Molokai music at Kanikapila

Every visitor to Molokai should know the word kanikapila – the Hawaiian phrase for “jam session.” A kanikapila is where friends, strangers, locals, or visitors can all get together to strum a tune, sing, dance, and “talk story.” It’s an integral part of Hawaiian culture that thrives within the Molokai community. Even a show of professional performers can morph into a session that’s peppered with stories, laughter, and song.

One of the best places to find live music on Molokai is at the oceanfront restaurant inside Hotel Molokai, just two miles outside of Kaunakakai. Enjoy local Molokai musicians playing old Hawaiian music from your oceanfront seat.

For a scene that tends towards “modern nightclub”—yet still retaining a Molokai feel — head over to Paddler’s Restaurant and Bar. At “Paddler’s”, a regular lineup of the island’s top artists help Molokai let loose and party. Visiting artists also sometimes throw concerts at Paddler’s, so check online for the live entertainment schedule.

For a classic daytime kanikapila and welcoming island vibe, Coffees of Hawaii has a large lanai where island residents and visitors gather to sing, dance, and relax in the uplands of Kualapuu. Feel free to bring your own instrument and join in, or simply sit back and enjoy the melodies of Molokai. It’s one of the most welcoming and inclusive scenes you’ll find anywhere in Hawaii. Keep in mind that while it usually takes place a couple of times per week, the schedule can be variable. Your best bet is to ask around town for the next kanikapila, and check local bulletin boards for events, festivals, or community gatherings where bands are scheduled to perform.