Located east of O’ahu across the 25-mile wide Kaiwi Channel, Moloka’i lies north of Lan’I separated from its neighboring isle by the Kalohi Channel. The island of Moloka'i, part of the Hawaiian Island Chain, has been shrouded in secrecy and seclusion for centuries. The little island, the home of hula, is only 38-miles long and 10-miles wide. The annual Moloka'i Ka Hula Piko festival is a joyous celebration held each year on the island. At night, visitors and residents on the west end of Moloka’i can see the lights of Honolulu on O’ahu or persons along the south shore of the island can view the lights of nearby Lana’i and Maui.
Wrapped in a legacy of ancient sorcery and carrying the social stigma of its infamous leper colony, Moloka'i’s long-time reputation as the “Lonely Island” was until the last decade reinforced by a shrinking population. Today, Moloka’i has a growing population and a new nickname: “The Friendly Isle” as the islands welcomes visitors to what remains one of the last “unspoiled” islands. Moloka’i calls itself the “most Hawaiian” of all the inhabited islands: as much as 60 percent of the residents share native Hawaiian ancestry. A genuine welcoming spirit of Aloha combined with a laid-back atmosphere reminiscent of old Hawaii invites visitors to explore the land and enjoy the island’s warm hospitality.
In the past, the island was known for Moloka’i Ranch’s pineapple and cattle production. Perched on the Kalaupapa Peninsula, on the northern coast of the isle, settlements were established in 1866 to quarantine persons with leprosy. The settlement operated until 1969 and is now preserved by the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Society, which has stewardship of the settlement and all of Kalawao County.
The Island of Moloka’i formed from the action of two shield volcanoes, known locally as East Moloka’I and the tiny West Moloka'i. East Moloka’I is home to the highest point on the island, Kamakou at 4,970 feet. The East Moloka’I volcano is all that remains of the southern half of the original mountain. The north half of the mountain was destroyed in a massive collapse more than 1.5 million years ago and lies scattered northward across the floor of the Pacific Ocean. The visible remains of the volcano on Moloka’i are the highest sea cliffs in the world. On its south shore, Moloka’i also holds bragging rights to the longest fringe reef in the United States.
GoHawaii.com, the Moloka’i official tourism site, invites visitors to discover the rich historical heritage and spectacular scenery of the island, stating, ““Hawaiian by nature,“ the island of Molokai remains true to its island roots. There are no traffic lights—just aloha—in the harbor town of Kaunakakai, where fisherman haul in their daily catch and farmers showcase fresh-picked produce from neighboring fields. Quiet your spirit and you’ll feel the mana (power) that protects the island, from an area near Maunaloa said to be the birthplace of hula to the indescribable beauty of Halawa Valley. Or, descend 1,700 feet on a sure-footed mule to the remote settlement of Kalaupapa and change your perspective forever.”