Hawaii is always a great place to visit especially if you want to escape the summer desert heat of Arizona. Yeah! Cool trade winds and temperatures never lower than 76 or higher than 82, plus palm trees swaying in the breeze, ocean waves breaking over the beach, friendly people, ect..
Welcome to Molokai. this is what Hawaii probably was like in 1950. No fast food joints, no big box chain stores, no high rise tourist hotels and no crowded beaches or traffic jams. Kaunakakai town located on the south shore about in the middle of the island is the largest town with one main street where only one building is newer than probably 1940 and no stoplights. there are two gas stations (unleaded gas =$5.65/gal.), a bakery, two small grocery stores, a liquor store, a library, a pizza place (very good) and with AC, a couple other lunch counters, some empty stores and a few small shops and the Paddlers Inn where you can get a great hamburger and wet your whistle and occasionally hear live music. There is also a very long wharf where you can charter a diving or snorkeling trip to the reef which is just offshore and stretches almost all the way along the southern shore, or catch the twice a day ferry to Maui. Maui is visible across the channel and so is Lanai and another small island further away and seen between these two. Kaunakakai has a large residential section stretching inland and up the hillsides and both directions along the coast. There are some really nice homes and a few not so nice but mostly the houses are what you would see in any middle class neighborhood in any rural stateside town. Saturday the town comes alive with the local farmers market.
Molokai has a few major paved roads. 460 heads west from Kaunakakai, goes past church row where about a dozen churches are lined up ( seven are the old small missionary type), then you pass the old royal coconut grove where about a thousand coconut palms sway in the wind. This grove was planted way back in 1860. Some attempt has been made to keep the trees trimmed but is still needs more TLC. Continue west on 460 and there will be a sign post for the cemetery. If you had the foresight to rent a four-wheel drive you can drive about ten miles up this dirt road to the Waikolu overlook. We didn't have that foresight and missed that drive but I understand you can see the rugged northern shore and the sea cliffs from the overlook. Next time! Past the overlook is the Kamakou nature preserve where you can hike through the rainforest and see some native birds and plants. I should mention here that Molokai like the rest of the islands got invaded by all kinds of plant species after people started coming here and a lot of what you see growing here now wasn't here 500 years ago. Mesquite is a prime example. Animals like the axis deer and the indian mongoose, not to mention rats, pigs, chickens and goats and turkeys spread all over and went feral. Hunting season on deer, pigs and goats is open every weekend. The deer are so plentiful that the fish and game shoot them from aircraft to help control the population.
OK, back down to road 460. Head west a bit more and the 470 road branches off to the north. This takes you to the coffee plantation. Stop in for a cup and browse through the gift shop. They used to offer tours but now they will let you wander around on your own. Tuesday mornings ( check on this) a local group gets together here under the patio cover and plays traditional Hawaiian music. Twenty ukuleles and one guitar sound really good. Then a few of them sing some songs, then the hulu girls perform. These hula dancers ranged from 6 to 16 and all of their names started with a K. You can go west from the coffee plantation on road 480 which takes you to Hoolehua which is a little farming town with a big high school. In back of the high school is where the Macadamia Nut farm is. They offer tours but not every day. If you keep going west on 480 you run into dirt roads and small farms.
Now back to the coffee plantation. If you head north on road 470 (still paved) you will get to the overlook and the end of the road. this is where you can take the mule ride down the cliff to the Kalaupapa Peninsula. Or you can just look at it from the overlook. Really beautiful place except this is the site of the old leper colony. Now it is a national historical park. As long as you are here you should take the short hike from the overlook parking lot to Phallic Rock. It is what you think except I think it looks more like a turtle. Since this is the end of the road you need to turn around and go back down the road to road 460. Turn west again and you go right by the airport. Just past the airport a road heads south to Kuma Farms. Papaya season was in full swing (August), Mango season was over. They also had some local grown vegges and apple bananas and passion fruit, (my favorite).
This about takes care of the middle part of Molokai. Keep heading west to Maunaloa town and the west beaches on 460. Stay tuned for Part 2. Aloha.