Kaunakakai Town


About Kaunakakai Town


Kaunakakai is the largest town in Molokai, Hawaii and is home to about half of the island’s population. As of 2010, Molokai’s population was just under 8,000. That gives you an idea of how small and remote this Hawaiian island is. What’s the one thing missing from such a small town? A traffic light. Kaunakakai Town is so small that “downtown” area is only three blocks and there are no stop lights. None.

The town has existed practically unchanged since the early 1900s, when the sugar and pineapple industries played a more significant role in this paniolo (cowboy) town. In all, there are about 20 stores, including a pharmacy, surf shop, bakery, furniture store, co-op, bookstore and a handful of places to buy groceries. The main strip in Kaunakakai is Ala Malama Avenue. The nearby Kaunakakai Harbor is where barges and tugboats bring in goods, and where local fishermen catch fresh fish.


In the mid-1800s, King Kamehameha V used to spend his summers at Kaunakakai in a nearby house called Ala Malama. Nowadays, you’ll find tourist and visitors along the main street named Ala Malama Avenue, after Kamehameha V’s summer homefinding places to shop, eat, and stock up on gasoline and snacks. Many of the buidlings in Kaunakai Town are still in original form, like the Molokai Public Library (the island’s only library), which was constructed in 1937.

Take a tour of Molokai with Discover Hawaii Tour’s Molokai Adventure Tour or tour it by helicopter.

Facts & Trivia

  • Island: Molokai
  • Amenities: Shops, restaurants, attractions, public parks, Kaunakakai Harbor, gas station.
  • Insider Tip: A stop at Kanemitsu's Bakery is a "Molokai Must". Order the famous onion-and-cheese bread, butter it up or add jelly, butter, cream cheese, cinnamonwhatever your favorite condiments are!
  • Fun Fact: You won't find a trace of chain stores or big business establishments in Kaunakakai, Molokai. With stronghold of mom-and-pop shops throughout the town, Kaunakakai yields a true sense of local community.
  • What to Expect: Along the main street, Ala Malama Avenue, you'll find everything you need: gasoline station, groceries, pharmacy, bakery and much more. Throughout the town: a flower shop, clothing store, furniture store.
  • Pop Culture: The 1930s song "The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai" made this little town known to the world. Bing Crosby sang it, as well as several international and local artists throughout the decades. (Hint: Kaunakakai sounds like Cow-Na-Cock-Eye).