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!
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.
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.
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 Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Niihau is visitable by invitation only, and Kahoolawe is covered in unexploded WWII bombs.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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?!
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.
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.
Want more? Check out all my Molokai posts in the coming weeks and take a look at my Pacific Islands Page!
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