I received an email from a friend, who noted that I hadn’t posted anything to my blog or Facebook in a while, and wanted to be sure I hadn’t fallen off a cliff or was run over by a lava flow. I wrote back, assuring him that everything was fine; there were no fresh shooting injuries that I’d been a bit off grid. Shooting on the islands of Moloka’i, I explained, was a portion of my digital absence.

It had been about six years since I had visited the Friendly Isle, and my last trip was an intensive day of shooting. This time, I spent almost a week exploring and reconnecting with the Island.

Although it’s the fifth largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Moloka’i, in my view, is the most special. It reminds me of what Maui used to be, as my grandparents described to me, when they first visited in the ‘60s: Quaint, quiet and abundant with Aloha.

As a child, I remember riding in the Pinto station wagon across the bumpy dirt road to Kapalua bay, walking across the dunes to the most perfect white sand, crescent shaped beach I had ever seen. At the high tide mark, there were hundreds of puka and cowry shells. Sometimes, if you were lucky, expired sea urchins would wash ashore.

Molokai’s Papohaku beach reminds me of those days gone by. Its three miles shoreline makes one of the largest beaches in the state, and it’s probably the most deserted – I shot there on three occasions, and every time, our little group of three photographers were leaving the only foot prints on the entire beach. It was virtually impossible to walk without stepping on puka and other shells. It was amazingly beautiful, flooding my mind with memories and wishing my grandparents were still around to share the moment with.

Back in “the day,” Maui’s speed would be the same as Moloka’i today. It’s a nice, relaxed pace, that’s maika’i (good) with me, but many think it’s a bit too sleepy, given the rat race that many people today are used to. There’s also a big gist of Aloha, in the sense of compassion to others. There wasn’t anywhere on the island where I didn’t meet a smiling face or feel welcome.

While Maui has grown up, it’s nice to step back in time by taking a 90 minute ferry ride. The memories alone are worth it.