Molokai - the most Hawaiian of islands

by Deston Nokes   

When I flew from Honolulu to Molokai, the culture shock was akin to leaving Las Vegas for a small town in Utah. Gone were the towering hotels, expansive resorts, chain eateries, blinking neon, and surging swarms of humanity on Waikiki. 

On Molokai, it’s quiet. It’s gentle. The island is only 10-miles wide and 38-miles long. There isn’t a lot of structured activity and visitors should be prepared to entertain themselves exploring, snorkeling, hiking, making crafts and just enjoying the sensation of just being in Hawaii. Sportsmen find the hunting and fishing terrific, and there’s just one nine-hole golf course, where the pace is said to be …  leisurely.  

Halawa Valley: Okalani Ganeau-Brown chants permission to enter Molokai’s sacred valley Photo by Deston Nokes..

Kaunakakai, the island’s largest “town,” is just three blocks long, but we did find the island’s best ice cream at Kamo'i Snack-n-Go, and we lined up for the warm bread made daily at Kanemitsu's Bakery.

Here, every beach is public and no building is higher than a coconut tree. There are no traffic lights, escalators or elevators. The Hotel Molokai is the only hotel unless visitors opt for a vacation rental. And traffic? A local saying defines a Molokai traffic jam as “two trucks stopped in the road talking story.”

Mia Gains-Alt, an Oakdale, Calif., transplant and former Bravo TV’s Top Chef contestant, fell in love with Hawaii while shooting the reality cooking show on location in Kona. In a fit of inspiration, she applied for the chef position, and moved her husband, three daughters and even her mother to the rural island. 

“The people here are really tight knit, and there’s a certain amount of freedom in that,” Gains-Alt said. “And, as a parent, I love that Molokai is so safe for our kids. I have peace, sanity, and just don’t feel like I need to go anywhere else.” 

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