As you know, I don’t normally do Wednesday posts, but this seemed like a great opportunity to post the next chapter in my Molokai travelogue since it’s not aviation-related. Here’s where we are:
- Returning to Molokai Starts With My First Flight in the United Polaris Seat
- Entering Hawai’i Remains a Terrible and Disorganized Process
- Every Route is the Scenic Route Going To and From Molokai
- Three Quiet Nights at the Hotel Molokaʻi
- Two Days of Deeper Exploration on Molokai
- A Hawaiian A321neo Takes Me Home
For this trip to Molokai, I had hoped to return to the cottage where I stayed when I visited four years ago, but alas it’s no longer available for rent. Apparently the permits weren’t renewed as they clamp down on rentals, and the owners sold it off to someone who didn’t want to rent it out anyway.
This time I decided I would stay at the only hotel on the island, the Hotel Moloka
. I had been there on my last trip to eat at the poolside restaurant, and I loved the Polynesian architecture. This seemed like it would be a great choice to experience things differently than I did the first time.
The hotel was offering a 30%-off deal for visitors. I opted for one of the rooms which is on the second floor with a kitchenette and a loft into the distinctive swooping roof. It also has an ocean view from the lanai, but the room itself looks into the garden. The loft is really what makes this room special.
That 30%-off rate on the website meant it would be only $168 a night. I asked the general manager if they had any travel agent or media rates available, and he said he could give it to me for 50% off the regular rate, or $119. Considering the current rates at waterfront hotels elsewhere in Hawai’i, this is a true bargain.
After a stop at Misaki’s Grocery and Dry Goods to get a few essentials, I drove to the hotel and checked in. I was really sad to be greeted by a notice that the restaurant was closed until further notice.
Damn. I found out later that they had a couple of employees test positive for COVID, so they had to shut it down for about a week. It would reopen just a couple days after I left.
This certainly changed the vibe of the hotel since that is the cultural hub of the property that caters to people all over the island, not just guests. But so be it. It’s not like they wanted to close the restaurant. This was still paradise either way, but I suppose I should be more clear about what I mean by that.
If you’re expecting the Four Seasons, this isn’t it. Molokai is a fairly remote island in terms of infrastructure, and it doesn’t have much at all in the way of high-end tourism unlike its brother Lānaʻi across the Kalohi Channel. This is not a place for luxury. It’s a place for simple relaxation in a very cool setting.
The hotel was built in 1968, and it is certainly showing some age. I’m not sure when it was last renovated, but it’s probably about time to start thinking about the next one, at least in the bathrooms. Still, I loved the architecture so much that I spent time just lying in bed staring and imagining what it was like when they built it.
My room had a big ole’ lanai which was perfect, and the garden view was actually more unique than an ocean view at this hotel. There was a large ʻulu (breadfruit) tree out to the left which provided shade for birds, chickens, and I think I saw a cat or two during the days.
The room was very clean… well, except for my sheet which seemed to have a couple small stains when I pulled it open. And this brings me to a COVID tangent.
I called the front desk and Ash answered cheerfully. I told her it looked like there were some small stains on the sheets, and I asked if she could have housekeeping come change them. This is where she turned into apology mode, telling me she couldn’t come in my room if I was there due to state COVID regulations. I went to the hammock on the oceanfront, and she was able to come in, but I just found that so strange.
In a state where all inbound arrivals have taken tests and the kamaʻaina have a very high vaccination rate, you’d think that the state would have opened up more by then. Instead, it made California look like Florida. I had my temperature taken in most places, and I had to use hand sanitizer before entering a store. The burger joint on the island still had its dining room closed, and there just aren’t a lot of restaurant options in general. I found this all so surreal. But I digress.
Back at the hotel, there’s one other word of caution. The wifi cut in and out frequently, and I didn’t get any mobile service (T-Mobile is my carrier) unless I went closer to the street, so be aware. Then again, if this is what’s most important to you in a vacation, then you probably shouldn’t be coming to Molokai in the first place.
The individual buildings are all named after Hawaiian islands. The property is laced with paths that have the lush (though non-native) foliage most people expect from a Hawaiian vacation… and yes, again, plenty of chickens. Most importantly for me, there were four hammocks set up on the oceanfront, so I could lie down, pour a dram (er, uh, giant glass since that’s what was in the kitchen) of scotch, and read with Lānaʻi in the background.
It should be noted that if you’re looking for a white sandy beach, this is not the place for you. There isn’t much beach to speak of at the hotel since the southern shore is lined with an ancient barrier reef punctuated by fish ponds.
For white sandy beaches, you can head to the west end where the spectacular Papahaku beach and its miles of untouched white sand await. But if you just want the ocean, and a nice empty oceanfront pool, then this is the spot.
The hotel was somewhat crowded, about two-thirds full on the day I checked in, which surprised me. I didn’t expect there to be many tourists here, and I was right. The hotel is a base for many of the workers that have to come in for periods of time, like those from Hawaiian Telecom or the contractor Goodfellow Bros. This meant the days were very quiet while they were all off doing work, but the nights could get a little rowdy as they sat out drinking and blowing off steam in the parking lot.
I really enjoyed my stay, and that’s probably a good thing since it’s the only hotel on the island. It would have been much better if the restaurant had been open. That would have changed my evening plans and is a key draw to the hotel. But if you prefer something quiet, there are condos available nearby at Molokai Shores, further on the lush east side at Wavecrest, and over on those white sandy beaches on the west side too.