MAUNALOA, Hawaii -- Although sitting around with a good book and an
unparalleled view of the ocean is usually the order of the day,
boredom as a state of being is not possible at the Sheraton Molokai
Beach Village, where my extended family recently celebrated a
Part of our group rented bicycles for the day, and some of us
chose lessons in cattle-rustling, skeet-shooting and archery.
Kayaking, guided hikes and paintball also are available.
Most of the activities are run by Molokai Fish & Dive (wwwlokaifishanddive.com). For the less physically
inclined, a cultural beach walk might be all the stimulation
I chose not to rent bicycles ($30 all day), but I have
mountain-biked some of the numerous trails on the island and can
safely say that even the most fit and skilled will love the variety
in the terrain, from wide-open Jeep trails to soft, red sand and
technical single track.
Maps and stakes with arrows make it fairly simple for riders to
be their own guide, but they must be prepared to be their own
mechanic, as well, should a kiawe thorn puncture a tire.
Some members of our family made the trek from the beach village
to Kaupoa Beach, a mostly downhill, dirt-road ride of about seven
miles, one with his 5-year-old attached to a mini-tandem and his
7-year-old riding alongside.
An image of my daughter riding on horseback into the middle of a
herd of cattle to extract a cow and drive it into the arena is one
I will not soon forget.
The paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) roundup, a three-hour adventure,
started in a rodeo ring with some basic instruction. Once in the
open field, we rounded up about 20 head of cattle in 15
Back in the ring, we took turns driving the cattle. We learned
to separate cows from the group, which transformed the ride from
little more than sitting in the saddle to an experience that
required the use of many skills for a tangible purpose.
Throughout what felt like an authentic Hawaiian cowboy
experience, we admired views of the west side of the island all the
way to the ocean.
Cost: $80 per person for about two hours. The minimum age is 10,
but exceptions are made for small groups or children with riding
I hate to admit I love to shoot things. Not living things. But
there's nothing better than blowing up an inanimate, biodegradable
During our stay at the Sheraton Molokai, we hopped on the free
shuttle to the isolated sporting clay area about 20 minutes from
Kaupoa Beach, where we stayed in canvas, ecofriendly tentalows.
With my 11-year-old son eager to try his hand at shooting, I
found myself hesitant and on high alert, but our instructor put me
Two stations gave us four types of clay animals to shoot. These
included two flight patterns simulating birds and two running
patterns mimicking rabbits. A 20-gauge shotgun proved manageable
for my son; however, the "rabbits" might test even experienced
Cost: $65 for 50 rounds, which last about three hours.
There is something so ancient and so pure about archery. A bow.
An arrow. A target. Your hands. Your aim. Instant failure or
gratification. No noise. No excuses.
Located in the same isolated meadow as the sporting clays
course, it's one of the most accessible activities at the beach
village as well as one of the cheapest.
After basic instructions, we were led into a wooded area where
we took aim at wooden animals, including a wild boar and a deer,
both common prey on Molokai.
Even children as young as 5 let fly the arrow in hopes of
hitting the bull's-eye.
Tip: The afternoon session can get hot during summer months. Try
the morning session. Cost: $35 per person; about three hours.
Cultural beach walk
Young children unable to ride horses or bicycles -- or shoot
arrows -- tagged along for what proved to be the most educational
excursion of all.
Our guide on the Cultural Beach Walk wove the history of the
Hawaiian people and his own family into simple concepts the
children could grasp.
He chanted for us at a fishing shrine, showed us his wife's
Niihau shell necklace (valued at $19,000) and told us about his
brother, who earns his living making and selling jewelry on
For more details on this article, see Sheraton Molokai Village: No TVs, lots of