They have become tired of the control tourists have over their communities financially and practically. Overcrowding. Traffic. Vacation rentals have diluted the quality of neighborhoods. Cost of living increases. Inauthenticity Molokai residents want to ensure they don’t become one of these examples. They would instead stop it from happening. The island, as a whole, is well-known for its resistance to large-scale tourism investments, such as cruise ships and chain hotels. This is mainly due to grassroots protest and participation. It ensures that elected officials at both the local and state levels do not make decisions that are contrary to the will of the entire community. This message is repeated everywhere, often via signs along the main road (“No Cruise Ship”) Although one may think this is an attack on tourists, it is not. It’s just what is necessary to protect them. Molokai has seen other islands give up their identities to tourism and have been exploited for centuries by outsiders. Molokai residents want to create their reality at home.
You must be more than just a tourist.
This might sound like an unusual concept in today’s world. Visitors descend upon a destination and consume it as though it were their own. However, Molokai demands that tourism be mutually beneficial, not only for certain people but for everyone.
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Visitors who come to Molokai to consume or vacation are not what Molokai wants. They aren’t interested in anything that would deplete or harm their resources. They want small cruise ships (unfortunately, only one small boat called UnCruise can currently visit Molokai). They wish to avoid mega-resorts.
They want people who participate in their trip – not tourists or vacationers.
Julie Bicoy is the Destination Molokai Visitors Bureau Manager. She says that the island is most interested in “educational studies.” This means people who are willing to volunteer and learn on the island. They also like connecting with local families and interacting with them. This type of immersion is what the island seeks. It wants balanced visitors who view it as mutually beneficial.
They want visitors to respect their land, behave appropriately, and ask permission to tread lightly.
What does this mean in practice? What does that mean in practice? Hawaiians have a ” protocol ” system, a deep-rooted culture-based respect system. This is based on the principle that if you’re invited to a place, you need permission and approval before you can do what you want.
Consider it this way: When you visit someone’s home for the first time, there are certain expectations and requirements about how you behave. Consider the island of Molokai as one house. That’s how to view your presence. Before you can do anything (Hey Auntie! Is it okay for me to take a photo of your storefront?) Hi Uncle, can I park in front of your house? Can we fish with you and your family? Remember that you are only a visitor and that your agenda doesn’t override the lives of those around you.
This is often difficult to remember when immersed in the bustling tourism industry. You will never forget Molokai.
You won’t find the island’s most treasured spots with a map.
Given the above discussion, it shouldn’t surprise that the island isn’t well-marked for visitors. Many of the island’s most popular attractions, such as Plumeria Farm and Plumeria Farm, need to be marked. They can be easily overlooked without much thought. The Kalaupapa Peninsula is an important historical site. Unfortunately, information about it is only sometimes clear. Due to a landslide, the trail has been closed indefinitely. The maps only show Kalaupapa, Halawa, and the minimum information. It’s as though the island had nothing to offer beyond those two.
Of course, this is a lie. Why the secrecy? It can be summed up as a combination of principle and indifference.
Kainoa Horcajo, Cultural Advisor to Hawaii, explained, “I am always careful about what information and which places I take [visitors]” about Hawaii’s protective shell. “For far too many years, these special places here, and everywhere else in the globe, have been prostituted. They are advertised in a way that leads to their demise.”
You can prove yourself, and doors will open.
To give myself some room about the meaning of the word proves, I have put it in quotations. However, it is close to reality.
It is possible to get to know specific places without interacting with the people there. Disney World or any other curated experience requires that you have no contact with residents to experience it fully. Sometimes “real places” don’t need that you dig deep into reality. It’s simple to visit Oahu and navigate your way with all the resources available in tourism, such as well-known guidebooks and advertised experiences.
The only way to Molokai’s heart is through its people. Hawaiians are some of the most welcoming and warm people on the planet. All they need is your willingness to open their hearts. Bring your iPhone and a large camera. You will be directed to the airport if you have social media flashing.
Many farms often offer volunteers who volunteer at the nursery for half a day free lodging like the Halawa Tropical Flower Farm. Phillip Kikukawa, the owner of Molokai Bike Shop, usually takes a ride every evening. If you talk to him, he might invite you along. You would not know this unless someone told you. The local canoe club meets every Thursday at the boat harbor and takes first-timers. Molokai can only be opened if you can integrate yourself into the community and get to know others.
You might be curious that it would take so much work to make a destination a tourist destination. But Molokai has the guts to demand that visitors do more than consume. Visit if you are interested in visiting. Learn about the country, meet the family, and fill your calendar with the contacts you make and the invitations that you receive. You can be on the beach for a short time to visit another island.
There is an Alternative
Even if all this sounds intense, Molokai can still be visited by a regular tourist.
Stay at the Hotel Molokai, and you can visit Halawa Beach or Kalaupapa. After dark, you can grab some Kanemitsu hot bread at Paddlers.
It is possible to say that you have visited Molokai. However, you would not be able to tell you visited Molokai. You wouldn’t make any connections, so there wouldn’t be any reason to return.