For anyone who knows us well, Hawaii holds a very special place in our hearts. For three amazing years, we lived on Oahu and basically fulfilled the role of perpetual tourists as we soaked up all the islands, traditions and culture.
Few would argue that when you live someplace, you really get to know the people, ins/outs of the destination and perhaps how to really experience the place as a local would. It’s because of this that we love to send clients to Hawaii, but maybe not in the stereotypical fashion. Rather, we like to explore the hidden side of Hawaii. This past spring break we shared that hidden side with some dear friends as we took them to the island of Molokai.
Molokai is one of Hawaii’s many gems. It’s an island located between Oahu and Maui and only 7,000 people call it home. There isn’t a tourism infrastructure like many of the other Hawaiian Islands, and that’s intentionally so. The locals, while they like having visitors, want to keep the pristine waters, undeveloped land and long-standing cultural traditions as untouched as possible. Visitors who do go there, go in with a deep level of respect and a love for getting off the beaten path.
This trip back to Molokai, we spent five glorious days at a private residence we rent for our clients (and us when we’re lucky!). The house is located on Papohaku Beach – Hawaii’s longest white sand beach, which is three miles long. You’ll rarely see anyone else on it. The beach is an easy walk from the property (just down a small hill) and the views from the house, especially at sunset, are breathtaking. In fact, speaking of views, we often see whales breaching right out front as we’re sitting on the deck!
Because of the house’s configuration, it’s perfect for 2-3 families to share. There’s a main house, guest house and pool house and can comfortably sleep upwards of 12-16 people (more if kids and sleeping bags are involved!).
For days we enjoyed the house, its pool and hot tub, walks on the beach, visiting the local organic farm to pick up fruit/vegetables for meals and even a private luau, complete with hula lessons. (Maasi, the property’s caretaker, slow cooked a pig over an open fire all day in preparation for the feast!)
While we would have been more than happy to not leave the house at all that week, we did venture out for two amazing excursions. One was a hike through Halawa Valley. What makes this hike so “hidden” is its location on private land and the fact that you are not allowed in the valley unless you know the family who owns it. Luckily, we do! So, Greg himself took us through his taro patches, along the river, beside the ancient Hawaiian ruins and into an amazing pool at the base of a double waterfall (where of course we all went for a swim). Along the way, he told us of his family’s heritage in the area, how they worship and respect the land and how preserving the authentic Hawaiian heritage is vital. We left there loving Hawaii more than we already had!
Our other excursion was out on the water (and under it!). We chartered a fishing and snorkeling boat to take the nine of us out along the coastline. Of course, it was beautiful, but the wildlife viewing and snorkeling was out of this world. It was whale season so we were able to see several whales, including a mom and baby. From the boat, we saw five huge manta rays (Jim and I jumped in with our snorkel gear on to see them up close but they were nervous around us and swam away). The coral was vibrant – one of the only untouched reefs in Hawaii – and the schools of fish were plentiful. Green sea turtles were everywhere. Between snorkeling and spotting them from the boat, I bet we saw 25+.
Many people have been to Hawaii. They’ve done Waikiki and they’ve probably done Maui. But we love to ask them “…but have you really done Hawaii?” We adore Kauai and the Big Island. They’re unique in their own right. However, if you want to see Hidden Hawaii, meet some of the most genuine people in the world and experience authentic culture, we’d find it very hard to not recommend a visit to Molokai!
For more information about Hawaii, or the island of Molokai, please email me at LindaB@PiqueTravel.com.