Mokulele Road Trip


One of the joys of my life is the ability to go on “road trips.” There is something soul-satisfying about packing up your car and heading out. When my children were all still at home, we would take off for a weekend or a week, and often even longer for a camping trip – our adventurous way of seeing the land where we lived, learning a few history and geography lessons, finding a way to be self-sufficient.

Then when I lived on my sailboat, I would do the same sort of thing, except I couldn’t pack up a car and head over the land. Since I lived on board, everything I needed was already there. So I would throw off the lines and head for Catalina or Mexico, or up the California coast.

On the Big Island of Hawai`i, our “road trips” are quite different. I can make short trips that take me around the island, but the variety of places to go is rather limited, compared to the mainland USA.

My most recent “road trip” was on a little island commuter flight from Kailua-Kona on the Kona (Leeward) side of the island to Kahului on the island of Maui. I’ve made that trip quite a few times, but never thought to include it on a blog. Since my brother is making a true “road trip” on the East Coast right now, I thought it appropriate to give you pictures of my “road trip” in the sky.

Mokulele is the island hopper most of us use here. Occasionally, we use other airlines, but Mokulele gives us the convenience of not going through a security check and of being only one of eight passengers – almost all local residents. The opening photo is a shot of the plane we flew on.

The pilot was funny when he talked to us about safety regulations – all the stuff the “big” airlines do. All he had to do was turn in his seat and talk with us. Then he concluded with “Preparing for take-off. Flight attendants, please be seated.” Huh?

The next series of pictures will be from the air on the way to Kahului and back to Kona. I will add a brief descriptions of each. Here is the Kona airport (KOA) from the runway.


We are just lifting off and you can see the homes up mauka (up the mountain).


Here are several shots of the Big Island coastline north of Kailua-Kona. This is the area where you’ll find the big resort hotels and golf courses. Scattered along the coast you will find a few stunning beach areas.


One of the beaches below us is where I recently performed a wedding. To see close-ups of that beach, check it out here.

Living here, I sometimes forget just how high our mountains are. Here are a couple shots of Mauna Kea peeping out above the clouds.


Between the Big Island and Maui is the Alenuiha`ha Channel, an extremely rough piece of water. In fact, just this week, it was so rough that the shipping barges were unable to land on Maui until a storm had passed. This shot I tried to take of the channel may be difficult for you to see so I suggest opening it up to a larger view. If you look closely, you can see the choppy water. It was actually calmer on this trip than I’d ever seen it. Be sure to read the link on the channel, because it is considered to be one of the most dangerous channels in the world!


Coming into Maui we began to see the tip of Haleakala. This is one of our U.S. National Parks and worth a trip to see if you are ever in Hawai`i.


I’ll interrupt this particular “road trip” to give you pictures I made a few years ago when I drove up to the peak of Haleakala. As you can see, it was cold, drizzly and foggy.




Now back to my Mokulele “road trip,” and coming into Maui. This is the Kihei coastline where you’ll find many of the big resorts.


What fun to see one of the hotels where some of the Writers Conferences were offered when it was still being given on Maui. That conference is now the Hawai`i Writers Conference, and is held in various hotels on Oahu.


Although Maui has continued to grow sugar cane and pineapples, the companies are beginning to close down because of the economy. The fields are still green and lush.


While on Maui, I visited my friend and teaching partner who had been seriously injured in an accident. I’ll spare you the gory pictures of his injuries! My friend is healing slowly, and hopefully will be back to be in the class before the end of the semester.

On the return flight, the plane wasn’t full and the pilot asked if we had any preference for sight-seeing. These planes fly low enough to get a good view of everything below us. One of the passengers asked to fly whichever way would get us home the fastest – and the rest of us agreed.

As everyone knows, the quickest way between two points is a straight line, and the straight line between Kahului and Kona took us right beside Haleakala. In fact, we were so close that I couldn’t get a good shot, but these were through the window of the plane on the opposite side from where I sat.


I managed to get a shot of this island off Maui. I have to admit that I’m not quite sure which island it is. I’ve been to both Lana`i and Moloka`i, and even though it is shaped like Moloka`i, it doesn’t seem right for where I was sitting. It could be Lana`i, but the shape isn’t right. If someone can straighten me out on this, I’d appreciate it.


So my “road trip” was over and after landing safely, I headed back to school to teach an afternoon class.

If you plan to visit our beautiful state, I highly recommend traveling to the other islands on Mokulele because you get to see so much. You’ll be limited on baggage, but you don’t need much here anyway.

A hui hou!

3 thoughts on “Mokulele Road Trip”

  1. We enjoy taking day “road trips” around our island but also enjoy flying to Oahu for the day…visit Chinatown….eat at a Cuban or Chinese restaurant for lunch…visit a friend or two and then fly home in the later afternoon… Don’t do it often enough though!

    1. When you live on an island, where can you go for a “vacation?” So the short road trips, whether on the road or in the air are necessities, aren’t they? I imagine others on the mainland envy us! 🙂 I appreciate your comments.

  2. Exactly! We will be taking a 5-6 day trip around the island soon (if the weather clears) and will be camping at 4 different locations…Studying maps trying to decide where are the best campsites…

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