Sacred Not Secret
Dec 27, 2016
I have lived and worked in Maui for the past six years and during that time I have often looked across the Pailolo Channel to the island of Moloka’i and wondered what it was like there.
I had flown over it by helicopter, sailed around it on a tall ship and been scuba diving along it’s fabulous barrier reef, but in all my time on Maui I had never stepped foot onto Moloka’i.
It was a mystery island to me, and one that few people knew from first-hand experience. This would all change the day I started working for UnCruise.
After spending the night in the only hotel on the island, the quaint Hotel Moloka’i, I waited for the Safari Explorer to pull into the little harbor town of Kuanakakai on Moloka’i’s south shore.
As I devoured my French toast made from the famous local sweet bread, I could feel the waitress eyeing me as an obvious newcomer to the island. Finally, she walked up and asked what I was doing on Moloka’i. I responded that I was waiting for a boat to come in, to which she beamed and said, “Oh, the Safari Explorer?” And so it was that I found out that UnCruise had been adopted into the Moloka’i Island culture.
A day trip to the beautiful Halawa Valley on Moloka’i’s northeastern tip is a wonderful introduction into the Hawaiian lifestyle. Taro grows in terraced patches next to the winding river and fish are caught in cast nets near where the river empties into the idyllic bay.
A two mile trek up the valley takes you past the sites of ancient temples, altars and birthing rocks which give insight into the storied past of Halawa Valley. To truly experience the past, there is nothing like firsthand experience, and as the old Hawaiian saying goes, “Nana ike kumu,” which means, “go to the source.”
The source for Halawa Valley is embodied by an ever-smiling gentleman known to everyone as Uncle Pilipo. Talking story with Uncle Pilipo is one of the most unique and authentic experiences that you could have in Hawaii.
Luckily for us, Pilipo’s family believes that the Hawaiian culture is sacred, not secret, and that in order to learn the Hawaiian culture you must listen, feel, see and do.
This starts with the traditional Hawaiian greeting called the ‘honi.’ Similar to the Hawaiian handshake, this traditional greeting is forehead to forehead and nose to nose accompanied by a deep inhale. It is believed that through this you are sharing ‘ha,’ or the breath of life and are strangers no longer.
So prepare to be immersed into a Hawaii that is rarely seen by visitors.