- Where on Earth are the Hawaiian Islands?
I've heard many decent common people use the word ‘Hawaii’ to refer to the place labelled on this map below:
But perhaps what some folks perhaps haven’t realised is that ‘Hawaii’ is just one of the many Hawaiian islands. There are 137 to be exact, but of course not all of these are inhabited. The main islands – favoured holiday destinations – are Oahu (where you’ll find Honolulu), Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai (in the middle there) and the big island of Hawaii.
Our story begins here with Molokai, one of the lesser known and more quieter islands. You won’t find a McDonald’s here! It is a truer, more traditional and more beautiful Hawaiian island, without the tourism nor the surfers nor the cruisers nor the fast-food outlets and resorts. If you haven’t yet been then take some time out one day (pending the pandemic!) and let the place work its magic on your soul. Amen.
The vibe is relaxed and laid back. It is good for your soul. It is quite a contrast to the faster paced, louder, and busier lifestyle you’ll find in Honolulu. I once got lost twice just at the HNL airport departure zone when trying to drop the Mustang off at the car hire depo before an early morning flight. Note to self – Alamo is not anywhere near the airport. Meanwhile, on Molokai, one need only walk across 20 metres across the single carpark to be greeted by two layabouts on plastic chairs waiting to charm you with their customer service. I must have been the only one to hire a car that weekend, back in good old 2018.
Actually it started in Maui. After a swim, a lazy breakfast and another morning cruise in a convertible Ford Mustang GT FN, I meandered past the international terminal to an old shack out the back. This is the check-in desk for Mokulele Airlines. They weigh you, y’know. And if you’re over 160kgs then forget it and book HA’s Boeing 717 instead. They won’t fly you. Legit. There’s a notice on their website to this effect.
Then they numbered us off like kids on a school bus. Those were our seat numbers. All seven of us. The other ten turned right and boarded an aircraft bound for the Big Island. I got the back-seat and was able to stretch out some, with my legs in the aisle. No galley. No bathroom. No facilities. Maybe a life-jacket. And a pilot.
But I love those small planes. There’s something about the surreal physicality of flying in a little tin-pot 208EX Grand Caravan that you won’t get with a 717. You feel every lost quarter on the tarmac and every air pocket in the, er, well in the air. But the experience is exhilarating. It’s exciting. It’s tremendous fun. You feel like a kid all over again. If you don’t drive ‘stick’ you won’t know what I’m talking about.
Mokulele Airlines flight 403 slowly sped down the runway, gradually gathering speed yet never quite getting enough lift. Should we jump out and give a wee push? Nay, finally we were airborne and ascended to a grand altitude of about 3,000 feet.
Now Molokai is famous not just for its old leper colony on the North western peninsula, but also for its stupendous cliffs that rise vertically up out of the sea. They are the tallest sea cliffs in the world – after New Zealand’s Mitre Peak – and they dwarfed our little single-engine aircraft as they extended high above us. 3,900 feet of almost vertical rock face, over which ravines and rivers and waterfalls cascaded down onto the wildest ocean below.
And yet these mighty sea cliffs are the same prison-like walls that cut off a community of lepers from the rest of the world for over one hundred years. That too is part of this story. That too is part of this thread…
I had known about this place for years, and then in 2018 had the honour of visiting this island paradise on the way home from Alaska (that’s another story). Certainly I was blessed by the native hospitality, and their genuine spirit. Perhaps that’s where my interest in the stamps and postal history of this island began. Yet it seems that the postal history of Molokai is not all that common compared to, say, the larger Hawaiian islands. You could say that might be another reason for my awakened curiosity and fascination with the place.
Anyway, so this is Molokai in philately.
One of those little philatelic niches of mine, which I hope to share over the years. Yet my collection is only small, like our tiny aircraft that day flying through the vast wilderness of Mother nature. So, give voice to YOUR thoughts and DISCUSS your wisdom on this subject too.
What do YOU know? What have YOU found? What have YOU got filed away in those albums of yours? What can YOU share? What have you seen in auction catalogues? Have you been there too?
I know we have one member from Molokai, but they haven't been active since 2012...