below us. This is the part where we found out that not only is our room not noise-proof, but actually acted as a bit of an echo chamber. It didn't matter. We were tired enough that we were able to sleep through the band, and the raucous laughter that continued well into the night and into the wee early hours of the morning, which I'm told was about 11:00 or so, maybe midnight. I think I'm getting old.
And so ends our first day on Molokai. Join me later in the week and I'll tell you about late-night bakery runs, amazing hikes and what might actually be the cutest dog ever.
Anyone else who has pictures and/or blogs from this weekend, please feel free to leave a link in my comments. Thanks!