Molokai Mo Bettah

Video by my talented friend Lauren!

This past month I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful island of Moloka'i!!

My dad lived here as a teenager long ago and I grew up flipping through his old film photos of luaus, waterfalls, and pristine beaches. It's one of the many reasons I got into photography: I too wanted to capture something beautiful!

I asked some friends if they wanted to join and soon it was a girls trip! We went in with literally no expectations. The thing about Moloka'i is that you can't find much info about it online. I like it that way. It made each day feel unknown and like we had discovered something new! We depended on the direction of the locals and our own wandering and in the end we had some of the best adventures of my life.

To keep that spirit of discovery and adventure as well as prevent myself from contributing to the exploitation of this island, I'm going to keep this post pretty vague as far as locations and ideas go. If you do make it out to this wonderful place I would suggest making friends and going wherever the wind takes you! I promise you'll get the most out of it that way!

Although we stayed in an Airbnb, I'm dying to get back here and just camp. It's the perfect island for camping! Whether you off-road up the mountain or stay the night at one of the many empty beaches, it's a camping paradise.

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We started out by simply exploring the tiny town of Kaunakakai - the same place my dad would grab ice cream from after a long day of pineapple picking. The locals were BEYOND friendly. Everyone we met stopped and talked to us and asked us what they could do to help us around!

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In the morning we took a drive to the wharf thinking maybe we could find someone with a boat that would be willing to take us out on such short notice. We didn't see anyone, but the miles of calm reflective water that stretched out before us caught our eye. We spent some time playing in the water and freaking out at how beautiful it was!

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For lunch we were eating at a place called Hula Bean Cafe (delicious little spot with paninis, smoothies, and breakfast) and expressed that we wanted to see the sea cliffs on the north shore of the island. We didn't really want to pay the huge fee to hike into the leper colony, so we were looking for someone with a boat. They told us about "Unko Walter" - aka Uncle Walter - who happens to be the only one on the island who goes to the north shore. We got his number and called immediately!

He answered and was a little curt but gave us a price we were willing to pay to get out there!! We set our appointment for the next morning, stoked out of our minds.

Now we just needed to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. So we drove to one end of the island! We picked up some delicious acai bowls at a random gas station, drove past pristine and empty beaches, and ended up in a gorgeous valley of cliffs that overlooked the ocean and two huge waterfalls.

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We explored the beach a bit and after talking to the people who lived in the area, we decided to hike to the falls. It was a bit sketchy and involved some trespassing (so we don't recommend doing it unless you book a tour) but overall a fairly easy hike other than the river crossing.

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The hike was absolutely gorgeous and we stood in awe as an incredible rushing waterfall bigger than I had ever seen came into view! I felt like I was in Jurassic Park or something. Moloka'i felt so.... wild. This place was sacred and untouched. You could feel the spiritual energy throughout the whole land and we knew it wasn't a place to mess with or disrespect.

We sat in awe watching the falls for a while and decided to hop in. We learned a little tip for swimming in waterfalls in Hawai'i: you should lay a tea leaf on the water and if it floats, you are invited to enter. If it sinks, you should stay out. You should also always be grateful for what the land is providing you and say thank you. This may seem like a foreign concept for some people on the mainland but I've learned that if you respect the land, it will respect you back.

We swam in the falls, explored some caves, and as the sun started to go down, made our way back. We all felt so peaceful inside.

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As we drove back I laid in the back of the truck and watched several rainbows appear in the sky as the trees rushed by. I felt like the earth was showing off a little that day! Nature always gets my heart beating fast, like I'm in love or something.

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We returned to the wharf to watch the sunset, the light settling on glassy water like a mirror. Sailboats dotted the gold horizon and we laughed and played and of course Julianne recorded her signature sunset time lapse videos.

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That night we ate delicious pizza at Molokai Pizza! Just a warning though, like pretty much anything on the island, things run slowly - on island time. It took a while to get our food but it tasted extra good when it finally came.

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We were so excited about our boat ride the next morning we could hardly sleep!! Being in a little condo with my girlfriends made me feel like a teenager again - I love sleepovers!!

We woke up bright and early and headed to the 20 mile mark to meet up with Walter. We were greeted by a small crowd of Hawaiians who gave out warm hugs and kisses on the cheek like candy. We waded out to the boat and joined Walter and Ona on one of the best experiences of my life!

Every corner we turned just kept getting prettier and prettier. Actually, pretty doesn't even cover it. What word can you even use to describe endless waterfalls cascading over massive green sea cliffs over black sand beaches and deep blue ocean. Not to mention caves and even secret houses built on the mountain's edge. I loved sitting on top of the boat with my feet dangling over the front, shades of blue zipping past. The water was so clear you could see rocks and reef on the bottom. We even saw a baby shark!

I felt so absolutely happy and free on that boat. There's just something special about being on the ocean. I feel connected when I am. I didn't want that day to end.

Walter wanted us to share his business with others, so if you make your way out to Molokai let me know and I'll give you his contact info! It's definitely not for the faint-hearted but perfect for the adventurous soul.

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After the boat ride we spent the afternoon being lazy and swimming on a random beach. As the sun began setting we made one more stop before we had to go home the next day.

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We were a little scared of the No Trespassing signs surrounding the coconut grove, so we almost didn't go in. Soon enough though some friendly locals pulled over and offered to show us around. They took time out of their day to teach us more about Hawaiian culture than I think I've learned in all my two years of living here!

We learned that this beach was where King Kamehameha trained with his warriors. They even bathed in the crystal clear freshwater spring that flowed through the grove. We learned about "mana" and why it's still so powerful in Molokai. It made me a little sad for Oahu, but I vowed to do more to protect it's land and be respectful to its sacredness.

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Pretty soon we found ourselves sharing a sunset with a few different families including some adorable kids who loved to show off their freshly caught prawns and fish! We laughed as they showed off their tricks jumping and flipping into the water. I truly felt the aloha spirit (not the manufactured tourist trap kind) in those moments. Molokai stole my heart!

I will be back soon, beautiful island!!

xoxo Heather