Small Talk

Moloka`i trip, part 3: Halawa Valley hike

September 19th, 2014

Molokai’s East End provided the cultural lesson of the day for our Pacific Century Fellows group of friends for nearly a full day. We left the hotel at 8 am for a windy, beautiful one hour drive to the Halawa Valley.

Mooula Falls

Mooula Falls

There are several tour groups, and we were amused to later learn that there is no cell phone connection in the valley, so our guide has to drive six miles out from his house daily to check his messages and confirm his bookings. It should be said we didn't have a problem making the reservation or communicating with him.

Our hike started with a historical debrief, complete with a binder of photos passed around to illustrate his points. Then, we hiked three miles into this gorgeous, ancient valley to get a glimpse of Hawaii back in time. According to our guide, ancient Polynesians settled in this valley as early as 650 AD.

Molokai_Mooula waterfall group

Diane & Ina

Diane & Ina

It's not hard to believe. We passed many hidden heiau on our way to the 250-foot Mo`oula Falls, before finally arriving and taking a dip into the refreshingly cool waters. There were a lot of locals enjoying same, but the area is large enough to accommodate many.

Molokai_Halawa hike group

The hike is relatively flat and easy, though it does cross several streams, so I advise you wear Tevas, or wear sneakers and then switch to slippers for the crossing. I easily did the hike in slippers, but nearly lost a slipper in the stream because it had just rained and the water was a little forceful. The rocks are also slippery.

Molokai_Halawa stream

The mosquitos are relentless. We had repellent, but if I had to do it again, I would have worn pants and a long sleeved shirt. Mosquitos love me.

We stopped a few times along the way for the guide to point out native plants and landmarks. My favorite was about the kukui, which we know is the state tree, and whose nuts are used as candles. What I didn't know was that a lei of kukui nuts symbolically represents a reminder for the wearer to stay in the spiritual light. Beautiful!

If you go, the only way to explore the area is with a guide, since the trail crosses private property. You can check our Hawaii Tourism Authority's website for a list of guides, at

3 Responses to “Moloka`i trip, part 3: Halawa Valley hike”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    I'm glad your tour included the spectacularly beautiful East End. The kukui nut has a lot of oil in it, which is why it was used for indoor lighting in the old days. A dozen or so nuts would be strung together and hung from a rafter; the first one would be set afire, and provide light until its oil burned out after 10 minutes or so; whereupon the next one would start burning etc. So kukui has always been a noun or verb for light, and symbolically a lei kukui is symbolic of enlightenment. Burnt kukui is also used for black dye put onto kapa with thin wooden sticks with designs carved into them; and the meat from the nut is used for a food seasoning "inamona" (but don't eat too much or you'll get the "runs").

  2. kalaiwaka:

    Just to clear up possible confusion, it's Moa`ula Falls, not Mo`oula.
    It doesn't help that the gohawaii link also gets it wrong. They should know better.
    There is indeed a legend about a mo`o in the pond, but the mo`o does not lend its name to the waterfall.

  3. keoni:

    Mahalo nui e Kalaiwaka for pointing out the correct name of the falls. And Diane, mahalo for sharing your trip with us. I didn't do the hike when I visited Halawa valley, but it is a beautiful place and I hope it remains that way - unspoiled.

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