Three Quiet Nights at the Hotel Moloka’i (A Cranky Travelogue)

Hawaiian, Mokulele, Trip Reports, United

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:

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

  • ʻi
  • . 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.

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    11 comments on “Three Quiet Nights at the Hotel Moloka’i (A Cranky Travelogue)

      1. I’m sure that the chickens crowed your ears off. The next time be sure to sign your real name not your nick name. From the looks of your feet you could use head to toe makeover. Molokai is our island home for many our ancestral homes; old and wind blown. Molokai isn’t for everyone it’s the memories and stories that you’ll be lucky to hear. Your readers are so use to being in a the time zone/warp and everything is preserved. Our descendants will continue to thrive in a rustic but liveable tropical environment. Molokai Mo Bettah!

    1. It’s one thing to look rustic and be modern, but another thing to just be old.

      It does look like it could use a make over.

    2. Noticed, in one of the photos, there was a sign, denoting the dining room was CLOSED. What I DIDN’T notice, until a second glance, was all the TRASH on the floor. You’d think they could at least keep the place clean. Think I’ll have to pass on this place, due to the trash issue, AND the carousing workers. Wonder if this hotel has a* rating? From someone who lived on Oahu for 2 years, WAY back when.

    3. Your reports are just wonderful.

      Just wondering about the world and travel these days. Here in northern Virginia, DC suburb, I’ve can’t remember things being so out of whack.

      Stores, like Target, are out of so many things. Not because of demand, but because of lack of supply, for many reasons.. And when supplies come in, no workers to fill the shelves..

      Gasoline prices spiked because of the pipeline hacking, or so they say. Supply went to zero, but it’s been back for awhile, yet prices have spiked and seem to want to just stay high, and higher than ever!

      Travel? Who wants to pay outrageous air fares, accomodation and rental car prices. And fly with a hundred or so traveler, a few of whom will lose their minds a couple of rows in back of you.

      Until fall comes, reading, or re-reading another marveleous Cranky trip reports, in my lovely home will suffice, problems be damned!

    4. What a great report with magnificent pics! Speaking of, and regarding the pic you took from the hammock, is that Maui on the horizon over your toes?

      1. SkyVoice – Nope, that’s Lana’i, looking south. Maui is off to the east, and you could see it a bit if you looked left, but the better view of Maui is from the eastern end.

      1. Kay – I don’t think so. There are really three places you can stay. There are the condos on the western beaches which are rough and probably not good for snorkeling. Then there’s the hotel and condos at Town which may be the closest but they still don’t look like good snorkeling spots to me. Maybe I just don’t know. Then there’s the condos on the east side at Wavecrest.
        Those aren’t all that close. Kuimi Beach is supposed to be the best place, but that’s up around mile marker 20 on the east side and it’s not near anything. Dunbar cottages get pretty close, but I don’t think it’s walkable.

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