For winter solstice and to celebrate our dual anniversary (Caleb’s adoption and our wedding anniversary), we booked an island hopper to Moloka’i and a condo overlooking Kepuhi Beach. We were ready to watch the sun set on the shortest day of the year from a balcony by the sea.
Caleb absolutely loved flying and declared the twenty-five minute Mokulele Airlines flight “too short.” He decided that every cluster of waves contained a pod of dolphins or gam of whales. As we approached the shores of Moloka’i, he could scarcely contain his joy at seeing the rolling hills and expanse of farmland. Upon landing, we were greeted by the owner of our vacation rental, who was flying back to Oahu after preparing the condo for our family. We hopped in the rental SUV (it came with the condo) and made our way to Kaunakakai, the largest village on Moloka’i. While there, we grabbed groceries and caught the tail end of a farmer’s market before hopping back on Maunaloa Highway to our vacation condo in Ke Nani Kai.
Ke Nani Kai is a timeshare and condominium complex directly behind a creepy sprawling dilapidated oceanfront resort known as Kaluakoi. Our rented condo, Hale Kamaluhia, looked out on a manicured lawn peppered with wild turkeys and the sparkling Kepuhi Beach. I would definitely recommend the condo for a vacationing couple, but it is not really a family rental because it is essentially one open room with a spacious closet, bathroom, and kitchen. The kitchen was well-equipped and ideal for making small meals or packing picnics for all-day outings. The owners provided coolers, beach bags, board games, and even an ice cream maker.
We unpacked and I started preparing dinner while Josh and Caleb enjoyed the deck. Josh found a spotting scope in the wicker trunk at the foot of the bed and immediately began surveying the coastline and ghostly resort. We dined at the little table on the deck while the sun slipped beyond the horizon. We toasted to a decade of married life, our fantastic son, and a lifetime of adventures to come.
Caleb slept on the daybed and there were sliding wooden slatted doors separating the bedroom from the great room. I loved the look of the furniture and the wonderful Hawaiian appliqué quilts were a great touch. Yvette, the condo owner, decorated it for the holiday season with an endearing Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and plush Frosty the Snowman. Caleb was absolutely delighted to discover the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree because he was a massive fan of that movie. He’d even brought his very own stuffed Snoopy and Charlie Brown, which he acquired long before the new movie came out.
Little did we know that a storm was brewing behind our first gorgeous Moloka’i sunset. As the stars came out, a high wind sent the clouds racing across the sky and finally the winds blew so hard that we were forced into the condo, where we closed all of the louvre windows and battened down the hatches. The winds roared and howled all night, causing shutters to clatter and slam, the roof to moan, and the trees to creak as they whipped back and forth in the powerful gusts. I did not sleep. In fact, I sat in the bed all night long in a state of terror: fully expecting to grab up my child and hide in the tub while a tornado leveled the place. Of course, there wasn’t a tornado. Josh, who loved the sound of the wind, slept like a baby and woke up well-rested. Thankfully, excitement carried me through the first full day. The trip to Halawa Valley didn’t go as planned, but turned out to be absolutely wonderful. (You can read all about it here.)
The best part of Moloka’i was that it wasn’t crowded… in fact, it felt as deserted as the old Kaluakoi buildings in front of the condos. It was a bizarre feeling to stand all alone on a sparkling beach with turquoise waves and champagne foam tugging at the sand. Because we live on Oahu, we spent the first 24 hours settling our paranoia and apparently overactive amygdala which asked repeatedly, “Why isn’t anyone here? What’s wrong with this place?” The answer was fairly logical: Moloka’i is hardly a tourist destination. There just weren’t that many people on the island at any given time to fill the beaches (even the best beaches). In fact, the only thing Moloka’i appeared to be crawling with was sugar ants.