Molokai is the Hawaiian island that time and tourists have forgotten. We knew we were in for a treat from the moment we arrived to catch our flight to Molokai from Honolulu. Airline personnel came along with a piece of paper and pencil – asking how much we weighed and assigning seats. My son asked to switch seats with my husband so he could snag a window seat. “You can’t switch seats, but don’t worry – every seat on this plane is a window seat,” he was told. The boys looked at me apprehensively when I explained that you couldn’t switch seats because they had balanced the load of the plane by our weight. As we climbed on board the micro-puddle jumper, each seat was indeed a window seat. Our baggage handler also served as our co-pilot.
We took to the air for the short flight, spotting migrating humpback whales below in the crystal-clear waters. A very short while later, we landed on Molokai and joined our friends. We were greeted graciously by our host and quickly adorned with homemade leis. Gathering our things, our two families headed over to the place we’d call “home” for the week.
The estate sat at the end of a street, surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation. It was, quite literally, the end of the road. Beautiful, large and spacious, the kids quickly scattered to explore the grounds and claim their rooms. But I couldn’t focus on choosing rooms or unpacking because all I could hear was the deafening roar of the surf.
The beach. That’s why we had rented the house. It sat, perched on a small hill, facing the beach. Although we had seen video of the property, it really didn’t prepare us for what we would experience. A quick ramble down the hill and you were on a large expanse of beach. You could look for what seemed like miles in each direction and not see a single soul. The winter months brought strong currents and amazing, crazy waves that come crashing to the shore. And at dusk, the sun sunk over the waves, the water ablaze in pinks and oranges. All night long you could hear the gentle roar of that beach. I could tell you it was stunning. It was. But words can’t really capture the beauty of that beach and the time we had there.
Us moms were up before the kids, coffee in hand, for early morning walks down the beach. The dads built giant sandcastles. The kids would rise, throw on swimsuits and head to the beach where they spent endless hours riding those waves. When they grew weary, they would return to the house to play pool or cards. We spent our days in swimsuits, bare-footed with salt in our hair. And at sunset, we all descended the hill back to the beach to see what Mother Nature had in store for us. We were never disappointed.
We could have spent the entire week at the house, on the beach. It would have been easy. But we did venture out. We charted a small boat and went in search of whales. We snorkeled with turtles. And waded through waist deep water and hiked through the dense jungle in the Halawa Valley to a spectacular double waterfall. We stood on a cliff and peered down at the infamous Molokai leper colony. And we hiked back to an ancient site of love and fertility to admire the Phallic Rock that has been standing erect for generations.
At each turn of the way, we were greeted and guided by the locals of Molokai. Proud of their island and culture and intent on preserving it, they were happy to share it with us. We learned about the history of local fishponds, churches and important local figures. We ate fish caught fresh that morning by islanders. We drank coconut milk straight from coconuts knocked out of trees. We listened to Hawaiian music sung by Uncle Eddie and learned to dance the hula – at a private luau right at our house.
Most importantly, we learned the lesson of “Molokai time.” Things didn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes things broke. People ran late. At moments, the weather didn’t cooperate. And restaurants and grocery stores closed early. But that was ok. Life on Molokai was simple and moved at an incredibly slow pace. And, so did we while there.