Travel Gal Returns to the island of Molokai

December 28, 2011 · Print This Article

waterfall on MolokaiI am returning to the Hawaiian Island of Molokai after 5 years, this time my Mother and sisters are joining me.  I am planning an “Experience Molokai” on a 4 day excursion.   We will stay at Hotel Molokai (a genuine luxury hideaway) from all things mainstream - which is styled after a Polynesian village and located on Kamiloloa beach.  It is a tiny oceanfront resort complete with a bar and restaurant - by the way, it’s the only place to get draft beer on the island!  The hotel is “community minded” as they offer a Polynesian show every Friday night as well as host a community party once a year - this year its on January 24th - we will be there.

When visiting Molokai you will experience authentic Hawaii with unspoiled coastlines, serene seascapes, untamed wilderness and no building taller then a cocoanut tree.  In the central town of Kaunakakai, absent of traffic lights and virtually unchanged since the early 1900’s.

This charming paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town is also the island’s main harbor, where some locals still fish for their dinner. Stroll down to Kaunakakai Harbor to the end of the state’s longest pier, extending well past the reef - just you, the local fisherman and the sound of local boats slowly jetting out of the harbor.

Our highlight of the vacation will be our trip to Kalaupapa National Park.  It is restricted to 100 outside visitors a day.  No one is allowed in without a sponsor and visitors must be 16 yrs or older.

The settlement of Kalaupapa is on the West side of the nearly flat, 10 square-mile Makanalua Peninsula which juts into the Pacific below the world’s highest sea cliffs.  A place of stunning beauty, it’s been blessed by nature’s grandeur, and cursed by humanity’s ignorance and fear.

The peninsula is accessible only by sea, by air or via a trail from “top side” Molokai, which descends 1,700 feet of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

There are 3 ways to travel to Kalaupapa Settlement, one is by traversing the 2.9 mile trail, with 26 switchbacks down the side of a cliff. The decent is almost 1700 ft and strain is emphasized on the knees and ankles.  The second option is by mule (which I don’t ride) or we can also fly in by small plane.  Since I am traveling with my 83 yr old Mother, we are flying in.

Upon arriving in Kalaupapa Settlement, we will be met by our Damien Tours guide and for the next few hours we are expecting to experience one of Hawaii’s most remarkable tours, in a community hidden from the world for so many years.

We are anticipating learning about the leper colony, its people, incredible tales of struggle and human suffering, along with stories of courage and love.

Kalaupapa Settlement & Father Damien - In the 1850’s when Hansen’s disease, formerly known as Leprosy, swept through the Hawaiian Isles the worst cases were sent to this isolated peninsula. In 1873, Father Damien arrived and was revered for his infinite love for the residents of Kalaupapa.

Last year the Catholic Church ordained him as Saint Damien for his good works helping the abandoned people of Kalaupapa Settlement.

Our tours will be organized by Molokai Outdoors - a local company owned by Clare who has lived on Molokai for 11 years. She is married and mother of three, 2 daughters and a son. Before coming to Molokai, she traveled the world for 12 years, acquiring many professional windsurfer titles. You will find Clare driving the company computers, hiking to Kalaupapa, kayaking the coastline or running free clinics for Molokai youth in windsurfing and kayaking.

Below is an excerpt on an article I wrote a few years ago after returning from Molokai:

Especially informative was the trek to Kalaupapa! I had absolutely no idea exactly how strenuous a trek it is. I am an avid hand over fist hiker with a good deal of stamina, and just going to the 15th switchback challenged me. The leader of the pack is Clare, the owner of Molokai Outdoors. She is absolutely amazing! The combination of her passion for the island and it’s history, as well as her infectious personality made our experience all the more enjoyable. I’ll hike with her anytime!

Stay tuned for the next article on “Nightlife Molokai style aka The Molokai Bread Run.

If you too would like to discover Molokai, or any other Hawaiian Island,

contact us at 800 644-6659 or

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