borderGenerations of Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy) on Molokai

Molokai History

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With a high percentage of Molokai’s population being of Native Hawaiian descent, it’s no wonder why Molokai is sometimes known as “the most Hawaiian Island.” A visit here is like a journey into Hawaii’s past, where historic spots can be discovered today, looking much like they did hundreds of years ago.

One of the oldest known Hawaiian settlements on Molokai was in Halawa Valley, an area you can still explore today. Hawaiian Fishponds built hundreds of years ago can still be seen along Molokai’s southern coast. Molokai is also said to be the birthplace of the hula. Legends speak of Laka, who practiced the hula at sacred Kaana near Maunaloa and spread this knowledge to the other islands. Today, the Molokai Ka Hula Piko festival held every May celebrates the art of the hula.

Western contact came to Molokai in the early 1800’s by Christian missionaries. Kaluaaha Church was Molokai’s first Christian church, originally built in 1833 (today's structure was rebuilt in 1844) on the southeast coast. In the late 1800’s, King Kamehameha V built a vacation home in Kaunakakai. Kamehameha also co-managed ranch lands and was responsible for the planting of over 1,000 coconut trees in Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove. But Molokai is probably most famous for Saint Damien and Saint Marianne’s work with Hansen’s disease sufferers at the current site of Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

Today, the people of Molokai continue to foster a strong connection to the land, a responsibility to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture, and a love for country living that sets them apart from the other Islands of Aloha.

Featured Sites and Attractions

Halawa Valley, Molokai

Take a guided hike into this cathedral valley, blessed with beautiful vistas and towering waterfalls, and see Hawaii back in time.

Hawaiian Fishponds of Molokai

Molokai has many well-preserved Hawaiian fishponds along 20 miles of its south shore, most built 700-800 years ago.

Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove, Molokai

Located in Kaunakakai, Kapuaiwa Coconut Beach Park is one of Molokai’s most recognizable natural landmarks.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai

Take a memorable mule ride from 1,700 feet to the seaside Kalaupapa National Historical Park, one of the most remote settlements in Hawaii.