Today was another early day trying to squeeze as much out of Kaua’i as possible before flying out. Before checking out, I had to get a sunrise picture from the resort. Our first stop this morning was at Passion Bakery Cafe in Wailua to get coffee for MW and a Mac Nut Roll for me. Yum! There is a reason their reviews are so good, and I’ve decided that, like bacon, macadamia nuts make everything better.
Next we headed to the Kilauea Point Lighthouse. As we were headed in on Kilauea Road, I told MW that I was pretty sure that the elusive Nene bird is actually extinct. We’ve seen signs all over the islands to be careful of these birds, but not even a sighting from a distance. I told him that I thought the signs were just up to keep us tourists interested. Lo and behold, we rounded the very next bend to find a pair of Nenes in a field beside the road! They really are pretty birds, and these let me get about 6′ away from them to take a pic. They believe that a pair of Canada Geese got off track and ended up in Hawaii a long time ago, and the Nene is the result. The lighthouse is a wildlife sanctuary, and there are lots of birds. We saw at least three more pairs, along with a lot of egrets. The cliffs and lighthouse are beautiful, too. The gates were closed, so we could not go out to the lighthouse, but the view from the hill was amazing.
Our next stop was Anini Beach to try to see a green sea turtle. No luck! We did find a LOT more chickens, though. We continued up the coast to Hanalei, which was a neat little town. It had some commercial beach stuff, but a lot of just local flavor.
HI-56 past Hanalei has been closed except to local traffic since the hurricane last summer, so we had to turn around and not finish the Na’Pali coast drive. On the trip back to the south side, we popped into a store to get a postcard for Cutie Booger, mailed that, then headed to turn the car in. (When we opened the trunk there was dust all along the rim from the dirt road drive yesterday! LOL)
The flight was on time for Moloka’i. It was the first time in ages (probably back to the John Hanks music tour days) that I’ve ridden on a commercial prop plane. Upon arrival we were met by Frankie from the hotel in their shuttle, a rather beat up mini-van that was not very clean. The first impression was not great.
Earlier in the day I noticed that my previous symptoms were returning, and it was Friday afternoon on a tiny island. I asked the driver to stop by the local drugstore. The pharmacist there recommended that I go to a clinic nearby, and the nurse practitioner there said she could fit me in because her next patient always runs late. Within 45 minutes I was back at the pharmacy with a prescription in hand. It was really amazing. Everyone was very concerned that my vacation would be ruined. At home this would have taken a visit to urgent care, where I would have waited for 3 hours at least. What a difference in attitudes! Problem solved!
While I was taking care of my issues, Frankie took MW to the hotel to check in, then came back to pick me up. By then we were both pretty tired, so we just went back to the Hotel Moloka’i. This place appeared to be built in the 1970s. The grounds are really beautiful, and there was a bar and restaurant on the water. The rooms are bungalow-style, and ours was right on the water. The good things were the bed (although it was REALLY high and had no step) and the tile floors, which were nice in the heat. The room did have AC and a fan, but the bathroom had permanently open windows with just screens, so it never got cool. The tub was peeling, and the fixtures were a challenge to operate. There was also a line of ants crawling up the wall in the bedroom. The furnishings and curtains were cheap. This is the first place we stayed in the islands that we did not think was worth the money. They drastically need to work on the rooms. As I understand it, there are five other hotels on the island. If I go back, I will check out those or the AirBnB option.
After settling in, we went to the hotel bar for a couple of drinks, then ended up eating there. A big outrigger competition was starting on Sunday where 8-man teams row from Moloka’i to Honolulu. The crews were all in town early, and the restaurant was covered up with the contestants. (In fact, a team flew over with us earlier and explained the race to me. An outrigger was also featured in the Hawaii Five-0 closing credits.) There is just nothing wrong with muscled young men wandering around everywhere, and yes, I was looking. Shoot me!
Moloka’i has a totally different vibe than the other islands we visited. There are no tall buildings, and no franchises. Our bartender, who was born on the island, explained that the islanders like things just like they are and fight change at every opportunity.
This had been long day, and it was time to turn in.
Some more photos from today:
This morning our tour was not starting until 9:30 AM, so we took our time getting everything together.
Our guide, John, lives on the big island and does tours there, too, but comes to Moloka’i for weeks at a time to work. He was very nice and a wealth of information about the island. Today they were having the Aloha Parade in Kaunakakai, so that was our first stop. The parade consisted of one float, a lot of political candidates, a few kids from a dance school, and a couple of decorated tractors. We walked around and looked at the local crafts and tasty offerings.
Next on the tour was a visit to Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nuts in Ho’olehuato, a local macadamia nut farmer who was very interesting. He gave us the tour and a lot of information about growing mac nuts, then let us crack open raw nuts to try. They are very different from the ones we buy. The taste is better, and the texture is totally different, more like a fresh pecan. They have a short shelf life, though, so in order to make them last to ship out large companies add oils and preservatives. Natural nuts are very healthy, but by the time they prep them, they are not. This farmer only sells natural nuts locally and does not process at all. We also sampled some macadamia honey, which was great. The guy was a little crazy looking, like Nick Nolte when he was on drugs, but he was fun.
We popped into a local coffee shop to get a drink and take advantage of the facilities before heading up to an overlook for Kalaupapa. This town is located on a peninsula that is inaccessible by anything but air (they have an airport) or burro. It was established for just that reason, because it was a leper colony in the early 1800s. At the time, there was no cure and the sick were separated from society by being taken by boat to this spot and dumped off in the ocean. Some never made it to shore, and once there, were never allowed to leave. If a woman became pregnant, the baby was removed immediately after birth and raised by someone else to protect him/her from the disease. Many years ago the government gave the land to the inhabitants. John called them the “patients” and said that there are still eight living in the colony. They have their own government, and total say about what happens on their little peninsula. There is a bit of controversy about what will happen to the land when the last one dies. Their descendants feel that they own it and hope to argue that point. However, the patients invited the National Park Service in many years ago, and it will most likely become a national park. You can go down into the community to visit, but the person to approve that wasn’t available for our tour. I recommend going, because from above it appears to be one of the most beautiful places on Molokai with such an interesting history.
By now it was lunch time, so John took us to Moloka’i Pizza Cafe, where we had pepperoni breadsticks (John said they were a must) and the biggest burgers I think I’ve ever had (seriously 6″ across)! While the burgers were good, those breadsticks were the big hit.
Back in the car we drove by the wharf. Moloka’i has a natural coral reef that is far out, protecting the beaches on about 3/4 of the island. It also has several fish ponds built by native Hawaiians to catch and hold fish. I had hoped to see those elusive green turtles, but still no luck. It’s looking like I’m going to miss out on those.
Our last sight was my favorite: Saint Joseph Church, which was built by Saint Damien with his own hands (he was a carpenter). It is a beautiful little chapel with a statue of Father
Damien outside. We were able to go inside, where it was surprisingly cool with the windows open. It was not hard to picture sitting there 120 years ago listening to Father Damien’s service. There was also a statue of a civil war soldier named Joseph Dutton who spent the rest of his life after returning from the war helping Father Damien and the lepers. Hawaiians are very proud that two Saints (Damien and Marianne) are both linked to Moloka’i. They are also proud that there are statues of King Kamehameha and Father Damien in the Library of Congress.
It was time to start thinking about heading to the airport, but before that we stopped in at Dave’s Homemade Ice Cream for a taste of Hawaiian flavors. MW tried Ube (purple sweet potato) and I had Banana Fudge and Kona Mud. Not a bad one in the bunch.
After a great day sightseeing, John dropped us at the Molokai airport to wait for our flight. It was a 3-hour wait, and the terminal is open-air. Once again…HOT! Buddy told us that winter had come to Seattle, and while we have enjoyed the sights in the islands, I think we are both looking forward to the cold. You can always put clothes on, but can only take off so much! MW was thankful that he wasn’t wearing a dress shirt and sport coat, his normal flight attire. We made it to Honolulu around 7 PM where I worked on this blog a bit before getting on the 9:15 PM flight to Seattle. We were already exhausted and hoping to get some sleep on the plane.
A few more photos from today: