||From Cape Halawa on the East end to Kalaupapa
in the middle, the stretch of the Northeastern coast of Molokai is arguably the most
beautiful place on Earth. What makes it so beautiful is its sheer majesty and natural
glamour juxtaposed with its difficult access. Like the Olympic Games, its special
because its only witnessed in person by a few lucky souls. However, unlike the
Olympics, most of the world doesnt even know it exists.
The expansive valleys and tall, flowing waterfalls accentuate a coastline as
rugged as any on earth, while viewing the vertical cliffs with a supined neck can be
afforded thanks to deep water immediately offshore. The North shore of Molokai, or
"the back side" as the locals call it, is almost completely inaccessible by
land, and even a helicopter would have difficulty finding a place to set down for a peek.
For the most part, it can only be accessed by boat, and even then, the mariner needs to
keep a watchful eye on the weather. A sudden increase in the winds and seas can lay a boat
into trouble in short order, and with no harbors or facilities for miles, any vessel
venturing into the area should be prepared for self-sufficiency for at least a few days.
But, the views and the fishing leading to memories of a lifetime are worth it.
|Kalaupapa, the small, mid-island peninsula,
has a nice ledge to the East side that consistently produces Ono and Mahi Mahi. Only a few
miles further out, the water drops off to a thousand fathoms where the great Marlin swim
in search of their next meal. The fishing here is as good or better than anywhere in the
islands, but because of its remote location and difficult, seasonal access, the back side
doesnt receive the notoriety of a fishery such as Kona. In fact, it was off the
weather buoy about nine miles out that Honolulu fisherman Al Bento caught his 1,207 pound
Pacific Blue Marlin, taking several hours and proper management of his piano-string tight
line. With only one other crew on board and the fish dead after about half way through the
fight, Al had to manipulate the fish by driving up current and getting the fish to plane
to the surface on its pectoral fins, then drive down current to gain line on the mighty
creature. It was a tedious and arduous task that tested the nerves of the normally cool
angler, but when the fight was won, Al smiled for a good couple of years. Hes
actually still good for a smile when you talk with him about this fish.
|What is nice about this area is there are
things to do besides big game fishing. A little further to the east of Kalaupapa, there
are a couple of caves which are large enough for a dinghy to explore. One, which we
affectionately call the bat cave because of its single entry, dark, partially hidden
entrance, and many birds that live in it, measures about ten feet wide by about sixty feet
long and thirty feet high. We always enjoy going into the cave which scares out some of
the birds for a moment, then shutting down the motor and allowing nature to restore its
natural order. The sound of the roaring lion can be heard as the swells surge in and out
of the back end of the cave, forcing the water and air in and out of the openings. Opihi
and Limu grow abundantly here on the rocks right at the water line, and other sealife can
be observed in the crystal clear water.
||The other cave, just a short whizz in the
skiff across the bay, has two entrances and a deep recess which stirs up the water more
than in the bat cave. The same lion roars can be heard over here, but the special feature
in this cave is a water level overhang right near the Eastern entrance. This overhang,
when combined with the sunlight in the afternoon, creates a color of
aquamarine/topaz/indigo in the water that simply must be witnessed to be believed. No
writer could even begin to describe the brilliance of this color, but then again, no
writer should. Its just a sight for the beholder to stare at in wide wonder.
|The two caves are located near an anchorage
known as Keawenui. There are also a couple of smaller waterfalls nearby which are handy
for showering and filling up the water tanks on an extended trip. Keawenui is the most
protected anchorage to the East of Kalaupapa, as Pahu Point extends out a couple hundred
feet to the North and acts as a little breakwater. The water is crystal clear, and
its very deep close to shore. Once anchored, its always fun to break out the
light tackle and see what will bite a squid-baited hook as the day turns to evening. The
anchorage itself is hardpan and cracked boulders the size of houses, and a skipper should
have good local knowledge prior to taking anyone in to spend a night.
Continuing East towards Halawa, the next little anchorage of note is Hakaano, which
is out at the mouth of Pelekunu Valley. Pelekunu is a worthy name to mention, for it
literally means "smelly from dampness." Of course, the smell is of the natural
forest in behind, and is a sweet aroma that will be remembered forever. A fishing camp has
been set up here at Hakaano, and it gets used sporadically in the summertime by
Molokai resident and fisherman Junior Dudoit. Sometimes a party or a boat will be at the
camp, but for the most part, its empty and is a great place near which to anchor
just offshore. There is no breakwater at this bay, but the East side of the bight extends
far enough around to provide some refuge in light trade wind weather.
There are no other places to anchor until Halawa, but the cliffs ranging from
Hakaano to Lamaloa Head just to the West of Halawa Valley are the reason no
persons life is complete until they have seen them. It is here that most people,
whether of religious faith or stout atheist, will come to realize the origination of the
phrase "Gods Country." It is here that the same people will realize they
have been using the phrase incorrectly in other places they have been, because the cliffs
and waterfalls rise vertically to about three thousand feet straight out of the ocean.
Were it not for the ocean, these cliffs would extend some six thousand feet, and because
of the sheer drop, boats can almost scrape their hulls along the cliff walls while still
dragging their trolling lures across the Uluas home.
||Visitors to this island paradise rarely see
this unspoiled beauty from the sea, which truly is the best way to view it. Tour companies
dont run people up here on a regular basis because of its distance from the harbors
and the access is so difficult. Perhaps thats how God wanted it: a place where only
a privileged few can spend time soaking up the sun, the scenery, and catch a mighty fish
and/or a bunch of fish all in the span of a few days. This is one trip that nobody could
ever forget. Of course, since anyone who has gone here is in the significant minority,
that alone makes it special.