Molokaʻi (Hawaiian: [ˈmoloˈkɐʔi]) anglicized as Molokai (/ˌmoʊləˈkaɪ, -ˈkɑːi, ˈmɒlə-/; ), nicknamed “The Friendly Isle”, is the fifth largest island of eight major islands that make up the Hawaiian Islands archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is 38 by 10 miles (61 by 16 km) in size at its extreme length and width with a usable land area of 260 square miles (673.40 km2), making it the fifth-largest of the main Hawaiian Islands and the 27th largest island in the United States. It lies east of Oʻahu across the 25-mile (40 km) wide Kaiwi Channel and north of Lānaʻi, separated from it by the Kalohi Channel.
The island has been known both for developments by Molokaʻi Ranch on much of the island, for pineapple production, cattle ranching and tourism. Residents or visitors to the west end of Molokaʻi can see the lights of Honolulu on Oʻahu at night; they can view nearby Lānaʻi and Maui from anywhere along the south shore of the island. In Kalawao County, on the Kalaupapa Peninsula on the north coast, settlements were established in 1866 for quarantined treatment of persons with leprosy; these operated until 1969. The Kalaupapa National Historical Park now preserves this entire county and area.
|Nickname: The Friendly Isle|
Satellite image of Molokaʻi
Location in the state of Hawaiʻi
|Area||260 sq mi (670 km2)|
|Area rank||5th largest Hawaiian Island|
|Highest elevation||4,961 ft (1,512.1 m)|
|Pop. density||28 /sq mi (10.8 /km2)|
Molokaʻi developed from two distinct shield volcanoes known as East Molokaʻi and the much smaller West Molokaʻi. The highest point is Kamakou on East Molokaʻi, at 4,970 feet (1,510 m). Today, East Molokaʻi volcano, like the Koʻolau Range on Oʻahu, is what remains of the southern half of the original mountain. The northern half suffered a catastrophic collapse about 1.5 million years ago and now lies as a debris field scattered northward across the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. What remains of the volcano on the island include the highest sea cliffs in the world. The south shore of Molokaʻi boasts the longest fringing reef in the U.S. and its holdings—nearly 25 miles (40 km) long.
Molokaʻi is part of the state of Hawaiʻi and located in Maui County, except for the Kalaupapa Peninsula, which is separately administered as Kalawao County. Maui County encompasses Maui, Lānaʻi, and Kahoʻolawe in addition to Molokaʻi. The largest town on the island is Kaunakakai, which is one of two small ports on the island. Molokaʻi Airport is located on West Molokaʻi.
The United States Census Bureau divides the island into three census tracts: Census Tract 317 and Census Tract 318 of Maui County, Hawaiʻi, and Census Tract 319 of Kalawao County, Hawaiʻi. The total 2010 census population of these was 7,345, living on a land area of 260.02 square miles (673.45 km2). Molokaʻi is separated from Oʻahu on the west by the Kaiwi Channel, from Maui on the southeast by the Pailolo Channel, and from Lānaʻi on the south by the Kalohi Channel.
Molokaʻi is split into two main geographical areas. The low western half is very dry and the soil is heavily denuded due to poor land management practices, which allowed over-grazing by goats. It lacks significant ground cover and virtually the entire section is covered in non-native kiawe (Prosopis pallida) trees. One of the few natural areas remaining almost intact are the coastal dunes of Moʻomomi, which are part of a Nature Conservancy preserve.
The eastern half of the island is a high plateau rising up to an elevation of 4,900 ft (1,500 m) on Kamakou peak and includes the 2,774 acres (11.23 km2; 4.334 sq mi) Molokaʻi Forest Reserve. The eastern half is covered with lush wet forests that get more than 300 in (7,600 mm) of rain per year. The high-elevation forests are populated by native ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees and an extremely diverse endemic flora and fauna in the understory. Much of the summit area is protected by the Nature Conservancy's Kamakou and Pelekunu valley preserves.
Below 4,000 feet (1,200 m), the vegetation is dominated by exotic flora, including strawberry guava (Psidium littorale), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.), and cypress (Cupressus spp.). Introduced axis deer (Axis axis) and feral pigs (Sus scrofa) roam native forests, destroying native plants, expanding exotic plants through disturbance and distribution of their seeds, and threatening endemic insects. Near the summit of Kamakou is the unique Pepepae bog, where dwarf ʻōhiʻa and other plants cover the soggy ground.
Molokaʻi is home to a great number of endemic plant and animal species. However, many of its species, including the olomaʻo (Myadestes lanaiensis), kākāwahie (Paroreomyza flammea), and the Bishop's ‘ō‘ō (Moho bishopi) have become extinct. Molokaʻi is home to a wingless fly among many other endemic insects.
It used to be thought that Molokaʻi was first settled around AD 650 by indigenous peoples most likely from the Marquesas Islands. However, a 2010 study using revised, high-precision radiocarbon dating based on more reliable samples has established that the period of eastern Polynesian colonization of the Marquesas Islands took place much later, in a shorter time frame of two waves: the "earliest in the Society Islands c. 1025–1120, four centuries later than previously assumed; then after 70–265 years, dispersal continued in one major pulse to all remaining islands c. 1190–1290." Later migrants likely came from Tahiti and other south Pacific islands.
Although Captain James Cook recorded sighting Molokaʻi in 1778, the first European sailor to visit the island was Captain George Dixon of the British Royal Navy in 1786. The first significant European influence came in 1832 when a Protestant mission was established at Kaluaʻaha on the East End of the island by Reverend Harvey Hitchcock. The first farmer on Molokaʻi to grow, produce and mill sugar and coffee commercially was Rudolph Wilhelm Meyer, an immigrant from Germany who arrived in 1850. He built the first and only sugar mill on the island in 1878, which is now a museum.
Ranching began on Molokaʻi in the first half of the 19th century when King Kamehameha V set up a country estate on the island, which was managed by Meyer and became what is now the Molokaʻi Ranch. In the late 1800s, Kamehameha V built a vacation home in Kaunakakai and ordered the planting of over 1,000 coconut trees in Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove.
Leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease) was among Eurasian diseases introduced to the Hawaiian islands by traders, sailors, workers and others who lived in societies where these diseases were endemic. Because of the islanders' lack of immunity to the new diseases, they suffered high rates of infection and death from smallpox, cholera and whooping cough, as well as leprosy. Sugar planters were worried about the effects on their labor force and pressured the government to take action to control the spread of leprosy.
The legislature passed a control act requiring quarantine of people with leprosy. The government established Kalawao located on the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on the northern side of Molokaʻi, followed by Kalaupapa as the sites of a leper colony that operated from 1866 to 1969. Because Kalaupapa had a better climate and sea access, it developed as the main community. A research hospital was developed at Kalawao. The population of these settlements reached a peak of 1100 shortly after the beginning of the 20th century.
In total over the decades, more than 8500 men, women and children living throughout the Hawaiian islands and diagnosed with leprosy were exiled to the colony by the Hawaiian government and legally declared dead. This public health measure was continued after the Kingdom became a U.S. territory. Patients were not allowed to leave the settlement nor have visitors and had to live out their days here. In 1969 the century-old laws of forced quarantine were abolished. Former patients living in Kalaupapa today have chosen to remain here, most for the rest of their lives. In the 21st century, there are no persons on the island with active cases of leprosy, which has been controlled through medication, but some former patients chose to continue to live in the settlement after its official closure.
Pater Damiaan de Veuster, a Flemish priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary served as a missionary for 16 years in the communities of sufferers of leprosy. Joseph Dutton, who served in the 13th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1883, came to Molokaʻi in 1886 to help Pater Damiaan and the rest of the population who suffered from leprosy. Pater Damiaan died at Kalaupapa in 1889 while Joseph Dutton died in Honolulu in 1931 at the age of 87. Mother Marianne Cope of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Syracuse, New York, brought six of her Sisters to work in Hawaiʻi with leprosy sufferers in the late 19th century, also serving on Molokaʻi.
Both Father Damiaan and Mother Marianne have been canonized as Saints by the Roman Catholic Church for their charitable work and devotion to sufferers of leprosy. In December 2015, the cause of Joseph Dutton was formally opened, obtaining him the title Servant of God.
Over the years the Ranch company has also acted as a developer, establishing hotels and related amenities for resort tourists on their property. There have been protests and activities by community activists such as fence cutting and poisoning of the Ranch’s exotic African Safari animals in 1994, an arson attack on a recently renovated Ranch house at Kaupoa in 1995 or the destruction of five miles of Ranch water pipes in 1996.
In 2007 community residents organized the "Save Laʻau Point" movement to oppose Molokaʻi Ranch's attempt to expand its resort operation. As a result, on March 24, 2008, Molokaʻi Ranch, then the island's largest employer, decided to shut down all resort operations, including hotels, movie theater, restaurants, and golf course, and dismiss 120 workers. In September 2017 the company that owns Molokaʻi Ranch, Singapore-based Guoco Leisure Ltd, put this 55,575 acre property, encompassing 35% of the island of Molokaʻi, on the market for $260 million.
Because of its rural, agricultural nature, Molokaʻi has Hawaiʻi's highest unemployment rate. One third of its residents use food stamps. As of 2014, the largest industry on the island is seed production for Monsanto and Mycogen Seeds, including GMO seeds.
The tourism industry on Molokaʻi is relatively small, compared to the other islands in Hawaiʻi. Only 64,767 tourists visited Molokaʻi in 2015. For years, residents of Molokaʻi have resisted private developers' attempts to dramatically increase tourism. Accommodations are limited; as of 2014, only one hotel was open on the island. Most tourists find lodgings at rental condos and houses.
National Geographic Traveler magazine and the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations conduct annual Destination Scorecard surveys, aided by George Washington University. In 2007, a panel of 522 experts in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship reviewed 111 selected human-inhabited islands and archipelagos around the world. Molokaʻi ranked 10th among the 111 destination locales. The survey cited Molokaʻi's pristine, breathtaking tropical landscape; environmental stewardship; rich and deep Hawaiian traditions (the island's mana); and visitor-friendly culture. The neighbor islands of Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi, Maui and Oʻahu, ranked 50, 61, 81 and 104, respectively.
Molokaʻi can be reached by plane. Planes fly into Molokaʻi daily from other Hawaiian islands including Oʻahu (Honolulu and Kalaeloa), Maui (Kahului) and Hawaiʻi (Kona) on Mokulele Airlines, Makani Kai Air, Paragon Air and Hawaiian Airlines.
A ferry that formerly sailed between Molokaʻi and Lāhainā Harbor, Maui closed operations on October 27, 2016. Sea Link President and Senior Capt. Dave Jung attributed the closure to competition from federally subsidized commuter air travel and declining ridership.
The island of Molokaʻi is served by Molokaʻi General Hospital, which operates all day, every day. It is also serviced by Molokaʻi Community Health Center, Molokaʻi Family Health Center, and Daniel McGuire, MD.
The island contains many parks and other protected areas, including Palaʻau State Park, Kiowea Beach Park, Kakahaia National Wildlife Refuge, Molokaʻi Forest Reserve, Pelekunu Preserve, George Murphy Beach Park, Halawa Beach Park, and Papohaku Beach Park (3 miles of pristine beach) in the portion within Maui County. Today Kalawao County is preserved by the Kalaupapa National Historical Park (accessible by guided mule or hiking tour).
The island can be traversed by a two-lane highway running east to west (highways 450 and 460). Highway 470 is a spur up to the barrier mountains of Kalawao County and the Kalaupapa peninsula. By land this area (Kalaupapa) can only be reached by mule and hiking trails. Most access to the Kalaupapa peninsula is by sea.
Maui Economic Opportunity operates public transportation on Molokaʻi.
The Bishop's ‘ō‘ō or Molokai ‘ō‘ō (Moho bishopi) is a member of the extinct genus of the ‘ō‘ōs (Moho) within the extinct family Mohoidae. It was previously regarded as member of the Australo-Pacific honeyeaters (Meliphagidae). Lionel Walter Rothschild named it after Charles Reed Bishop, the founder of the Bishop Museum.East Molokai Volcano
The East Molokai Volcano, sometimes also known as Wailau for the Wailau valley on its north side, is an extinct shield volcano comprising the eastern two-thirds of the island of Molokaʻi in the U.S. state of Hawaii.Father Damien
Father Damien or Saint Damien of Molokai, SS.CC. or Saint Damien De Veuster (Dutch: Pater Damiaan or Heilige Damiaan van Molokai; 3 January 1840 – 15 April 1889), born Jozef De Veuster, was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary religious institute. He won recognition for his ministry from 1873 to 1889 in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi to people with leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease), who were required to live under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokaʻi on the Kalaupapa Peninsula.During this time, he taught the Catholic faith to the people of Hawaii. Father Damien also cared for the patients himself and established leadership within the community to build houses, schools, roads, hospitals, and churches. He dressed residents' ulcers, built a reservoir, made coffins, dug graves, shared pipes, and ate poi from his hands with them, providing both medical and emotional support.
After eleven years caring for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony, Father Damien realized he had also contracted leprosy when he was scalded by hot water and felt no pain. He continued with his work despite the infection but finally succumbed to the disease on 15 April 1889.
Father Damien has been described as a "martyr of charity". He was the tenth person in what is now the United States to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. In both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, Father Damien is venerated as a saint. In the Anglican communion, as well as other denominations of Christianity, Damien is considered the spiritual patron for leprosy and outcasts. Father Damien Day, April 15, the day of his passing, is also a minor statewide holiday in Hawaii and to this day Father Damien is the patron saint of the Diocese of Honolulu and of Hawaii.
Upon his beatification by Pope John Paul II in Rome on 4 June 1995, Blessed Damien was granted a memorial feast day, which is celebrated on 10 May. Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 October 2009. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him "the Apostle of the Lepers."Hoʻolehua, Hawaii
Hoʻolehua (also spelled Hoolehua) is an unincorporated community on the island of Molokai in Maui County, Hawaii, United States. It lies just off Hawaii Route 460, next to the Molokai Airport. Its elevation is 620 feet (189 m). Because the community's name has been spelled multiple ways, the Board on Geographic Names officially designated it "Hoʻolehua" in 2003. Although it is unincorporated, it has a post office, with the ZIP code of 96729.Kakahaia National Wildlife Refuge
Kakahaiʻa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1977 to permanently protect wetland habitat for endangered endemic waterbirds and wintering migratory wetland birds and to maintain the structural integrity of an ancient Hawaiian fishpond.Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement and National Historical Park
Kalaupapa National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park located in Kalaupapa, Hawaiʻi, on the island of Molokaʻi. Coterminous with the boundaries of Kalawao County and primarily on Kalaupapa peninsula, it was established by Congress in 1980 to expand upon the earlier National Historic Landmark site of the Kalaupapa Leper Settlement. It is administered by the National Park Service. Its goal is to preserve the cultural and physical settings of the two leper colonies on the island of Molokaʻi, which operated from 1866 to 1969 and had a total of 8500 residents over the decades.
More than 7300 people live on the remainder of the island, which was a site of cattle ranching and pineapple production for decades. Much of these lands were purchased and controlled by the owners and developers of Molokai Ranch. This part of the island is also a tourist destination.Kalawao County, Hawaii
Kalawao County is a county in the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is the smallest county in the 50 states both by population and land area. The county encompasses the Kalaupapa or Makanalua Peninsula, on the north coast of the island of Molokaʻi. The small peninsula is isolated from the rest of Molokaʻi by sea cliffs over a quarter-mile high—the only land access is a mule trail.
Because of the small population, Kalawao County does not have the functions of other Hawaii counties. Instead, it is a judicial district of Maui County, which includes the rest of the island of Molokaʻi. The county has no elected government.
It was developed and used from 1866 to 1969 for settlements for treatment of quarantined persons with Hansen's disease (leprosy).Kamakou
Kamakou is the highest peak on the island of Molokai, at 4,961 feet (1,512 m). It is part of the extinct East Molokai shield volcano, which comprises the east side of the island.
Kamakou is located within the 2,774 acres (11.23 km2; 4.334 sq mi) Molokai Forest Reserve, estimated to contain more than 250 rare native Hawaiian plants, many of which exists only in this part of the world. Two examples are the olomaʻo (Molokai thrush) and kākāwahie (Molokai creeper). Monthly tours are held by The Nature Conservancy.Kaunakakai, Hawaii
Kaunakakai is a census-designated place (CDP) in Maui County, Hawaiʻi, United States. It is the largest town on the island of Molokaʻi. The population was 3,425 at the 2010 census. It has the largest port on the island and the longest pier in Hawaii. The town was made famous in the 1930s by the song "The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai", beginning an ongoing tradition of designating an honorary mayor for the town.Makani Kai Air
Makani Kai Air, a subsidiary of Schuman Aviation Company, Ltd., is an FAA Part 135 scheduled air carrier based in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The airline offers regularly scheduled passenger service between Honolulu International Airport, Hoolehua Airport, Molokai, Kalaupapa Airport, Molokai, Kahului, Maui and Princeville Airport, Kauai. The airline charges a flat-rate airfare between locations. The airfare is good for every seat on every flight, every day. The scheduled service between Kalaupapa to Hoolehua Airport is among the shortest scheduled flights in the world.
Schuman Aviation Company, Ltd., also offers charter airplane and helicopter services statewide. Another subsidiary, Magnum Helicopters, offers doors off tours of the island of Oahu.
Makani Kai Air has been operating since 1998. It began regularly scheduled passenger service between Honolulu and Kalaupapa in 2009. In 2011, Makani Kai won the Essential Air Service contract for Kalaupapa, and commenced service under the contract in January 2012. In June 2013, Makani Kai began regular daily service to "topside" Molokai at the Hoolehua Airport. On May 1, 2019, Makani Kai Air began twice daily service between Honolulu International Airport and Princeville Airport on Kauai. On August 1, 2019, Makani Kai Air began air service between Kahului, Maui, and Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.Marianne Cope
Marianne Cope, also known as Saint Marianne of Molokaʻi, (January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918) was a German-born American religious sister who was a member of the Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, New York, and founding leader of its St. Joseph's Hospital in the city, among the first of 50 general hospitals in the country. Known also for her charitable works, in 1883 she relocated with six other sisters to Hawaiʻi to care for persons suffering Hansen's Disease on the island of Molokaʻi and aid in developing the medical infrastructure in Hawaiʻi. Despite direct contact with the patients over many years, Cope did not contract the disease.
In 2005, Cope was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Cope was declared a saint by the same pope on October 21, 2012, along with Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th-century Native American. Cope is the 11th person in what is now the United States to be canonized by the Catholic Church.Maui County, Hawaii
Maui County, officially the County of Maui, is a county in the U.S. state of Hawaii. It consists of the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai (except for a portion of Molokai that comprises Kalawao County), Kahoolawe, and Molokini. The latter two are uninhabited. As of the 2010 census, the population was 154,834. The county seat is Wailuku.Maui County is included in the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI Metropolitan Statistical Area.Maunaloa, Hawaii
Maunaloa or Mauna Loa is a census-designated place (CDP) in Maui County, Hawaiʻi, United States, in the western part of the island of Molokai. The population was 376 at the 2010 census.Molokai Airport
Founded in 1927, Molokai Airport, (IATA: MKK, ICAO: PHMK, FAA LID: MKK) also known as Hoolehua Airport is a state-owned, public use airport located six nautical miles (7 mi, 11 km) northwest of Kaunakakai, on the island of Molokai in Maui County, Hawaii, United States. It is the principal airport of the island.
As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 89,468 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2008, 65,984 enplanements in 2009, and 88,688 in 2010. It is included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021, in which it is categorized as a non-hub primary commercial service facility.Molokai coffee
Moloka‘i Coffee refers to coffee grown, processed and roasted on the island of Moloka'i in Maui County, Hawaiʻi, United States.National Register of Historic Places listings in Hawaii
This is a list of properties and historic districts in Hawaii listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More than 340 listings appear on all but one of Hawaii's main islands (Niihau being the exception) and the Northwestern Islands, and in all of its five counties. Included are houses, schools, archeological sites, ships, shipwrecks and various other types of listings. These properties and districts are listed by island, beginning at the northwestern end of the chain.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted October 11, 2019.West Molokai Volcano
West Molokai Volcano, sometimes called Mauna Loa for the census-designated place, is an extinct shield volcano comprising the western half of Molokai island in the U.S. state of Hawaii.ʻUalapuʻe, Hawaii
ʻUalapuʻe is an unincorporated community and census-designated place on the island of Molokai in Maui County, Hawaii, United States. Its population was 425 as of the 2010 census. The community is located along Hawaii Route 450 on the southeast coast of the island of Molokai. ʻUalapuʻe does not have villages, but many famous fishponds.
Islands, municipalities, and communities of Kalawao County, Hawaii, United States
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or counties
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Islands, municipalities, and communities of Maui County, Hawaii, United States
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or counties
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