Molokai

Few visitors to Hawaii ever make it to Molokai, and that is really part of its charm! Still considered the most-Hawaiian island, Molokai preserves a self-sufficient way of life. The ancient Hawaiians called Molokai the navel, and sometimes the stomach, of the islands because of its rich agriculture and its productive fishponds. Today, it remains an important cultural and ecological anchor in the islands as the world around is constantly changing. 

Molokai
Molokai
Molokai

For years, Molokai was isolated because of the stigma attached to Kalaupapa. The island’s north shore peninsula became, starting in the 1860s, a colony for victim’s of Hansen’s disease, then known as leprosy. The site was made famous by the work of Father Damien, the Belgian priest whom the Pope declared a saint in 2010. Today, few patients remain on Kalaupapa, but visitors to Molokai can tour the area and learn more of its sad but fascinating history.

Molokai
Molokai
Molokai

Ecologically, Molokai is divided between the open, red-dirt West end, and the steep forests and lush valleys to the East. Once covered in pineapple plantations, coffee is still grown near Kualapu'u. Axis deer, wild boar, and even wild goats live in the forests of Molokai and surrounding areas, providing a source of meat for many of the local families. The waters of the channel are still filled with bright fish and shellfish; sea turtles nest and hatch along the shores; endangered monk seals are often resting on Molokai's quiet beaches and blue whales find their winter home along the coast. Driving east along the highway, you’ll see stone-wall rings in the water—these are fishponds, a traditional Hawaiian method of raising fish, some of which have been restored and put back into use in recent years. Molokai’s only highway ends a few miles past Pu'u O Hoku Ranch headquarters in Halawa Valley, also part of the ranch. The valley is said to be the first home of Hawaiians when the islands were discovered. It holds the famous Mo’oula falls, swimming and surf beaches, and the beginning of the North Shore cliffs—at 4,000 feet from tip to ocean-floor, the tallest sea-cliffs in the world.

Molokai
Molokai
Molokai