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It’s never too early to think about escaping next year’s cold weather, but what about the harsh summer temps as well? In this series of essays, we’ve looked at Oahu, the Big Island, Maui and Kauai, and it is now time for the next one, Molokai, and you can head there now to escape the heat, or plan ahead to escape the cold. Your choice.
To get there, the best option seems to be to fly into Kahului Airport on Maui and take a ninety-minute ferry to Kaunakakai Harbor. In the middle of November, the flight would be about $830 a person from Chicago to Maui for a weeklong stay, while the beginning of August is over $1,000 per person. The other option is flying to Honolulu and then catching a commuter plane to Molokai Airport ($1,030 and $1,150 for the same time frames as above, respectively), but come on, a boat ride is much cooler (and only $68 each after fees.)
In researching Molokai, the first thing that came to mind was its history of hosting those with Hansen’s Disease (known in those times as a leper colony.) Since 1969, the order to keep sufferers of Hansen’s Disease isolated has been lifted, but for over a hundred years, the sentence for those with the disease was to separate forever from friends and family. Today, you can glimpse life there through tours, either $199 per person for a mule ride or $69 per person for a 3.2 miles hike into the park and out. If you go in July, you may be able to catch a Christmas in July celebration, when once a year a barge arrives with supplies for the rest of the year.
Perhaps it is the perception of Hansen’s Disease that has kept Molokai firmly set in the past, and therefore much less developed than the surrounding islands. Per National Geographic, it makes the top 10 of the sustainable and untouched islands of the world.
Once you’ve arrived at Kaunakakai, you can take a slow, (and they do mean slow – 45 mph is the highest posted speed limit on the island – just like the scenery, the pace of life is untouched by the modern day) leisurely drive to Halawa Beach Park. On the way, you can just enjoy coastal scenes, and when you arrive at the beach, you’ll probably find yourself alone on this curved beach and free to explore on your own. You can also arrange to take a guided hike up to the 250-foot Moaula Falls. (Guided because it crosses through private property.)
Speaking of the guided tour, the Hotel Molokai offers the tours and a great place to stay. From there, you can go scuba diving at Hawaii’s only barrier reef, visit the fish ponds formerly reserved for royalty or tour Purdy’s macadamia nut farm. Eventually though, just relaxing and slowing down will get the best of you and fortunately Molokai offers several beaches where you can do just that. It is then that you will truly get into the spirit of this relatively unspoiled island.