Hello Friends and Family,

1982 - HI, Moloka’i, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

After visiting Maui, I flew over to Moloka’i. It's a short flight on a small aircraft. I do seem to recall that the airline flying between these two islands was different every time I have flown there.

But visiting Moloka’i is definitely an adventure. The island has only about 7,000 residents, of whom 62% are part- or full-Hawaiian. In my experience, the locals are quite welcoming as long as you respect them, the island, and their customs. Tourism is not as big a business as on the other Hawaiian islands — there are fewer hotel rooms available, fewer rental cars, fewer restaurants, fewer shops, etc. As a result, the island does not need a big airport. I always like to point out that at MKK, the boarding gate is literally a gate — check out where those young boys are standing. But for the adventurer, these are not drawbacks but opportunities for new experiences.

Upon arrival, deplaning and claiming luggage (it only takes a few minutes), I picked up my rental car and headed to the west side of the island. It is interesting to see a Sheraton Resort — and to learn that Sheraton has been one of the vanguards of hotel-building in Hawai’i. I was not staying there but nearby at the Paniolo Hale (meaning "cowboy house").

Here is a tip from an experienced Hawai’i visitor (me), stay at a condo if you have a choice. They provide more room and cooking facilities — not that you want to cook every meal but who wants to have to go find a restaurant three times a day? Plus, if you (like me) end up with a "doggie bag" from a restaurant meal, it makes a great lunch the next day — if you have a refrigerator to store it in to keep it fresh.

Because of the limited development on Moloka’i, the Sheraton became a place to relax with a drink, grab a meal, or check out the gift shop even if you were staying elsewhere in the area. In fact, it was here that I found one of my absolute all-time favorite books — Aztec by Gary Jennings. I had brought a Tom Clancy novel with me on the trip but had finished it by the time I landed on Moloka’i and needed something else to read. As you might expect, the selection in the gift shop was quite limited and I did not hold out much hope for this paperback but hoped that it might amuse me until I returned home. Surprise, it did much more than amuse me — I was totally absorbed by this story of an Aztec man at the time of the Spanish Conquest — and I mean TOTALLY absorbed. And Gary Jennings became one of my favorite authors and I went on to read every one of his novels.

Back to the history of the Sheraton, it eventually closed — hotel, restaurant, gift shop, swimming pool, and golf course! And not just closed — but abandoned. There are still many buildings in the larger complex which contain condominiums that are still intact and in use — the Paniolo Hale is still listed on VRBO.com so at least that part of my memories is alive.

The grounds at the Sheraton were lovely with grass looking like a golf course — just next to the golf course. Walking the property was great fun.

Here is a closer image of one of the hotel's buildings. If you are interested, you can see how it looks in its abandoned, depressed state by clicking here. The web page also contains quite a few short messages from folks who had stayed here, many of whom were shocked at its current state.

Additionally, I previously published some photos of the abandoned Tent-A-Low accommodations a bit to the west of this spot — click here to view them.

Still, one has to say that the Sheraton certainly chose a beautiful spot to build their first resort on Moloka’i — even if it is no longer in business.

And since there is so little resort development on Moloka’i, there are fantastic vistas unencumbered by monstrous concrete high-rise structures (as one finds on Waikiki and Ka’anapali) along these spectacular beaches.

And I can assure you that if you visit O’ahu, Maui, the Big Island, Kaua’i, or Lana’i, you will not often be the only one on the beach. Here on Moloka’i, this lady had it all to herself.

Well, almost. A handful of local kids were checking out the waves — together with a two-man audience. The waves were nice — not the killer waves you find on some beaches.

And as I panned the camera a bit further to the right, you can see the closest hole on the golf course. It was so lovely then — not so much if you visit today.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com