Molokai Museum and Cultural Center

Molokai Museum and Cultural Center: Tour a Historic Sugar Mill And Learn About Kalaupapa's History
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Home to a historic mill and a remarkable photography collection, the Molokai Museum, and Cultural Center offers a wealth of insight into the history and culture of Hawaii's most misunderstood island. Stop in for a brief visit on your way to Palaau State Park or to stay occupied on a rainy day.

- The Local Expert Team

It should come as no surprise that every Hawaiian island has its own distinct ambiance, but this is never more clear than when you’re visiting the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center. A must-visit for anyone who wants to learn the inner workings of this often overlooked island, the museum reveals why Molokai is sometimes regarded as the most “Hawaiian” of the islands.

As the perfect rainy day activity, this museum teaches important lessons with the help of a variety of videos, presentations, and exhibits. Visits typically begin with watching twenty minutes of footage about the mill’s history and restoration.

From there, you have the opportunity to tour the remainder of the museum at your leisure. Feel free to ask plenty of questions, as the knowledgeable docents are happy to share fascinating insights about the history of the mill, the famed Kalaupapa colony, and other important events from Molokai’s history.

In addition to the onsite mill and the museum’s exhibits, this location has a few helpful amenities that you’ll appreciate. Restrooms are available, as are picnic tables, where you can enjoy a casual lunch after your visit.  

While your tour probably won’t last more than an hour or two, this is a great diversion as you take a scenic drive along the Kalau Highway. Stop in on your way to Palaau State Park, which requires a mere five minutes of additional driving.

A few of our favorite museum opportunities include the following:

R.W. Meyer Sugar Mill
This museum is notable for its location on the site of a historic sugar mill. Recognized by the Historic Hawaii Foundation, the R.W. Meyer Sugar Mill now provides a thorough overview of the sugar manufacturing process, as it typically looked in Hawaii during the 19th century.

The mill is small, but the machinery is interesting. It will quickly be evident that this was an animal-powered mill, where mules were responsible for crushing the sugar cane. Currently, this mill is listed as a National Historic Engineering Landmark.

Reflections of Kalaupapa: Past, Present, and Future
Kalaupapa’s controversial history has made its mark on Molokai as a whole and will continue to do so far into the future. This reality takes center stage at the museum’s most thought-provoking exhibit.

Featuring a variety of historic and modern photos of Kalaupapa residents and their family members, this collection brings a personal touch to the story of the colony. Most of the photos can be credited to the acclaimed Wayne Levin, who documented the settlement in detail during the 1980s. 

Gift Shop
The museum gift shop is as intriguing as the exhibits themselves. The vast collection includes a variety of local products, many of which have been produced by Molokai’s most renowned artisans. If nothing else, you’ll want to purchase the store’s lilikoi butter. You can also score a helpful map of the island, which will make navigating its sometimes confusing roads a lot easier. 

Get an in-depth look at the distinct culture of Hawaii’s most underrated island at the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center. A brief visit to this fascinating attraction will completely change your perception of the island’s vibrant traditions and complex history. 

Insider Tips:
-The entrance fee may be modest, but you’ll need to arrive equipped with cash if you want to tour this museum.
-Plan your itinerary carefully, as this museum’s open hours are short.