Top Eight Attractions of Molokai’s Kalaupapa Peninsula

By September 30, 2009 Molokai Vacation Info No Comments

Land of Father Damien is Natural Wonder and Historical Treasure

The Kalaupapa Overlook is perched atop the tall Molokai seacliffs overlooking the beautiful Kalaupapa Peninsula which is surrounded on three sides by ocean and on the other side by tall cliffs rising thousands of feet.

The Overlook is located in Palaau State Park, about 10 miles from Kaunakakai, and provides panoramic views of the whole north-central coast, an area with a great deal of historical significance as well as natural beauty.

Kauleo Nanahoa, which is located near the Kalaupapa Overlook, is a natural rock formation that is considered a symbol of fertility and is said to help women become pregnant. A petroglyph field is located nearby, offering views of amazing cultural artifacts that were carved into the stones in ancient times.

Kalaupapa Trail makes its way down the steep cliffs from the Kalaupapa Overlook onto the remote peninsula of Kalaupapa, which is accessible only by airplane, foot, or mule.

Mules carry riders down this sometimes very narrow trail which descends about 1,600 feet and includes 26 switchback turns. Visitors to Kalaupapa are required to join an organized tour with either Molokai Mule Rides or Damien Tours.

Kalawao is the settlement on the eastern side of the Kalaupapa Peninsula.  This is where victims of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) were segregated beginning in 1865. In all nearly 9,000 people were quarantined at Kalaupapa.

St. Philomena Church is one of the most moving sites on the Kalaupapa Peninsula.  The church was built by Belgian priest Father Damien (Joseph Damien DeVeuster) who volunteered to minister to the victims of the disease at the Kalaupapa leper colony in 1873 and died there of leprosy in 1889.

Father Damien was originally buried at St. Philomena Church. In 1936 all but his right hand was removed from the site and sent to Belgium.

Damien Monument
In the Molokai Hansen’s Disease settlement is a Celtic Cross that was erected in 1893 as a Memorial to Father Damien, who will soon be declared a saint by the Vatican. Damien’s spirit lives on as one of Hawai‘i’s beloved heroes.  He is referred to as the “Martyr of Molokai.”

Molokai Lighthouse
Located at the tip of the Kalaupapa Peninsula, this historic lighthouse rises 138 feet.  The octagonal tower began its service in 1909, continuing until 1966.

Judd Park
Near the first Hansen’s Disease hospital on Kalaupapa is this lovely park. Great views of the north shore’s spectacular sea cliffs can be seen from Judd Park.

Visiting Molokai and taking a tour to the historic Kalaupapa Peninsula is an incredibly moving experience, not only because of the unbelievable natural beauty you will see there, but also because of the great historical significance of this remote location.