Moloka‘i: Kaunakakai

Journey back to simpler times in Kaunakakai, Moloka‘i

A stroll around Moloka'i's central town takes you back to simpler times. You can picture King Kamehameha V visiting his summer home here in the mid-1800s. Named for his house, Kaunakakai's main street-Ala Malama Avenue-is now lined with mom-and-pop shops, boutiques, and one landmark bakery.


Glimpse missionary life and architecture on Church Row. Slowly drive by the seven houses of worship on Sunday mornings to hear inspiring voices lifted in song. Highway 460, 1.5 miles west of Kaunakakai. 

Across the road, Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove was planted during King Kamehameha V's reign in the 1860s. 

Eight miles north of town, Hawai'i's oldest sugar mill has earned the Moloka'i Museum and Cultural Center a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Highway 470, Mile Marker 4. 808-567-6436. 

From there, it's a short drive to Pala'au State Park and its cliff-side Kalaupapa viewing area.


You'll feel the aloha when you enter Something for Everybody, which sells clothing and gifts by local artists in an atmosphere of mutual help and support. 40 Ala Malama Street, Suite 201. 808-553-3299; 

Need gifts? Beach Break has local art, crafts, jewelry, books, kitchen and home decor, 'ukulele, and, of course, all things beachy. 2130 Maunaloa Highway, Kualapu'u. 808-567-6091; 

Stunning wearable art fills the bright space at Kupu A'e, a family-owned business that creates one-of-a-kind batik, screen-printed, and stamped pieces. 2130 Maunaloa Highway, Kualapu'u. 808-646-1504;


Owned by the Molokai Fish and Dive folks next door, the 'Ono Fish and Shrimp Truck has fresh and delicious fare, especially the fish tacos and cucumber kimchi. 53 Ala Malama Avenue. 808-553-8187. 

The landmark Kanemitsu Bakery and Restaurant serves straight-up local comfort food. Come to the back door at night for piping-hot bread slathered with butter, cinnamon, cream cheese, and/or jelly. 79 Ala Malama Avenue. 808-553-5855. Molokai Pizza Cafe builds its pies with house-made tomato sauce and dough made daily. There's also pasta and, when available, fresh fish. 15 Kaunakakai Place. 808-553-3288.