Molokai Geography

Molokai from air

Molokai is the fifth largest of the six main Hawaiian islands (only the island of Lanai is smaller) encompassing 260.0 square miles (673.4 km²). At its longest points the island measures 10 miles (16 km) from north to south and 38 miles (61 km) from east to west, with a total shoreline of 88 miles (142 km).

Molokai is made up of two shield volcanoes – East Molokai (also known as Wailau) and West Molokai (also known as Mauna Loa). Molokai's highest peak is Kamakou, which is part of the East Molokai Volcano, rising 4,961 feet (1,512 m).

East Molokai Volcano used to be much larger in the past. About 1.5 million years ago, it experienced what is known as a catastrophic collapse, where its northern portion broke off and slid to the bottom of the ocean. Today, only the volcanoes southern half remains standing. What remains above the ocean's surface on the island's north shore are the tallest sea cliffs in the world, dropping 3,315 feet (1,010 m) to the Pacific Ocean. Molokai's south shore has the longest fringing reef in the United States, measuring almost 25 miles (40 km) in length.

The largest town on Molokai is Kaunakakai, located on the island's south shore. It has a population of 3,425 (the total population on Molokai is 7,345). Molokai is part of Maui County, which also includes the islands of Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

Molokai's tallest mountains:

Mountain Feet Meters
Kamakou 4,961 1,512
East Molokai (Wailau) 3,970 1,210
West Molokai (Mauna Loa) 1,381 421

Molokai elevation

About 20,000 years ago Molokai was joined together with the neighbor islands of Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe. It was one big island referred to as Maui Nui, meaning Big Maui. There was a mini ice age at this time which caused the sea level to drop. As the islands eroded and the sea level rose, Maui Nui became what is now four separate islands. The ocean channels between these four islands are relatively shallow.