Top Things Not to Do in Molokai, Hawaii

Sunset on beach at Molokai Hotel

Sunset on beach at Molokai Hotel

If you ask me, but you didn’t and maybe should, travel agents have it all screwed up about the order of things for a winter vacation hopping islands in the South Pacific. They have their own order of how they believe a vacation should progress, from worst to best, just like Sacramento Realtors have an order in which they often show homes, which isn’t, to say the least, the closest home next in distance as much as it might be the one you want to and should buy for last, so now that you’ve compared every other dog, let’s tour the home you will absolutely love, shall we?

I mean, everybody thought I was a bit nuts to “downgrade” the experience of my winter vacation by going to Molokai last. The way they see it, my vacation was backwards because I did the most luxurious and pampered, laid-back vacation I could possibly afford first by going to Four Seasons in Manele Bay in Lanai. If I had gone directly to the South Pacific instead of via Vanuatu from the Four Seasons, the feeling would have been different. But I tempered it in the middle with a 3-day stay at the Moana Surfrider in Honolulu for that “shock-back-to-reality therapy” I needed, so by the time I reached Vanuatu, a bed with clean sheets seemed appealing. See, it works out in my convoluted manner.

Visiting Molokai is giving me a chance to unwind, to re-discover seaside peacefulness without all of that tourist bullshit you get at high-end resorts: is everything all right ma’am, what do you think, how did you like, what can we do, all of that in-your-face nonstop pretentious bullshit that can make you wanna puke. Molokai will allow me to ease back into a society in Sacramento where the ocean isn’t sucking my toes and Diet Coke is served in pull-tab cans, without ice, straws, lime or accompanied by a side of cashews, where if we forget to stock the ‘frig I sip it warm. In Molokai you get: would you like a plastic fork with that styrofoam box of take-out chicken, and I say yes but eating grilled chicken with my fingers is actually preferred.

Which brings me to the things I will not be doing in Molokai. My first night here, I was so exhausted from traveling for 2 days that I was willing to shave my head bald in exchange for a dinner delivered to my door. Bear in mind, there is no room service. Not only is there no room service, but there is no restaurant within a good two miles. I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering if I am going to either eat dirt or drink myself to death, and the same thing occurred to me. There is a bar but there is no restaurant.

Not to mention, I have no car. I have two feet but let’s get real, they are not walking four miles roundtrip in the dark for dinner. If I have to walk four miles, I may as well shoot a deer. My bartender shot a deer and showed me a photo. Looked just like Bambi, of course. Head all bloody. Why did you shoot him in the head, I asked? So they could use the entire body for food. He took a hunting guide with him from California, and then they argued over who should shoot the deer.

Bartender: You kill him; you haven’t shot a deer in Molokai.

Hunting Guide from California: No, No, that’s OK, I shoot lots of things other places; you go ahead and shoot.

Bartender: No, I insist. You are a guest.

Hunting Guide from California: I just get a thrill by the shooting, you do it.

Apparently this exchange went on almost long enough for the deer to relocate before it met its fate. In the head and in a photo on the bartender’s cellphone. It will supply the bartender’s family with ground hamburger for a while. I don’t know why they don’t call it venison-burger.

Another thing I won’t be doing, apart from ordering room service or visiting an onsite restaurant, is riding a mule. I thought I really really wanted to ride a mule, primarily because I coveted the bragging rights. There are lots of animals I have ridden such as an elephant and this guy from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, but never a mule. It seemed so idyllic, riding through the unspoiled countryside, looking over cliffs to the sea, all on the back of a slow moving, ambling along mule.

There have never been any accidents, the bartender said, but some people have jumped off the cliffs. Why, would somebody jump off a cliff? Because the road the mules travel on drops thousands of feet in elevation and it’s narrow enough for a mule, meaning you’re looking right over the edge down to the water on that mule’s back. They freak out.

Ya gotta trust the mule, says the bartender, the mule doesn’t want to die.

Says who? That mule could be suffering from end-of-life issues or swollen feet or maybe just an itty bitty toothache painful enough to cause a sidestep mistake, which will cost him and all persons on his back everything they hold precious and dear in the world. The only thing anybody could utter in commentary at that point would be: oops.

I do not want to put my trust in a mule. I realize that I am giving up the Talk Story rights around the bar the following evening, but I decide I would feel better not having to actually experience a heart attack to talk about it. If you’re thinking about things not to do in Molokai because maybe you’re really not an adrenaline junky, then you might want to think twice about riding a mule.

After surviving and living to write about the Road to Hana, there is also a road with similar types of myriad switchbacks in Molokai to the waterfalls. But I would have to drop some Draminine, suffer the ride as a passenger in a tour operator’s vehicle, and then hike a couple of miles, and all I really wanna do is unwind and relax. Knowing that I have to haul some guy outta bed to drive over to my hotel in a taxi or walk two miles to a restaurant is enough to ponder for a few days.

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