Are the residents of Molokai reasonably friendly to Mainlanders /Anglos?
May 25, 2013 9:00 AM   Subscribe

We are thinking about renting a vacation house on Molokai for a week or two. The house is fairly remote, looks great. My brother had read on one of the travel sites that residents of Molokai are frequently (or at least relatively) unfriendly to mainlanders. By way of reference, we are respectful travellers, have been to various Hawaiin islands many times, and really never had any kind of issue like that at all. Anyone have travel or residential experience on Molokai? I would value your thoughts...
posted by jcworth to Travel & Transportation around Moloka‘i, HI (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mr. BlahLaLa and I (both Anglo) went to Molokai and had a great time. If you're quiet and respectful you're not going to have trouble. We got nothing but nice treatment everywhere we went.

The only even remotely memorable encounter we had was when we pulled over to take a photo on a backcountry road. There was a ramshackle old farm outbuilding that looked beautiful in the day's fading sunlight and I wanted to catch a shot. A farmer wandered over and said, "Everybody stops to take a picture of that, but why?" and I responded that I found it beautiful. He kind of laughed at me, but not in a mean way.

We do have family members (some Anglo, some mixed-heritage) who lived in Hawaii in the past, and some living there now, and there are definitely racism issues at play in that society in general, but go ahead and take your vacation to Molokai and have a lovely visit.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:12 AM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're quiet and respectful you're not going to have trouble.

This. Seriously.

Compared with the rest of the islands, Molokai is fairly rural. The trappings of the tourist industry aren't as garish and blatant on Molokai as they are on Oahu or Maui.

Rural populations in general tend to be a bit more insular -- more wary of outsiders -- than larger populations with a high turnover. This doesn't necessarily translate to outright hostility, but it can lead to feelings of slight tourist resentment: "When your home is seen by tourists as nothing more than a playground, it's bound to lead to misunderstandings."

It looks like you folks are conscientious, respectful travelers. I can't imagine your experience being anything less than amazing. Go and enjoy your stay.

Disclosure: I grew up Haole (pronounced how-lee: white person) in the Hawaii Public School system. Racism is something that happens in the islands -- I got my jaw knocked loose on one memorable Kill Haole Day -- but it isn't common. You'll find far more friendly, outgoing, welcoming people in Hawaii than jerks.
posted by shiggins at 10:24 AM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

You're respectful travelers who have at least a basic familiarity with Hawaiian culture? You'll be fine.

Moloka'i has aloha in spades, but it's very change-averse. You'll see hand painted signs nailed up to fenceposts all along the highway expressing opposition to a proposed cruise ship stop, or a massive wind farm, or a tony real estate development, or GMO crops (Monsanto has a test facility on the island)... very few signs in support of anything. Even though it has the highest unemployment in Hawaii, and some of the highest gas, electric, and staples prices, too, it seems collectively disinterested in anything that would threaten the status quo in terms of the pace/quality of life or the natural environment. Moloka'i knows from pono and is uncompromising.

It's an island of 7,300 people. There are two grocery stores, two bars... more than two restaurants, but not many. Point is, everybody pretty much knows everybody, and you're going to be conspicuous, because nobody knows you. Kama'aina you aren't. Roll with it. You're a visitor who respects—maybe loves—Hawaii. You're contributing to the economy, and being a nice human being? You'll be welcome. Just don't expect tourist facilities. With the exception of Hotel Moloka'i, and I reckon Coffees of Hawai'i, there's little if anything on the island that doesn't have a local audience as well.

An example: we chartered a boat trip to the back side of the island, to see the sea cliffs. It was an experience I'd recommend whole-heartedly, but it wasn't an experience I think you'd have on any other island. En route, we dropped off (and later picked up) some local uncles going opihi picking and spearfishing, and then delivered a big load of supplies to some folks living in an isolated valley. I wrangled a fair bit of the cargo, because it was an all-hands situation. Sightseeing happened, and it was great, but in one sense we were just paying to be along for the ride. And when it was done one of the crew asked us to give her a lift home. And that's cool. The best way to experience Moloka'i is as local-style as possible. If you're down for that kind of vacation, you'll have a great time.

Feel free to MeMail. We've been thrice, and were last there just 2 weeks ago, so I have the freshest skinny.
posted by mumkin at 8:38 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I live in a rural area visited by tourists. We are often accused of racism. It is' t that at all. We like the boost tourism brings to the economy. We do not like the boorish bad manners and lack of consideration. Be polite, be calm be considerate. These things go a long way.
posted by BenPens at 3:38 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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