The Most Fascinating Facts about Molokai, Hawai’i

Updated July 1, 2021.

What?! You’ve never heard of Molokai? Join the club—there are a lot of people in it! This is the least visited of the main Hawaiian islands, but in spite of that, or perhaps because of that, I have found it to be the most fascinating. Here is a quick list of some of the most fascinating things I learned about Hawaii’s “Most Hawaiian” island.

It has the State’s Longest Pier

It’s true! Kaunakakai Pier in Kaunakakai Town is the longest in Hawaii. You can walk or drive out to watch the sea life, including the coral reef and fish!

Jogging out to the end of the pier!
Read on: What to Do on Molokai

It’s Home to the Largest Fringing Reef in the United States

And speaking of that reef, it’s the largest fringing reef in the United States! It stretches 30 miles along Molokai’s south coast.

An aerial shot of the reef from our helicopter tour.
Read on: Helicopter Tour Over Maui and Molokai

It is the Birthplace of Hula

The Hula may be extremely popular on the other Hawaiian islands, but it got its start right here on Molokai! There is a hula festival here every spring! Hula is more than a dance to Hawaiians, it’s a whole language in itself, and every movement has a meaning. It’s how they tell their family stories and lineage.

Hula dancers at a luau on the Island of Hawai’i.
Read on: What We Ate at the Luau

It’s the 5th Largest Hawaiian Island

There are eight main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and seven are inhabited by people, and tourists can visit six of them. They are, in order of size from largest to smallest: The Island of Hawai’i, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lana’i, Ni’ihau, and Kaho’olawe. Niihau is visitable by invitation only, and Kahoolawe is covered in unexploded WWII bombs.

Molokai is highlighted in pink!
Need help deciding? How to Choose the Best Hawaiian Island for You

It’s the Only Hawaiian Island Comprised of 2 Counties

It’s true! Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kaho’olawe make up Maui County. However, the Kalaupapa Peninsula on Molokai’s north shore comprises the entirety of Kalawao County, which is administered separately!

Kalaupapa Peninsula as seen from the Kalaupapa Lookout.
Read on: What to Know Before You Visit Molokai

It’s Home to the Tallest Sea Cliffs in the World

Molokai used to be about twice the size it is now. What happened? A great earthquake caused half the caldera (volcanic crater) to fall into the ocean. What’s left are stunning 4,000-foot sea cliffs that are best experienced from a helicopter or small airplane.

Rows and rows of sea cliffs as seen from Kalaupapa.
Tallest sea cliffs=tallest waterfalls
Keep reading: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Hawaii

You Can Mail a Coconut!

It’s true! You can mail an approved (i.e. inspected) coconut from the Hoolehua Post Office! I’ll be posting about the whole experience soon, but suffice it to say it was easy and only took four days to make its way to my parents in Tennessee!

Decorated by a local artist and addressed by me!
Read on: How to Mail a Coconut

You Can See Three Other Islands from Molokai

Find yourself on East Molokai? Take a peek at Maui and Lanai in the distance! Exploring West Molokai? You can see O’ahu!

A view of the island of Lanai from our lanai!
More here: Epic Landscapes of the World

It’s Called the “Friendly Isle”

The people of Hawaii are always friendly—it’s that spirit of aloha! But the people on Molokai take it to another level! They’re truly glad to show you their beloved island, and you can’t help but feel the kindness all around you. There were a few signs posted by locals who don’t necessarily want commercialized tourism like the “big four” islands have. Show respect to the people on this island, and they will show kindness and respect to you.

We got to make leis with the kindest gardener, Dick, at Molokai Plumeria Farm! He showed us how to choose the best plumeria blossoms, how to pick them, and how to make leis! Be on the lookout for a blog post all about it soon!
Read on: Lei Making at Molokai Plumeria Farm

It Also Claims to be the “Most Hawaiian” Island

The other islands might dispute this claim, but you’ll know it’s true when you get there! It’s one of the last untouched pieces of Hawaiian paradise, and they like it that way.

One family is responsible for preserving their Hawaiian culture, and they happily take people on a tour of their beautiful property and give them an authentic cultural experience.
Read on: Hiking Hawaii: Molokai

It’s Home to an Elephant!

Okay, so it’s an elephant-shaped rock. Its Hawaiian name is Mokuhooniki, and when seen from the land, it resembles a sea turtle!

See the long nose of an elephant?
See the “Turtle” from land on your drive to the Halawa Valley Cultural Hike!

There are No Traffic Lights on Molokai

Nope! There are a few stop signs, but there is so little traffic on Molokai, they don’t need stop lights—not even flashing ones! You’ll see some stop signs, but mostly, everyone just drives slow. You’re on an island… how far do you need to go?!

Oh yeah, and no wind mills or cable!
Read on: 5 Days on Molokai

The Only Way to Visit Molokai is by Plane

People used to come by boat in the past, but the seas around Molokai are mighty rough, especially the Molokai Channel between Maui and Molokai. There are no non-stop flights from the Mainland, so you will have to change planes on either Oahu or Maui.

Look at that cute little airplane!
Read on: Flying On O’hana Airlines

It’s the Home of a Former Leper Colony

And actually, it’s a main draw for tourism these days. No one knew how to treat leprosy or even how it was transmitted in the 1860s, and the disease was spreading rapidly through the islands. King Kamehameha V forced everyone in the islands with leprosy to be banished there in an effort to eradicate the disease. Only 5% of all the people in the world are able to get the disease, but Hawaiians were particularly susceptible.

A cure was found in the 1940s, and the patients were allowed to leave in the 1960s. However, those living there were given the choice to stay and be cared for by the State of Hawaii for the rest of their lives. Six patients remain today, and the Kalaupapa Peninsula is now a National Park as well as their home.

Siloama Protestant Church: the first church built by the first patients to arrive in 1866..
Read on: Your Complete Guide to Visiting Kalaupapa

Want more? Check out all my Molokai posts in the coming weeks and take a look at my Hawaiian Islands Page!

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8 responses to “The Most Fascinating Facts about Molokai, Hawai’i”

  1. […] hope you’ll love hiking on Molokai! For more, check out Fascinating Facts about Molokai and my Pacific Islands […]

  2. Where did you stay on island?

    1. We stayed at Hotel Molokai!

  3. […] Called the “Friendly Island” and “Most Hawaiian Island,” Molokai is the most untouched and second least populated of the islands. It’s notorious for being a leper colony from 1866-1969, and today you can visit the Kalaupapa Peninsula to learn more about this and the patients who have chosen to remain there. We loved everything about Molokai—the food, the slower pace, and the incredible beauty! For all the most interesting information, take a look at Fascinating Facts about Molokai, Hawaii! […]

  4. Awesome information. We have been coming here since 2007 and have enjoyed every minute. We stay at Ke Nani Kai resort. Very nice and peaceful.

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I love that you have been to Molokai so often! We loved our trip and can’t wait to go back!

  5. We have been visiting every year for 10 years
    We rent bicycles instead of a car. It’s a fantastic place to explore by bike or mountain bike ….the “boardwalk” in the forest is amazing

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      Love that!

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