3 Legendary Places
1. Halawa Valley: Long kapu (off limits), this valley, with its ancient temple walls and sacred taro patches is steeped in myth and inexplicable happenings – home to ancient prophets and rivers said to suddenly change course. A knowledgeable guide is a must to hear all the stories of this valley. Try Molokai Outdoors.
2. Kalaupapa: Walk or hire a mule to take you to the settlement of Kalaupapa on the island’s north shore. Once home to a leper colony, today you can tour the area, visit St. Philomena Church and see how the handful of remaining residents live at the foot of the world’s highest sea cliffs. nps.gov/kala
3. Aloha Music Camp: Learn to play the slack-key guitar and the ukulele, study hula and the lovely nuances of Hawaiian language. Also you can build your own ukulele with luthier Dennis Lake. Participants at this weeklong camp stay at The Beach Village at Molokai Ranch, a secluded retreat on Molokai’s west side. Rates from $825 per person per week, including accommodations, meals and workshops.
The Real Swing
According to moolelo, or oral history, a woman named Lai lai made her home at Kaana on Mount Maunaloa in west Molokai. There she astonished all with her beguiling dance. For five generations her secrets passed only to her descendants, who performed their magic only at Kaana. Then Laka, a descendent of the Lai lai clan, spread the knowledge of hula throughout the Hawaiian islands. Now the birth of hula is celebrated each year on the third weekend in May with the Molokai Ka Hula Piko, a festival where you can learn this uniquely Hawaiian dance. Kaana is now private property, but on the Saturday of the celebration the gates swing open from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. – when the rising sun symbolizes renewal and rebirth – for all to experience its mana, or spiritual power.
In January, the island celebrates Ka Molokai Makahiki, a festival of Hawaiian games and competitions, including ulu maiku (a circular stone pitched through stakes), kukini (foot races), kimo (similar to jacks) and konane (similar to checkers) – honoring Lono, the god of peace and fertility.
Molokai was once the spiritual center of the Hawaiian islands, a place where the kahunas, or Hawaiian priests, wielded the strongest mana. “Molokai Pule O’O,”goes the ancient saying, “Molokai with its powerful prayers.”
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication