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“Great learning experience. Beautiful setting.”
Review of Molokai Mule Ride

Molokai Mule Ride
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Kalaupapa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A two hour mule ride down an 1800 foot cliff to Kalaupapa Peninsula.
Reviewed December 29, 2013

The day starts at the mule stables. The orientation was complete. They were very helpful in matching the rider to the mule. My wife has a fear of riding any animal, horses, mules, whatever. There were three guides for the 10 of us. One guide stayed with my wife and led her mule by a rope. She made it down and up the 3 mile cliff without problems.
The town of Kalaupapa is set on the beautiful shores of Molokai. Very photogenic. But unfortunately the site of one of the saddest moments in the history of the island.
All in all, the day was educational, the guides competent and knowledgeable, and the setting - beautiful.

1  Thank Ken_O59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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139 - 143 of 252 reviews

Reviewed December 10, 2013

Oh my, this was an interesting experience. I loved the mule ride and would absolutely recommend it and do it again, but I have some disclaimers.

First, the website explicitly states that you should have an above average fitness level to ride the mules. While I'm sure that a lot of people with less than average fitness levels would be fine, there were people in our group who were struggling on the mules and who probably should have heeded this advice. If you need to stop for smoke breaks while on your mule (this happened), this may not be for you.

On a related note, please listen to the guides when they instruct you on how to encourage your mule to move. Yes, the mules make this trek almost daily and certainly know what they're doing. But they often like to stop to nibble on some grass. It is often necessary to steer them or goad them to keep things moving on the trail. Several people in our group completely ignored this instruction and simply sat there on the trial while their mules did their own thing. This ends up affecting the entire group because when one person isn't moving, everyone is stuck at a standstill. This happened frequently on our ride back up the cliff, and it was very frustrating.

Knowing how to steer your mule is also important so that your mule isn't allowed to wander under some low tree branches to eat grass, resulting in you being cut up by branches all over your face and upper body, screaming, scaring the mule, causing the mule to take off, and eventually falling off the mule. Yes, this happened to someone in the group. Please don't take this to mean that this experience is dangerous. Honestly, if this woman had given just one little tug of the reins, the mule would not have gotten so far under the tree. I never once felt in danger on the trek up or down the cliff, and I had full confidence in my mule's ability to react to me.

Another thing to be aware of is that once you are on the main part of the trail, you are going up or down in a single file line. You may not be near your friends and/or family if they are not on a mule in front of or behind you, and it is very difficult to switch the order and pass another mule once you are on the path. If you really need to be near someone in your group, make sure your mules stick together from the beginning.

Finally, bring a poncho! We had beautiful weather on the ride down the cliff and throughout our tour of the colony. About 1/2 hour into the ride back up the cliff though, it began to downpour. It didn't stop the entire way. I really didn't mind too much except for the fact that my camera and phone were in my backpack. My phone ended up having extensive water damage, so that wasn't ideal. A simple, cheap rain poncho or raincoat really would have made all of the difference, and I wish I had one with me.

Beyond these disclaimers, everything about the experience was great. The guides were friendly, the mules were sweet, the tour was interesting, and the views were beautiful. Yes, the price is a little steep, but it is an all-day activity that includes the mule rides, the Kalaupapa tour, and lunch. It is hard to find an experience that is more unique than this, and it is something I'm so glad I got to do.

1  Thank Sarah S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2013

We chose to hike down to the Kalaupapa Settlement rather than ride down on the mules since our feet are still in good condition to endure the trail. Hiking down was definitely work as much of the trail of 3.25 miles or so is not paved. There are a lot of rocks and uneven ground but the reward is the beautiful view all along the trail itself. While hiking, you may stop and go at your own speed, meet others that are hiking either up or down, and just take your time with the hike (not so much going down as you are competing with the mules at the same time) but going back up you are definitely able to take your time.
The hiker fee is $69 per person made at the Rare Adventures- Molokai Mule Ride Office headquarters. Definitely a good idea to make it in advance, preferably a month or two in advance to secure a spot on the Kalaupapa Historical Tour. The hiker fee includes the permit fee to hike on the trail, health permit, and lunch which was sandwich with each ingredient wrapped separately, a granola bar, package of potato chips, and a bottle of water.

When we got down to the mule posting area to meet the mule riders, we were greeted by "Buzzy Sproat" our tour leader and driver of Damien Tours. He drove us (around 15 of us- 6 of us were hikers). He was very friendly and personable. He lead us to the Fusiana's Bar (community meeting place of Kalauapapa) where cold drinks and rest rooms were located, Mother Marianne's Memorial Site, the original landing dock where goods are shipped and received,
the Main church in town, then up the National Park Service Visitor Center, and to St Philomena's church (Father Damien helped to build it) and to Kalawai (original landing place for patients), with a stop for lunch at Judd's Park.

Buzzy went out of his way to help people-There were 2 hikers on our tour with no money for the tour. He helped to pay it. He made stops along the way that we requested to historical sites and pointed out different sites.

Visiting Kalaupapa is an experience of a lifetime that has helped me understand the how people diagnosed with Hansen's disease were left to survive on their own. Everything in the village is like "momentarily stopped in time." It is a very quiet place with no one walking around-- just plenty of memories surrounding the sites. Definitely something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Recommended for anyone who is interested in learning about the Kalaupapa settlement's history. Well worth the price.

6  Thank chillywillypenquin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2013

We loved the mule ride on Molokai! It was a little intimidating at first, but the mules did a great job of taking care of us. Our tour of Kalaupapa was absolutely the most enjoyable and educational experience we have had in all of Hawaii! I learned about Father Damien and the leprosy patients as a little girl in parochial school and his story has always been fascinating to me. I would have never imagined being able to visit the spot where all of this history took place.The tour guide was fantastic, so knowledgeable about the history of Kalaupapa and Kalawao, it took you back in time to when Father Damien was caring for the patients and allowed us to experience the reality of it all. I highly recommend a visit to Molokai if only to take this tour, but we spent a week on the island and enjoyed every minute of it. Minimum age limit of 16 years doesn't allow this experience for families with young children.

2  Thank gerric917
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 26, 2013

The Molokai Mule Ride turned out to place as probably the number one experience of our four island / 20 day trip to Hawaii. Though a history buff, I found the tour at the bottom of the trail to be interesting and informative but cannot imagine taking the colony tour by flying in. For us, it was the trail up and down the cliff on the mules that was the highlight. We stayed on Molokai for four days so arriving on time to start the ride was not an issue as it can be for those trying to come in from another island just for the day. In spite of the rain we encountered that day (or maybe because of it), the memories of spectacular views you will never experience from a Waikiki high rise hotel are forever etched inside us. It started raining petty hard about ten minutes before the scheduled mount up time so they delayed about 45 minutes until it quit and looked like it may be done for a while. Being Hawaii, that was not the case, as after going about a third of the way down the trail, new clouds moved in, keeping us drenched until we reached the bottom of the cliff. We had a grand old time! The guides were great and our group was luckily absent any whiners, just hardy travelers with a pioneer spirit. This is not a trip for everyone. However, if you are reasonably fit, wear jeans, sensible shoes, and are looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience you will not be disappointed.

If you are pregnant or have a bad back...DON'T GO
None of our group ended up sore or hurting in any way but for obvious reasons the mule ride should be avoided for these two groups.

If you have an aversion to being dirty, muddy, or wet....DON'T GO
You will get dirty. The mules do sweat. The trail does get narrow at times and you may brush against trees, rocks, and other mules.

If you have trust issues...DON'T GO
You will have to let go and trust your mule. You don't need to guide them. They have made this trek hundreds of times and know the way to do it safely. As the old wrangler Buzzy told us at the top - none of the mules are suicidal. :)

If you have extreme height issues...DON'T GO
Probably, only if your fear of heights is borderline paranoia do you need to worry. We went down in muddy conditions with a driving rain through the most precarious sections of the trail without incident. TRUST YOUR MULE

For everyone else, this a must do on your stay on Molokai.

2  Thank steelpens09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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