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Report 1896: Two Travellers on Maui, January 25 - Feb 5, 2011

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Winter 2011

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Page 9 of 14: A Day on Moloka'i with Michael and Melissa - Tuesday February 1

photo by Michael Grimes

Melissa, in the Halawa Valley, on Moloka'i

Off before 7:00am with our friends Michael and Melissa to the harbour at Lahaina to buy return tickets for the ferry to Moloka'i, another of the islands of Hawaii.

Both Michael and I had been working on this excursion. We were trying to book a package that included both the ferry and a car rental. I found one source; Michael got a better price; I double-checked the departure time - but neither of us actually made the reservation - a mini comedy of errors. But we were assured that we could get a car when we got there.

On Moloka'i we did manage to rent a car for the day and spent the next seven hours touring this small island. By ferry, Moloka'i is just under two hours away from Maui, approximately 38 miles long and 10 miles wide, with a population of 8,100 and a dramatically different culture and economy. No mainland surfers, timeshares or large developments here; this is a much more genuine Hawaiian experience. This was also a new experience for both Melissa and Michael.

The main settlement is the harbour town of Kaunakakai, on Moloka'i's southern coast. One of the attractions of Kaunakakai is a visit to the Kanemitsu Bakery, and its famous sweet bread - that's where we headed. But we, especially Michael, were in for a disappointment. The bakery is open six days a week; it is closed Tuesdays. So we adjourned to the nearby Aunty Ruby's Café for breakfast before setting out to explore the island.

We turned east out of Kaunakakai and drove about 30 miles to the end of the island. A few miles out of town, just beyond another small community, it almost felt as if we had the island to ourselves - very little traffic, deserted beaches, few structures. The most distinctive man-made features were private fishponds at several places along the shoreline. At the end of the island we came upon the stunningly beautiful Halawa Valley.

Retracing our path, we drove around Kaunakakai, turned north and after six miles came to the Kalaupapa Lookout, and a very emotional experience. We were looking down on Kalaupapa peninsula where the Belgian priest, Father Damien, arrived in 1873 to assist the colony that had been exiled to the remote area at the foot of very imposing sea cliffs, suffering from Hansen's disease, the proper term for leprosy. The colony is still active with a dozen afflicted people still living there. The view from the Lookout was a view into history. The emotional effect was unexpected, but powerful.

Before leaving the island we visited Purdy's Macadamia Nut farm. Three generations have made a living harvesting nuts from a small grove of 50 trees on an acre of land. The experience was "hands-on" as we cracked the shells of raw nuts and enjoyed the contents. An interesting, entertaining and educational experience on Moloka'i.

David and Marcel met us at the dock when we returned and draped leis around our necks. They announced that they had reserved an ocean-side table at Lahaina Prime Rib & Fish Co. restaurant for our final evening together. David and Marcel were flying back to Honolulu the next day, for a day before returning home to Canada. We are already talking about Next Year On Maui. It's been great spending time with my youngest brother.

Next: On the Road to Hana

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