I’ve always considered myself a warm-weather person. In the winter I’m usually just trying to make it from one warm environment to another (home to car, car to work, and so on). Now don’t get me wrong, I love Michigan and the ever-changing seasons, but sometimes a girl just needs some sun and the outdoors. And there’s just something about the ocean that resets my soul- maybe it’s because I’m a water sign? I don’t know, but when January hits, it’s usually onward Hawaii!
You might already know that I’ve been to Hawaii many, many times. I used to live there and my husband has a ton of family there, so it’s no secret that it’s one of my most favorite places in the world. But this trip was a little different. We went to Kauai (which we’ve been to many times) BUT we also booked a 2 day trip to the neighboring island, Molokai, which neither one of us had ever been to. And wow! What a special place.
The island of Molokai has a population of around 8,000 people. It is so remote; we would drive for miles without seeing a single car. There’s also only one main town on the island, Kaunakakai, where they have a few small restaurants and grocery stores. And the locals are so nice! Later I learned that Molokai is known as “The Friendly Island”, which totally makes sense.
The rest of the island consists of rolling hills and maybe a few condos, stretching along some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. Below is Kepuhi Beach, which was near our condo, and especially stunning.
One of the coolest things we did on Molokai was visit an isolated peninsula of the island that was, and still is, used as a leper colony. Starting in the late 1800’s, people that contracted leprosy were sent to this area of the island and isolated from the rest of the world. The only way to get there, still to this day, is by private plane, boat, or a 3.5 mile hike down a steep mountainside.
Originally, we wanted to do a mule ride down the mountain but we didn’t plan ahead and it was sold out (it books up months in advance). So, we opted to sign up for the hike instead. After hiking downhill for an hour and a half, we arrived in Kalaupapa. A local guide gave us a tour, telling us the history of the area and showing us where the lepers were housed.
We then took a short bus ride and toured the grounds of Kalawao, where the famous Father Damien and Sister Marianna Cope (both were later sainted) helped thousands of people with leprosy. We visited grave sites, and learned the incredible story of this special place. It was fascinating! One man with leprosy even passed us by in his truck and waved. We also witnessed where the lepers were dropped off at the peninsula, often times put into the water to swim to shore (see below).
Finally, the hike back up. UGH. On the way down, we were ahead of the mule tour which worked perfect. But the hike up, we weren’t fast enough, so the mules passed us by. That meant, not only did we have to walk up a very steep grade for 3.5 miles, but we also had to dodge mule poop at the same time. Ha! I’m glad I can laugh about this now.
Overall, this tour is a must-do if you are going to Molokai- either by mule or by foot (if you’re in decent shape). Molokai was a truly surreal experience and something I’ll never forget.
Next we hopped on a quick flight back to Kauai.
And here we did all sorts of fun things, like trying out amazing restaurants and food trucks. I highly recommend Fresh Bite (below) and Turmeric, located in Hanalei. Also, be sure to drop by Living Foods Market in Poipu, which is a bit pricy but has some great vegan options. And Papaya’s Market in Kapaa is a must for healthy groceries and lunch.
We visited (almost daily) my favorite coffee shop, Java Kai, located in Kapaa,
hiked through Koke’e mountain and took a million photos,
, and explored and prayed in a sacred forest.
We also hung out out with wild turkeys (on Molokai) and boars in their natural habitat,
,witnessed the spectacular Wailua Falls.
,drank fresh coconut juice straight out of coconuts,
and had fun at the beach together.
And finally my favorite moment…listening to the waves and feeling completely content in this world.
Hawaii will always have a special place in my heart. Have you been there? If not, what are you waiting for? =)
Do you follow my Instagram page? There I share more personal photos and my travel adventures. =) Aloha.