Molokai is about 90 minutes by ferry from Maui. The ferry schedule is determined by the work schedule of the folks who live on Molokai and work in Maui. That meant we had to get up and drive for an hour before boarding the 7:15am ferry that brought these folks to town for their jobs. Only on vacation do we get up so early! At the dock we rented a car and drove all but one of the roads on the island by 3:30 when the ferry left to pick up the working people and bring them home again. We drove about 115 miles altogether.
The tour company gave us a cheat sheet so that we could find places to eat. We did not see a real restaurant or grocery store the entire day. You could catch a bite at the bakery or the natural food store or the Chevron station or at Mrs. K's concession next to the bank. Only one hotel is open and functioning at the moment. Most of the larger buildings I noticed were churches. Molokai has much of the same natural beauty we have enjoyed on the other islands. As with the others, the west side is wet and the east is dry. Zoning is unheard of here. We saw lovely homes next to domiciles which were a trailer stapled onto a shack fronted by a tarp covered porch. Some yards looked like their owners never threw anything away and were waiting to find a new use for all the recyled items lying along the road. A few miles from the airport a huge resort has been built, surrounded by land that is ready for development. We saw a steady stream of fire hydrants planted in the open and empty fields. The resort looked rather empty and slighly spooky. It was near the widest and longest beach we have seen in our time in Hawaii. If I was a gambler I would buy a few acres here. It's only a matter of time.
The reason I knew about Molokai at all was its history as a leper colony. The saintly Father Damian devoted his life to caring for these ailing folks who were dumped here to live out the rest of their lives. I had imagined that this whole island was where they lived. Then we drove to an overlook of the Palaupapa Peninsula. This flat piece of land is fronted by a 500 foot mountain that totally isolates it from the rest of the island. We could not get there by car although it does have a small landing strip. The next time we come we may opt for the three hour mule trip that takes tourists down the mountain for a closer look. In our modern point of view it was cruel for the Hawaiians to isolate their family members in this inhospitable place and never see them again, but fear of the disease lead to this desperate move.