Molokai’s Green Grooves Are My First Glimpse

Hotel Molokai's beach.
Hotel Molokai's beach. Watched this boat motor across the reef, never seen a motor boat go that slowly.

At the windy open air commuter air terminal at Kahului airport in Maui, we waited to board the rickity Dash turboprop airplane.  There were only four of us, in the 11-seater, and the pilot sat with the cockpit door open as he navigated us down the runway and in seconds, into the air.  We flew so low that our cellphones worked and I posted a photo to Facebook while we flew. Try doing that on American!

Flying over the island I saw a sea of green grooves, other-worldly shapes like tentacles, plunging down from the middle, giant grooves of various shades of green. There were a few trails up there but it was barren, lifeless, no houses no roads just endless green grooves.

This island is an all together different experience than Maui, starting with its size. It’s only about 38 miles by 12 miles, and there are just under 8000 residents here.  I’m staying in the only hotel, in the biggest town, called Kaunakakai, and when I drove here in my rented Jeep, I passed by intersections where there are no traffic signals. None.

I checked in and fruitlessly tried to get on line. That would have to wait. Instead I made my way to the Hula Shores Restaurant, which might be the only restaurant here as well. I think there are a few cafes, and a pizza

Our Mokulele Airlines pilot Bob, flying to Molokai. No need to close the door.
Our Mokulele Airlines pilot Bob, flying to Molokai. No need to close the door.

joint but this beachside, tiki lamp lit eatery is it for fine dining.  At the bar I sat next to two Hawaiians. Natives who have lived here their whole lives.  I asked about the Molokai Ranch, which was a big employer on the west end of the island where they had a large herd of cattle. It closed down about seven years ago, the man told me. “It’s owned by people from New Zealand,” he said with a shrug. Actually it’s a rich man from Singapore whose bank is in New Zealand.

This is the most Hawaiian of the islands, with more native Hawaiians living here than in the more developed Maui. Today I am looking forward to meeting a woman named Teri who runs the only bookstore here.  I was pointed in her direction by Keli’i Brown, the jovial and fun head of Maui PR. He promised I’d like her.

But before my date with Teri, I’ll paddle the waters of the island’s south shore.  I’ve found that kayaking, like bicycling, is the best way to get to know a place and feel comfortable there. I look forward to asking my guide about his island home, and what makes it special to him. Or her.