With 25 churches for a population of 7,500 people, the island of Molokai has the most churches per capita of any island in Hawaii.
From Kalaupapa to Maunaloa and Kaunakakai to Halawa, simple spires and rooms full of pews provide humble places for worship—and nowhere is the prevalence of churches more prominent than along aptly named “Church Row.”
Located 1.5 miles west of Kaunakakai on Maunaloa Highway, Church Row is a small cluster of seven Molokai churches. Some of the churches date back all the way to the late 19th century, and a few still feature weekly sermons conducted entirely in Hawaiian.
If driving through town on a Sunday morning, pull the car over along Church Row to hear the exultant voices—harmonic hymns, wafting on the breeze, of communities intrinsically linked by faith all singing their weekly praise. A church of Jehovah’s Witness stands next to the Church of Latter Day Saints, which is right next door to Calvary Chapel and the Molokai Church of God. There’s Kalaikamanu Hou Congregational Church and Ierusalema Pomaikai, along with the small Lamb of God Church and Bible School.
Directly across the street from Church Row is Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove, which was planted with over 1,000 palms by King Kamehameha V. It’s Hawaii’s finest remaining example of a royal coconut grove, and when backed by melodic Hawaiian songs originating across the street, there’s a brief feeling of being transported back 150 years.
Granted, the scene is decidedly quieter on weekdays when churchgoers aren’t actively worshipping, but the basic architecture here on Church Row can still offer an historical glimpse into missionary life on the island.
For more information on Molokai churches, including service times and maps, visit the Molokai Churches page of visitmolokai.com.