Main town: KaunakakaiMolokai is the fifth largest of the Hawaiian islands. Neighbored to the west by Oahu, to the south-east by Maui and to the south by Lanai, the island is 37 miles/60km long by 101/2 miles/17km wide.
Its coastline measures 88 miles/142km but has few beaches.Molokai developed from three volcanoes which divide the island into three distinct areas. The oldest volcano is found in the west (Puu Nana, 1352ft/412m) while the east was formed by Kamakou (4972ft/1515m). Kalaupapa Peninsula evolved later from a smaller volcano. The highest point in this part of the island is only 403ft/123m while the crater itself has a depth of 400ft/122m.Despite its small size, Molokai has a variety of geographical features. The north coast (Pali Coast) has spectacular cliffs reaching to a height of more than 3282ft/1000m. To the east, three valleys dissect the coastline. The south coast, by contrast, is flat and characterized by offshore coral reefs. The fish-ponds established here have used the offshore reefs as a natural barrier. The western landscape is more undulating but without large valleys while the east is more typical of Hawaiian landscape with green valleys and steep hills.Molokai has the nickname of "Friendly Island". Today, in the course of tourist development, its image has been reduced to "Lepra Island" or "Lonely Island".Molokai enjoys a climate not very different from the other Hawaiian islands, although it is perhaps a little cooler because of its extreme exposure to the wind. The average maximum temperature in the summer months fluctuates between 26°C and 28°C, the minimum between 17°C and 22°C. In the Hawaiian "winter" the maximum and minimum temperatures are 1-2°C lower. Rainfall levels differ across the island. East Molokai is a rainy area with extensive, dense tropical rain forests while West Molokai has a very dry climate and is used as pasture land and for growing pineapples.Compared with earlier times, Molokai's population is small. Of its current 6900 inhabitants, 1300 live in the main town of Kaunakakai. Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians account for almost half of the population - a high proportion compared with the other Hawaiian islands.Until now tourism has developed very slowly on Molokai. The first large tourist complex was built on land along the west coast, bought from Molokai Ranch. The Sheraton Corporation built a hotel complete with bungalows there although the complex has since been sold to another corporation. Today's Kaluakoi Resort Hotel, with its fine golf course and hotel built directly on the beach, is the main tourist attraction. In the surrounding area, some villas have been built for use as holiday homes but their impact on tourism development has been small. This has helped Molokai to protect its original character up to now.Rising unemployment caused by the downfall of farming is supposed to have been countered by the development of tourism. It has not yet been decided how tourism should be encouraged, as development of an infrastructure will, of necessity, follow. Only the future will show which group will win the day - supporters of rapid development or advocates or more controlled growth.
Moaula Falls is part of the extraordinary landscape of Halawa Valley. Traces of early settlements are visible along the way to the Falls and visitors can bathe at the bottom of the waterfall.
Royal Fish Ponds
Along Molokai's south coast, remains of fish ponds can occasionally be seen. At least 58 ponds, a particularly large number, are said to have been constructed here. Today, only a few remain along road 450 near Pukoo. Many of the ponds became filled in with washed-up earth or destroyed by flood tides.The walls of these fish ponds were built of lava stone and constructed in such a way that small fish could enter through a type of sluice gate (called a makaha). Once fully grown they could no longer pass through the opening in the wall and were easily caught.The ponds were certainly built in the 15th c. and indicate how well fish farming had developed by then. Fishing was carried out by the "ordinary mortals" exclusively for the ali'i (the upper classes) and was a particularly popular upper-class sport in old Hawaii. Keawanui and Ualapue are two of the largest fish ponds and they have been placed under protection.
Its 1200 inhabitants make Kaunakakai the largest town on Molokai. Despite the well-known song "The Cock-eyed Mayor of Kaunakakai," the town has not yet got its own mayor. Kaunakakai is an example of ribbon development with one wide main thoroughfare, Ala Malama Street, forming its center and only single-story houses built either side.Kaunakakai's harbor enjoyed particular importance as a center of trade. The decline in pineapple growing lost it this importance and today it is only a small fishing port.Nearby are located the remains of King Kamehameha I's summer residence. He was born on Molokai and lived here as Prince Lot before he succeeded to the throne.Molokai Airport is located not far from Kaunakakai in Hoolehua, an area of detached houses.
Kaluakoi Hotel and Golf Club
The best beaches and most luxurious hotels are located in the west of Molokai. Swim at Kepuhi and Papohaku beaches - although the constant west wind causes such high waves and the current is so strong that care must be taken at all times. This is particularly the case in the afternoons and when there are no lifeguards present.The 10sq.miles/27sq.km resort originally belonged to the Molokai Ranch. The Kaluakoi Hotel and Golf Club has its own 18-hole golf course, the only one on the island.This resort is particularly suited to those who enjoy solitude and impressive scenery but who do not want to go completely without luxury and physical comfort.Tours to Molokai Ranch Wildlife Park begin here.
Molokai Ranch Wildlife Park (closed)
Located near Kaluakoi Resort this is an outdoor park, about 1.5sq.mi/4sq.km in size, where mostly African animals from Tanzania and Kenya live. A one-and-a-half hour tour offers close-up views of the wildlife. The journey across the rough land is bumpy but extremely interesting. The park was stocked in 1978 with giraffes, zebra, Berber sheep, elk antelopes, cranes and different types of red deer. These have brought a piece of Africa to Hawaii for visitors to enjoy.The guided tour departs from Kaluakoi Hotel and Golf Hotel and seats should be reserved here.ATTRACTION IS CLOSED.
St Joseph's Church and Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Kamalo, Hawaii
St Joseph's Church is located in the village of Kamalo on road 450, 10.5mi/17km east of Kaunakakai. It is one of the churches which Pater Damien had built during his 16 years on Molokai. St Joseph's Church dates from 1876 and was restored in 1971 although services are no longer held in it.Nearby is Our Lady of Sorrows Church, about two years older than St Joseph's Church and the oldest Catholic church on Molokai. A life-size statue of Damien, sculpted by John Kadowaki (an inhabitant of Molokai), stands in front of the church.Pilots Smith and Emory Bronte were forced to land here. In 1927 they attempted the first civil trans-Pacific flight, starting from California, and crash-landed here.
This small village occupies an elevated position about 1 mile/1.5km from the western end of road 460. The fate of this former plantation settlement is perhaps symbolic of Molokai's varied development. Founded in the 1920s by the Dole Company for its pineapple plantation workers, Maunaloa died 50 years later when pineapple growing was abandoned owing to field irrigation problems. For a decade it became a ghost town. Only then did a few artists settle here and they have brought the place to life again as a center of craftwork. Although new buildings have been erected, some houses remain today as examples of Maunaloa's past as a typical plantation settlement.
Molokai Ranch, to which the wildlife park belongs, is the largest private ranch on Molokai. Large areas of western Molokai are pastureland, used by the ranch for grazing cattle (its main commodity).The Great Mahele of 1848, which governed the allocation of land, caused the founding of the Molokai Ranch and at that time it became the property of King Kamehameha V. Later it passed into the possession of the Bishop Trust. Charles Bishop, a banker, bought half the ranch and the other half was inherited by his wife, Bernice P. Bishop, a sister of Kamehameha V. Since then the ranch has changed ownership several times and belongs today to the Cooke family.
A road leads off from the right of road 460 and passes behind Umipaa. Best tackled with a four-wheel drive vehicle (and then only in dry weather), it leads to Waikolu Lookout. The view down into the deep and impenetrable Waikolu Valley is unique. Just before the lookout, a large hollow is passed. This "Sandalwood Hole" was used to measure the right amount of wood with which to load ships. The hole was filled with sandalwood and its contents could then be transported on to ships. At the beginning of the 19th c. the fragrant sandalwood was a valuable export to China. Shameless deforestation quickly led to the decline of this trade and today sandalwood trees can only be found occasionally on the Hawaiian islands.
Kala'e - R.W. Meyer Sugar Mill Museum (Molokai Museum and Cultural Center)
This protected mill stands in the center of Molokai at Kala'e.Rudolf W. Meyer, previously a manager of the large Molokai Ranch, built a sugar refinery in 1878 and this has now been restored to its original form. It offers a good insight into the production of sugar, Hawaii's most important export. On view are the sugar cane presses, the copper vats, the vaporization pans and a steam machine, all of which are still in working condition.
Address: Box 269, Kualapuu, HI 96757, United States
Opening hours: 10am-2pm; Closed: Sun
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $2.50, Child 5-18 $1.00, Child 4 & under FREE
Facilities: Gift shop
Kaunakakai - Kapuaiwa Grove (Coconut Grove)
This coconut grove is located on the lagoon, west of Kaunakakai. It is one of the largest palm groves in Hawaii and originally consisted of 1000 trees planted there by order of King Kamehameha V.Signs are positioned on the edge of the grove warning of the danger of falling coconuts. Kapuaiwa roughly means "mysterious taboo."On the opposite side of the road are six churches and a Bible school, built mainly of wood, where services are held on Sundays.
Palaau State Park
Road 470 ends at a car park, with camping and picnic facilities, at the edge of Palaau State Park. Particularly lovely tropical trees can be found here including ironbark, cypress and pine. A good view of this unique vegetation can be gained both along the path to Kalakaua Lookout and the path to Phallic Rock.
Phallic Rock - Kaule o Nanahoa
This unusual rock formation is located near the lookout at the end of road 470. A signpost stands at the beginning of the path, only a few minutes' walk from Phallic Rock. According to Hawaiian legend, the history of the evolution of Phallic Rock is this. Nanahoa, god of manly fertility, who lived near the rock, stared at a beautiful young girl one day who was admiring her reflection in a pond. Nanahoa's wife, Kawahuna, came upon him and became so jealous that she started to pull the girl's hair. Nanahoa also got worked up and began to hit his wife. She tumbled down a hill and turned to stone. The same fate befell Nanahoa - he turned into stone shaped like a phallus and can be seen in this form today.Over the years the stone became a symbol of fertility - childless women would spend a night praying at the stone to be cured of their infertility. Sometimes they would sit in one of the pools in front of the rock to catch rainwater in the hope that mana, the spirit of fertility, would come to them.
Map of Molokai Attractions