Kaunakakai is the largest town in Molokai 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 home—finding 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.