"Kalaupapa" Kalaupapa by kahiwa

Kalaupapa Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 0 photos

I had the opportunity to visit Kalaupapa, and took a step back in time. The isolated peninsula, a former settlement for Hansen's disease (leprosy) patients, is now part of the National Parks Service. A few dozen patients remain as residents, accompanied by a few spouses, nurses, a nun, and State and National Parks Service employees.

The peninsula is located on the island of Molokai, part of the state of Hawaii. It is a separate county in and of itself - Kalawao County. The area is isolated from the rest of the island by sheer cliffs and rocky coastlines. In earlier times, leprosy victims were forced onto ships, taken to just offshore from Kalaupapa, and tossed overboard to live the rest of their lives isolated on the peninsula. Father Damien came to minister to their needs, and eventually contracted the disease and died from it. He is buried in the church's courtyard and is much revered by all who know of him. He has been beatified and is on his way to becoming declared a saint.

As a visitor, you may enter the setllement during the day but you must leave before nightfall. You must stay with your tour group at all times. If you are hosted by a resident, you may stay overnight. Facilities are limited, and there is no place to buy food. You must bring your own supplies.

The serenity and casual lifestyle is in stark contrast to the city life I usually lead. The people are warm and friendly, although some are very shy and not used to strangers. The scenery is breath-taking and full of a tragic and sad history.

If you get the opportunity to visit Kalaupapa, take it now. In a few years, there will be no residents left and the National Parks Service will take over the area as a historic park. An important piece of history will have passed into our memories.

  • Last visit to Kalaupapa: Aug 2002
  • Intro Updated Jul 29, 2003
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