High Chief Lot Kapuaiwa, who later became King Kamehameha V, gained the title to the land that later became Molokai Ranch in 1863. Kapuaiwa enjoyed visiting his summer house on Molokai and began raising cattle. After Kapuaiwa, the title passed in 1883 to Princess Ruth Keliiokalani, and then to her daughter Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. At this point the land became part of the Bishop Estate.
In 1897, a group of Honolulu businessmen purchased 70,000 acres from the trustees of the Bishop Estate and leased another 30,000 acres from the Hawaiian government. At this time American Sugar Company also began sugar cane production on the lands. About 10 years later, the land was bought out by Charles M. Cooke and under his son, George P. Cooke, the ranch manager, Molokai Ranch raised cattle, planted sweet potato and wheat crops and produced honey. Molokai Ranch also leased out portions of the land for pineapple cultivation.
In 1999, Molokai Ranch opened the Molokai Ranch Lodge, just after opening a “tentalow” village with luxury camping at Kaupoa Beach. In 2001, Molokai Ranch bought an additional 4,100 acres, which included the Kaluakoi Resort.
In 2008, Molokai Ranch reduced operations on Molokai. In 2012, under new management, Molokai Ranch announced plans to develop a new strategy focusing on four pillars of business: animal husbandry, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and green improvements to existing infrastructure.