Seemingly deserted and just a couple of missed rainfalls from becoming a desert, Molokaʻi's West End occupies a surprisingly significant place in Hawaii's history and culture. Puʻu Nana is the site of Hawaii's first-established hula school and the Maunaloa Range was once a center of sorcery. In recent decades much of the land has been controlled by the Molokaʻi Ranch, and its fortunes – for better and more recently for much worse – have affected the entire island. Hale O Lono Harbor is the launching site for long-distance outrigger canoe races, and the island's longest beach, Papohaku, dominates the west coast.
Given the economic woes of Molokaʻi Ranch the atmosphere out west is a bit bleak. With the exception of one superlative store, Maunaloa might as well hold tumbleweed races, while the Kaluakoi resort area is beset by financial troubles. Still, you can ignore all the earthly turmoil on one of the many fine beaches.