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“A beautiful and thought-provoking experience”

Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Kalaupapa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This historical park was a former leper colony run by Father Damien in the 1930s.
Bellingham, Washington
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“A beautiful and thought-provoking experience”
Reviewed November 5, 2012

Visiting Kalaupapa National Historical Park was for me a complex experience. The peninsula is spectacularly beautiful and wonderfully serene. But the tragic history of the settlement is so regrettable that I felt saddened even as I delighted in the views. We hiked down and back, and joined the mule-riders for the bus tour, guided by Norman. The hike is rather strenuous, and although the trail is wide, folks who are bothered by heights might be a bit uncomfortable in some spots. It is always muddy, and, as other reviewers have mentioned, the rocks and tree roots provide quite a challenge. There are steps almost the entire length of the trail, but they weren't made with short people in mind! I am 5' 2" and found many steps to be almost too high. Nevertheless, dedicated hikers will surely prefer this to riding the mules. One should carry water and allow at least 75 minutes to hike down, in order to join the bus tour on time. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time with Damien Tours, even if you are going in on foot; admission to the Park requires a permit, and no one is allowed to simply tour the Park on their own. Pack a lunch as well. Plan about 2 hours for the hike back up.
The bus tour is really enjoyable. Our driver was Norman, and he is a perfect guide. He seems to embody the gentleness and compassion of Father Damien and Mother Maryann. He did not merely inform us, he helped us understand on a spiritual level the meaning of the place.
It is an inspirational, beautiful, sad experience unlike the more typical Hawaiian attractions, well worth doing.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
6 Thank Barbara946
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Chicago, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
557 reviews
105 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 238 helpful votes
“Exceptional Experience. Take your time and feel the peace.”
Reviewed October 20, 2012

After reading Alan Brennert's moving novel "Moloka'i" I was inspired to visit Kalaupapa Historical Park. Because the young girl in the story, Rachel, made the journey by foot (in the dark no less) inspiration led me to have the experience by foot as well (as compared to taking the mules down the mountain). Arriving in Molokai, from the moment we landed at the small airstrip, one is overcome with an indescribable sense of peace and strong spirit.
The morning begins at 8 am for hikers. The trip is open ONLY to those over the age of 16. The hike down consists of a wide trail with no open cliff to the sea. So if one has a fear of heights I don't see this trail being a problem. The descent is steep however and one must maneuver across rocks roots and mud. Not a problem tho, but not for the casual hiker. The trek UP I found more challenging. Bring water and I would also maybe suggest Aleve or Motrin.
I purchased my permit to the park and lunch through the mule outfitter for $ 69 which provides also the bus tour and lunch. The lunch was good, sandwich, chips, water and granola bar. However one couple hiked down without a permit, paid $ 50 for the tour and brought their own lunch. Since I flew in late the day before, the package was great for me. However maybe purchasing the permit at the bottom of the trail is more cost effective.
The Tour. Norman was our tour guide. I loved the experience with Norman and when I go again I will ONLY go if I can go with Norman. Norman is a beautiful, gentle teacher. I realize he is far too young to have known Father Damien or the sisters, yet as he shared the story of the people of this valley, all of us on the tour were transported to the 1800's and the life these special people lived. It is no surprise, after listening to the story of Father Damien, that he was an inspiration to Gandhi himself.
A trip to Moloka'i should be viewed as a pilgrimage. Having neither a sense of religious affiliation nor an orientation to one God or one church, I still maintain this experience will touch you in such a manner that it will never be forgotten. Alan Bennert begins his novel describing Kalthe valley as the "Blue Vault of Heaven".
Travel down the Pali Coast Trail and experience this once in a lifetime trip back in time.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
6 Thank Rebecca C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orleans, Massachusetts
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Took most of the day, but not to miss experience”
Reviewed October 15, 2012

We rode the mules down the Pali Coast Trail, and were able to both experience the Cliffs themselves as well as the Kalaupapa Settlement. You can't appreciate Molokai's unique way of living without understanding Kalaupapa and the remote Pali Coast.
We felt it to be profound. The mules were easy to ride and there never seemed to be any danger as they made their way down the Pali Cliffs Trail.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank cecilia_elise_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Molokai, Hawaii
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Kalaupapa National Historical Park”
Reviewed September 18, 2012

This is a wonderful place to visit even if for only a day. Getting here is half the fun. Be prepared to hike and make sure your legs are in good stair-stepping shape! The only way here is by plane or hike or ride a mule. The views are spectacular. And the stories of how the Lepers got here and all their trials and tribulations are inspiring. This is also where I work and live as an RN! No kids under 16 are allowed.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank nurseypaula
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NJ
Level 5 Contributor
75 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Tears in Paradise”
Reviewed July 13, 2012

A truly inspirational visit to the former colony for Hansen's patients. It is such a beautiful place now, but must have been a total banishment for the "inmates" from former times. There is also the touching facts that two saints called Kalaupapa home. Saint Damien and Saint Mother Marianne Cope both lived and eventually died among the lepers of Kalauppa, Molokai, Hawaii.

Visited July 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank 76irv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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