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Molokai Meanderings part III

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Molokai has another paved road from the main town of Kaunkakai heading east along the coast. This stretches for 28 miles before ending at Halawa Valley. The last six or so miles is one lane wide and takes you along the rocky coast, past some quiet inlets, up some hills, through some hairpin turns,past the Puu O Hoku Ranch through some rainforest and ends at the Halawa Beach Park. Nice trip and very scenic, especially when you get to see up Halawa Valley to the waterfall. There is a short hike up to this waterfall through the rainforest but you need to hire a guide because it goes through private property. Get your name in early because they only go when they feel like it apparently. There is a picturesque little bay here that sort of splits into a shallow part and a deeper part that small boats can get into. A nice little fresh water stream empties into the bay here. This is where the first islanders settled but they experienced a tsunami and then a flash flood years ago so only a few families stayed. There is a pretty little green church you can look in and a large coconut tree covered field and a large stone ruin here at the end of the road.

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Back up the road the Puu O Hoku ranch might still offer lodging and a place to eat but they for sure no longer offer horseback rides through the hills and the rainforest. Too bad because this is really pretty country. Okay we are backtracking now heading west on 450 which ends back in Kaunakakai. At about mile marker 24 you go around a rocky point and this is a busy spot on the weekends with surfers riding the breakers offshore. Mile marker 20 gets you to the best snorkeling beach on the island. This is called Murphy beach. It has nice white sand and shade trees that offer perfect picnic spots. The water is shallow though, nothing over four feet deep until you get way out to the breakers and you probably will not see many bigger fish at least I didn't. It is still a fun place to snorkel though. This is about the last beach with clear water. Most of the rest of the shoreline all the way back to Kaunakakai has ancient fishponds or mangrove or mesquite growing right down to the waters edge. The fishponds were made centuries ago by piling up rock fences out in the shallow water offshore. The Hawaiians put a gate with small openings in it so little fish could swim into the pond. Then they grew too big to get through the fence and the people caught them. These fishponds still have remnants of the walls so you can see how extensive they were. A couple still appear to be functional. the water in these fishponds is murky and shallow and not much fun to swim in. Yeah I tried it. Hard to resist when there is a nice sandy beach next to one. Some locals still wade out in them and fish with nets. there are a couple small man-made small boat harbors along here. We were here for the double whammy hurricanes that hardly touched Molokai but hit the big Island and then Maui. Right afterwards a small sailboat was stuck in the shallow surf near Murphy's Beach. It was layed over on it's side with water lapping into the cockpit. I'm guessing it slipped it's moorings maybe in Maui and drifted across the channel. Anyway a couple days later it had been rescued.

The road goes by St.Josephs Church which is one of several built by Father Damien. He is the priest that helped the lepers on the Kalaupapa Peninsula. Before he came the lepers were mostly just dumped there to fend for themselves. Inland along here is the Volcanic mountain that created this end of the island. It gets up to around 5000 feet and has rainforest up on top. Along here at about mile marker 14 there is a small convenience store/ snack bar which is the only place to get a meal or buy supplies until you get to within 2 miles of Kaunakakai. They make a good hamburger here. The rest of the drive back to town goes through mixed forest with lots of mesquite and coconut palms. There are some small farms and ranches, a couple small taro patches and the closer you get to town the thicker the houses along the roadside get. Two miles from downtown and right on the shoreline is the Molokai Hotel. They serve great drinks and mediocre food and have live island music on Friday afternoon. The same people we saw at the coffee plantation were playing.

I guess that concludes my Molokai meanderings. I leave you with this advice. Rent a four-wheel drive if you come here, sign up for the Halawa Valley hike right away, consider staying at the Wave Crest Resort which is at mile marker 13 on road 450--( It is very well maintained), and be sure to buy your groceries in Kaunakakai before Sunday. Oh yeah, don't go swimming with your camera and your rental car keys in your swimming suit pocket either. Who the heck was the smart ass that put pockets on swimming suits anyway?

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