Kaunakakai Wharf is a commercial and recreational harbor set on Molokai’s southern shore. At 1900 feet, it is the longest wharf in the state of Hawaii and simply strolling down to the docks and back is a nice activity in itself.
Just because the harbor is long, however, doesn’t mean it’s big. It’s a slim concrete finger that juts through a narrow channel in the reef with a handful of boats that bob on the moorings, just waiting to sail out to sea.
Many local Molokai fishermen set off before sunrise, loading up boats full of ice, for mornings of fishing the fringing reef and trolling the Penguin Banks. In summer months, if faraway surging storms in the South Pacific send residual waves toward the southern shores, you may find island youth flocking to the harbor with bodyboards and surfboards to ride the waves just offshore.
One of the most recognizable boats stationed at the harbor is the Molokai Princess, a ferry that shuttles passengers back and forth from Maui. When the ferry arrives from Maui, the harbor is often packed with school groups returning from volleyball or basketball on Maui, or teams of construction workers, tree trimmers, and families all riding together on the ferry. Visitors who wish to arrive by ferry in the morning, should call ahead for reservations for tours or transportation since Molokai Harbor is about a mile from town.
If, however, you visit the harbor at times apart from the ferry, you’ll likely spot fisherman casually casting rods off the rocks and children splashing and playing in a cove that’s backed by a shore full of palms. This is also the spot in the winter months where you’d board a boat to go whale watching, or try your luck at deep sea fishing with a local Molokai captain.
Even if you’re not riding the ferry or taking a tour boat, a trip to Molokai Harbor is still worth a stop because it’s one of the better places on the island to catch colorful sunsets.