I haven't logged much time in Moloka`i recently. I've been there a few times for work when I was at KHNL, and previous to that, I spent spring break with the Kamehameha Schools Bishop Choir singing our way around churches on Topside.
From the beach at Hotel Moloka`i. Photo by Ryan Kawamoto.
Sunset from hotel. Photo by Ryan Kawamoto.
It was about time to revisit the Friendly Isle, so when my group of friends from Pacific Century Fellows (we are all in the current class) wanted to plan a trip, I was all for it.
We stayed for three nights and four days at Hotel Moloka`i, while venturing around just about all parts of the island except the west side.
With houseman Diamond.
One of the trip highlights was Friday evening entertainment at the hotel. There's a Na Kupuna Aloha Friday jam session in which various members of the community just come over and kanikapila - and this is truly an organic effort, with the occasional server stopping to dance hula for the crowd.
Hotel Molokai: Ina, Ryan, Steph, Tyler, me, Leslie, Tyler, Kalani. Photo by Ryan Kawamoto
What I found lovely about it is the very small-town feel it imparts on visitors - not just those from other states, but even for those from Honolulu. Most music events in Oahu are produced to at least some degree so things billed as kanikapila are not as authentic as the original backyard jam.
My group might have had too much fun because I ended up accidentally getting briefly married to one of the other fellows. But... what happens in Moloka`i can stay in Moloka`i! Ha ha! Love you, Bully!
Diane Dos Santos Tam.
Another watering hole so nice we visited it twice was Paddlers Inn, with live entertainment and billiards. Of course, it could be that it's the only bar on the island...
The stars shine brightly on the island, so if you're into stargazing, this is a great place to take in the heavens.
Lest you think all we did was play - and you would be forgiven for thinking so - we also stopped at Ka Honua Momona for a tour of this ancient fishpond. Caretakers explained the difficulty of managing this resource but also talked about the joys and benefits of keeping a cultural touchstone alive.
Ka Honua Momona's mission is to be a model of sustainability mauka a makai (from the mountains to the sea). It seeks to foster connections between all aspects of the island ecosystem, including the people and culture, and firmly believes that Molokai can again return to abundance and become a self-sufficient model for others.
Dr. Emmett Aluli.
Dr. Emmett Aluli, Co-Medical Executive Director of Moloka`i General Hospital, was kind enough to give us a tour of the facility and to talk about the challenges and positives of rural healthcare. Most interesting - there are only three doctors on the island, so if one needs specialized care, one needs to fly to Oahu. I've long been aware of this issue, but being there and hearing it drove the point home.
Rob Stephenson from the Moloka`i Chamber of Commerce - and a PCF alumnus - graced us with his presence for a couple days, and set up a business panel for us to hear from community leaders on the particularities of doing business on the island. The concerns are extremely different from those one might hear in Honolulu or a larger island.
Tyler, excited for wi fi.
One other thing: internet connection (wireless or otherwise) is sketchy, so any visit to Coffees of Hawaii generated much excitement for the group. It may take us longer than a four day trip to want to disconnect from our electronic umbilical cords.
That, and if you think gas is expensive on Oahu, look at what it costs on Moloka`i:
Team Moloka`i! Ina, Leslie, Ryan, Kalani, Tyler, me, Ina. Photo by Steph Hsu.
Those are just some of the recaps of the quick visit - and in the blogs ahead, I'll detail some of the more extensive day trips we took - which you might enjoy, too.