Posts Tagged ‘molokai’

A day trip to the ‘friendly island’

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Today we got up early and headed to the harbor. We found a $5/day lot to park the car, but it’s really a scam 😉 It’s $5/day until 5pm. Since the ferry comes in at 5:45pm, we had to purchase another $5 pass that was good until 11:59pm. Oh well, it was still $2 cheaper than all the other lots.

The day’s agenda was to take a day trip to Moloka’i. We booked an all day guided tour. The island of Moloka’i is the 5th largest of the Hawaiian islands. Our tour was booked through the Moloka’i Ferry company. The tour included round trip transportation, a personal guide and lunch.

The tour included the following sites:

  • Pala’au State Park and Kalaupapa Overlook
  • Coffees of Hawaii
  • Purdy’s Macadamia Nut Farm
  • Father Damien Church
  • Kaunakakai Town with an afternoon stop for lunch.

We boarded the ferry and decided to sit on the top deck. The ride over was a bit rough and wet. The worse part of the trip was that some sort of soot or grease was being kicked out from the engines and got onto everything on the top deck. It basically ruined my favorite pair of shorts. I am not sure if any laundry chemicals at home will get it out. 🙁 “I will try writing them a letter to see if they will do anything about it, but I doubt it.”

Angie says: They have these t-shirts in the stores that say, “I survived the road to Hana.”  Forget that – they need shirts that say “I survived the ferry to Moloka’i.”  If you get sea sick, make sure you take some medication before you leave.  Luckily, Angie doesn’t get seasick and it was not too bad so I didn’t get sick either.

The ferry ride to Moloka’i took about an hour and forty-five minutes. We disembarked and met our tour guide Rudy. Rudy was a great guide. He loves to talk and share the history about his island. He has been a tour guide for 17 years and has seen the highs and lows of tourism on the island.

We boarded his Van and headed on our tour. Our first stop was at: Pala’au State Park. We were able to see the Kalaupapa Overlook that looks down upon the old leper colony. The view was breathtaking. From our guide, we learned that they do not allow anyone on the peninsula without a guide and limit the number of visitors to 100. They also have mule rides down the mountain, but because of the timing for the ferries, they can’t offer day trips. You would have to spend the night on Moloka’i then go in the morning. Perhaps a future trip we might do that.

In the same park they have the Phallic rock. This was a spiritual rock that is said to give fertility to many woman who have gone to it. Our guide says that many people have become pregnant after visiting the rock. I think it’s probably a legend, but hey, better safe than sorry (Angie and I are keeping our distance). The rock looks more like a turtle to me.

The area has signs asking visitors not to leave any money or tokens on the rock. Apparently all sorts of bizarre items have been left by people. We chose not to tempt fate and left after taking a picture. After a quick bathroom stop, Rudy gave us some more history about Father Damien and the leper colony. I also learned that the most populous tree on the island is the Norfolk Pine. I really like them and will be researching if they can be grown in San Diego.  They would like nice to the right and left of our property.

We loaded back up into the bus and headed to our next stop. We visited a Hawaiian owned macadamia nut farm. Purdy’s Macadamia Nut Farm is a very small 5 acre farm that he runs with his family. The Macadamia nut farm has trees that are about 90 years old. We learned that it takes about 4-5 years for a tree to start bearing it’s nuts. The most interesting things about a Macadamia nut tree is that it bears nuts all year round. A single tree can contain every life-cycle stage of a nut.

Several trees had each stage in them, it was pretty neat to see that. As we looked at the nuts on the ground, he told us that the only way to tell if a nut is ripe is to remove the husk after it falls from the tree and the shell will be a nice shiny brown. Only nuts that fall to the ground are harvested. It’s sort of like BBQ, it’s ready when it’s ready.

Once the nuts are harvested and husks removed, they are soaked in water then slightly roasted. This prevents the nut from cracking during roasting while the roasting shrinks the nut a little so that it doesn’t stick to the shell when cracking it. We got to crack the nuts with a hammer and a piece of U-shaped leather to keep the nut in place. We ate the nut after cracking it and it tasted good, not like the nuts you buy in a can. They had a more natural flavor to them. After cracking the nuts ourselves, we had a chance to sample lightly roasted nuts. Again, they tasted good, but more natural then the store bought. I guess that is what happens when no oils or preservatives have been added to the product.

After leaving the Nut Farm (pun intended) we drove to the Coffees of Hawaii. We were able to sample their coffees. Although I have stopped drinking coffee, I really like their toasted coconut coffee. I liked it enough I bought a bag. We also bought some sweets and a tropical smoothie that hit the spot.

After visiting the coffee plantation, we drove to the only remaining hotel on the island. We arrived at the Hotel Molokai & Hula Shores. We sat down for lunch. It was pretty good for hotel food. We sat along the water front and watched the waves roll by. Every few seconds though we would see a coconut floating in the water and float by. At one point it seemed like a long stream of coconuts were migrating along our shoreline. I wonder if those are harvested and eaten by anyone? It seems pretty nice to just have them show up at your feet.

After lunch we toured more of the island. We drove out to see one of the last remaining and un-expanded churches built by Father Damien. This church still holds services, but is too small for many other functions. Outside the church a full height statute of Father Damien has been erected. Our guide told us the story of Father Damien‘s saint-hood and how his body was buried, then dug up and shipped back to Belgium, to be dug up again, then shipped back to Hawaii. It should be noted that many sites state that he died of Leprosy. It is now known that you do not die of the disease, but of other diseases because your body is unable to fight of those diseases. Pneumonia was the ultimate cause of his death. It’s funny that even sites like Wikipedia get it wrong. Goes to show you why you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. You should always double and triple check the references.

Our last stop of the day was to the famous fish ponds of Moloka’i. A fish pond is basically a protected U-shaped area that blocks the ocean, starting from beach and ending at the beach. It is used to capture fish by having them swim into the pond when the tide is going out and trap them with gates. It is a very interesting way of capturing and breeding fish. The more I read about it, the more it makes sense to use natural behaviors and processes for fishing.

We headed back to the main part of town, which is basically a couple blocks long. It’s the home of the only stop signs on the island. We walked around the town and checked out the local shops. We purchased some postcards and ice cream. Most of the shops were closed because it was later in the afternoon. Many shops appear to be under remodel or closed altogether. We returned to the ferry landing and said our goodbyes. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you take this tour and ask for Rudy as your tour guide. If you go, might I suggest taking a spare T-shirt, as he seems to like shirts from all over the world.

We boarded the ferry for the rough ride back to Maui. It wasn’t all that bad, and I was able to get some sleep on the trip back. Since we had parked in the all day lot, we decided to eat dinner in Lahaina. I had heard a few people talking about the BBQ place there so I thought I would give it a try. The place is Famous Dave’s and I know it’s a chain, but since I had never eaten there, we would give it a try. The overall verdict is the price was reasonable, the portions large, but the BBQ itself was not all that great. The brisket rates a C+ on my scale. Angie didn’t like it at all as she said it had a really weird taste. I think the taste was due to the rub or sauce they used. I thought it was too dry and chewy. Not the best on my scale. The pork ribs rated a B+. They would have been a lot higher, but they left the outer membrane on the ribs. This is an absolute no-no in my book and just shows that they are lazy or too busy to prep the ribs properly. All in all though, for a commercial BBQ joint that has places in multiple states, I would recommend eating there if you are craving BBQ, just don’t order the Brisket.

After dinner we walked back to the car. Angie wanted shave ice again for dessert, so we drove back to Local Boys Shave Ice for some shave ice. We then drove back to the hotel and relaxed in the spa and then headed to bed.