Pu'u O Hoku has been a cattle ranch since roughly the turn of the 20th century, but the place has an older history. The naming of Pu'u O Hoku was described by Harriet Ne in her book “Tales of Molokai”:
Nakoa was a lonely man, who lived by himself and seldom spoke, not even to his neighbors, the people of Pa`uwela on Maui. He had a dark reason for his silence. A chief from Kukuihaele was seeking him for breaking a serious kapu, and Nakoa lived in constant fear of being captured and killed.
One night he dreamed a dream in which a voice spoke, "Gaze always over the bays of Pi`ilani."
He began to do so, and his neighbors thought him even stranger than before. But one day, he saw a white cloud shaped like a finger pointing to Molokai. At once he recognized it as a sign, took his canoe, and paddled under the cloud, going in the direction the finger pointed.
After four hours of steady paddling, he landed on the beach at Kahei Point. He beached his canoe and stood on the shore watching the finger cloud. He was amazed to see the finger point upward and thought to himself, I certainly can't go up into the sky. What is the sign saying? Perhaps it is telling me to climb the cliff and go upland?
Wasting no time, he began to climb the cliff. But when he got to the top he saw another hill and another. After he had climbed three hills, it was nightfall. Exhausted, he sat down, then lay on his back and gazed in the sky.
Suddenly he had a glorious feeling as if he could reach up and touch the stars. I shall call this place Pu`u o Hoku, or 'Hill of the Stars,' "he whispered. He did not move and finally fell fast asleep, his eyes closing as he still gazed at the stars.
He awoke the next day and went to see the famed kahuna Lanikaula of the sacred kukui grove. He told Lanikaula of his life of fear and confessed his fault in breaking the kapu.
"You need not run any more," Lanikaula told him. "It is the will of the gods that you stay here at Pu`u o Hoku. You will always be safe here."
Thus it was that Nakoa lived on the Hill of the Stars till the end of his days, lonely no longer.