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Kaunakakai, Molokai

Kaunakakai, Molokai

  • Name: Kaunakakai
  • What: Molokai’s central town
  • Where: 15 minutes southeast of Molokai Airport

In the central town of Kaunakakai, an absence of traffic lights take you back to a simpler time, virtually unchanged since the early 1900s. This charming paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town is also the island’s main harbour, where some locals still fish for their dinner. Stroll down to Kaunakakai Harbor to the end of the state's longest pier, extending well past the reef - just you, the local fisherman and the sound of local boats slowly jetting out of the harbour.

The town's main strip, Ala Malama Avenue, was named after the nearby house used by King Kamehameha V in the 1860s. You'll find it easy to browse the shops and boutiques of its business district. You’ll find crowds at the famous Kanemitsu's Bakery, where locals and visitors alike line up after hours to get piping-hot loaves of fresh bread. Be sure to order their famous onion-and-cheese bread and slather your half loaf of bread with jelly, butter, cream cheese or cinnamon. It’s a Molokai must.

Stay the night at the Aqua Hotel Molokai, a Kaunakakai landmark located on Kamiloloa Beach, or find a condominium or cottage rental. Then be sure to visit the Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove to see palm trees in one of the last royal coconut groves. Across the way you’ll discover “Church Row,” the site of seven small, missionary-style churches, some dating back to the late 19th century. Other local Kaunakakai eateries and shops include Friendly Market, Mrs. K’s Lunch Counter, Imamura’s Store, Outpost Natural Foods, Pascua’s General Store, Kalele Bookstore and the Molokai Pizza Café. And don’t forget the Saturday outdoor market, perfect for a Molokai day trip.