Have You Met Anakala?

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Molokai, Hawaii

Halawa Valley is located on the West Coast of Moloka’i and home to Anakala. The area is beautiful, you can only discover it with a local as it is public property so Anakala runs tours to a scenic waterfall.

I like waterfalls but I don’t make a trip specifically to see one. After seeing Iguazu Falls there aren’ t many that are impressive.


This one isn’t either.


But you don’t go on this tour to see the waterfall, it is only the backdrop to listening to Anakala share the story of his life and the land.

Now 71, Anakala grew up in the valley, he survived a tsunami in 1946 and at 15 he lied about his age to run away from Moloka’i and join the navy.


Hawaii waterfall

His grandfather had decided it would be Anakala who would pass on the stories of their family and as we walk through the land his ancestors have lived for generations he tells us about the plants and Hawaiian traditions of natural medicine. It’s amazing to spend time with someone so connected to their home.

Things are different now. He tells us about when he was forbidden to speak Hawaiian and how the language is changing. As English speakers were the ones to document names and places on a map, many of the names were wrong and Hawaiians could not correct them as it meant speaking their language when it was outlawed. Now the language he speaks is different from his grandchildren.

At times he is emotional because he is happy we are there to learn, and without any grandchildren living in the valley I wonder who he will pass all of this knowledge onto.


Molokai tour

When the tour is done he explains we do not say goodbye because there is no word in Hawaiian for it – only a hui hou  which means we’ll see each other again if not here, on the other side.

When I get back to my truck I looked at his business card and smiled because it did not say tour guide as I expected but storyteller – and that’s exactly why you need to meet him.



Join the Conversation

  1. Roy Marvelous says:

    I love that Hawaiians don’t have a word for goodbye…but how do you properly break up with someone?? 🙂

  2. Chrystal McKay says:

    This is a beautiful story. I want to meet Anakala. I hope that he does find somebody to pass the stories onto. History is so important but we often forget about it as time passes. Anakala is keeping his history alive.

  3. I really enjoyed this. I remember Hawaii being a destination I really wanted to go to when I was younger. Then when I got older and travelled more I thought it would be such a commercial place. This is what I was hoping Hawaii would really be about, thanks for sharing.

  4. What a lovely man. 🙂 I’m so glad he is able to tell his stories. I can’t imagine how painful it must’ve been to be muzzled, to be made to feel that your culture is worth suppressing.

  5. Jeremy Branham says:

    What a great story! So glad the Hawaiian people have been able to hold onto their language and culture. Like most places people visit, the real stories and memories are in the people and not the places themselves. Anakala is a good example of that.

  6. Sounds like a well worthwhile experience

  7. Keliʻi Brown says:

    Anakala Pilipo is indeed a special and gentle man. I feel my blood pressure lower whenever I am around him. Thankfully, his nephew Lawrence will be carrying on Anakala’s stories and traditions when he takes flight, but I am hoping he hangs around for years to come!

  8. Thank you for this post. It just reminds me of the kind Hawaiian traditions of “talking story,” learning about one another’s cultures, and having respect for one another and the land.

    I first went to Hawaii not knowing what to expect. The only expectation I had is that I’d only stay two weeks. I ended up staying seven weeks, and I’m slated to return in six days. I’m beyond ecstatic to go back and live in their gentle, loving way again.

  9. Danyelle Franciosa says:

    That was really the best of your trip in knowing Anakala. He is a good man and I love the way he humbled himself. I want to meet Anakala and listen to his story.

  10. This is one of the main reasons I travel, to meet people like Anakala. Hope I can meet him one day.

  11. Lauren, Ephemerratic says:

    Thank you for sharing something I would not have expected about Hawaii. It’s moved up a notch on my “Where to next?” list.

    The strength of storytelling is something I appreciate more and more each day–verbal and visual.

  12. This is such a moving post, Aynge. You always meet the most incredible people and hear the best stories.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      He was such an incredible man I’m just happy to share his story.

  13. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    I love that there isn’t a word for goodbye!!! What a beautiful waterfall and he seems like such an interesting guy.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Sometimes you meet people who are just incredible people, he is one of them.

  14. Denny & Marty says:

    Love the article and pic’s. Just one thing, East side. We had a great time with you and all our new found friend’s on Molokai. We can’t wait to go back for our 40th. Miachael said we have to so I guess we will. Did you and your mother have a good. Don’t forget to remove your keys, girl.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was so wonderful meeting you, and yes I have been trying to remember to remove keys from my hotel door!

  15. In a strange way, this reminds me of my Italian family’s history: a changed last name, not speaking their native language in order to make it. I love this guy — and the photo of you two. Great outfit!!

  16. Wow… no goodbyes – that is something I think I need to adopt in my own life. :X

  17. dtravelsround says:

    I love when experiences are made even better by people like this! I had a similar experience in Croatia. Had it not been for that person, I don’t think I would have had the same time.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      People definitely make the experience, especially now that I am a bit older and it isn’t about the bar making a place great.

  18. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    I have had some great guides that are expats, but locals are the ones with the stories that move you the most.

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