Kalaupapa, Molokai - Dream Come True
Kalaupapa Travel Blog› entry 1 of 4 › view all entries
I know what you're thinking....this trip happened what....7 years ago?! But that's okay. I still want to share, if you still want to read about it.
Kalaupapa was once a leper colony. Yep, you heard right...a leper colony. It is located on a remote peninsula on the northern part of the island of Molokai in the Hawaiian islands. Years ago in the 1800's and early 1900's, foreigners that were coming to Hawaii brought diseases with them that the locals had no immunity to. There was also no cure back then, so those who had it were separated from the general population and sent to Kalaupapa to live out the rest of their days. It didn't matter if you were young or old or rich or poor. If you had it, you were sent away. Period.
I wanted to go to Kalaupapa after reading about it. I also did a college project on it. So finally it happened in November 2001. My husband & I had visited the island before, and unfortunately the trip in 2001 was our last. We haven't gone back since. Perhaps one day we will, but with the airfare so expensive now it is not likely that this will happen soon.
After a searching on the internet I was able to secure a reservation and our permits. You can only get there by plane, hiking, or mule. You'll still need permits for all 3 I believe. No one is allowed to go in whenever they want. We decided to hike down and back up. The hike down was easy of course and the trail is well kept. The hike back up is a different story. More on that later.
Once we got down it was like stepping back into time. The place is clean and pristine. They have a gorgeous beach, but it's obvious no one spends much time there. Only a handful of residents live there now. They have comfortable yet simple homes, electricity, running water, t.v., etc. The store and gas station are only open at certain times and on certain days. We boarded an old bus along with the rest of the group who came down on mules and took the tour.
The tour lasted about 2 hours. We rode out to the churches that Father Damien had built. All were well kept and pristine. Even visited his gravesite. Lunch was provided on the tour. Sandwich, small bag of chips and canned juice. There were feral cats running around in the park where we ate, but they didn't bother us much. We stopped by places of interest like the pier where a ship brings suppplies about once year or so. The store and gas station were closed so there was nothing to buy. We did stop at an old Japanese temple that is now a souvenir shop/musem though. I bought post cards. The residents were all inside their homes. However I only saw one person searching through a pile of scrap metal and that was all. The graveyards are old and mostly dilapidated. You'll see a bunch of dilapidated stuff there. Old buildings and foundations where they once stood, old cars, rock walls, etc. Lots of stuff to look at and even more history to learn about. Our tour guide was terrific. His name was "Pat".
When it was time to go I wasn't looking forward to the hike up. The switchbacks are murder. I had to stop many times to catch my breath. What a workout! If you are hiking you must bring your own water and good shoes are a must. Lucky for us, we had good weather that day. If it was raining it would've made things nasty. The trail is dirt but well kept as I mentioned before. Rain would've made it slippery and muddy in the steep parts.
Another thing...if you go you must take a camera. I would definitely recommend this adventure to anyone. When the last of the residents pass away, Kalaupapa will probably be turned into a protected historical site if it isn't already.
Hope this helps if you are interested in visiting. Thanks for stopping by.