The Hawaiian island of Molokai is the fifth largest of the 8 main islands that make up the state of Hawaii. The island is approximately 38 miles long and 10 miles wide, with 88 miles of coastline, and is located about 25 miles southeast of Oahu. It is one of the smaller, less populated islands, and is considered to have a relaxed atmosphere and slower pace of life.
The island is known for Papohaku beach, which stretches nearly three miles and is the longest white sand beach in Hawaii. Molokai is also memorable for its high sea cliffs and tall waterfalls. Temperatures on the island average about 75 °F to 85 °F all year, rain falls in the winter months, with the annual rainfall averaging 30 inches.
The island's eastern region is a tropical rain forest, the western area is a dry plateau. The central area has fertile land where crops are grown, principally sugar cane and pineapple. On the north side of Molokai is Kalaupapa, a small peninsula bordered by the Pacific Ocean on 3 sides and 2000 feet high sea cliffs on the fourth.
The largest town is Kaunakakai, where almost half of the total population of approximately 8000 reside. The next largest villages are Kualapu'u and Maunaloa. Nearly 40% of the residents are of Hawaiian descent. The rest of the inhabitants are from various cultural backgrounds including (but not limited to) Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, Filipino, and are from many geographical areas including the United States. Kalaupapa Peninsula in Molokai was the place local people with Leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease) went to live to isolate themselves, starting around 1866. In 1873 a Catholic priest from Belgium, Father Damien, arrived and improved how the ill people were treated.
Molokai is part of Maui County, which has elected officials: the Mayor who is elected to a 4-year term of service, and the County Council, which is made up of 9 members who each serve 2 year terms. Molokai's small Ho'olehua Airport has no direct flights from large commercial airlines or from the mainland. To reach the island, visitors must take an inter-island plane from one of the larger islands.