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The HAWAII Magazine Guide to Visiting Molokai

What to see and do (continued)

• See Kalaupapa

No place on Molokai is more compelling than the once isolated Kalaupapa peninsula, where Father Damien (now Saint Damien) once ministered to the exiled sufferers of Hansen’s disease. The area is now a National Historic Park.

You can gaze down at Kalaupapa from atop the world’s tallest sea cliffs at Palaau State Park at the end of Highway 470.

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To visit Kalaupapa itself, you must have a permit, since visitation is limited to protect the remaining patients, who stay there by choice. If you show up without a permit, you will be denied entry.

The easiest way to get a permit is to book with Damien Tours [808-567-6171], the only tour service operated by patients. The company will handle the permit process for you.

Outside of chartering a plane to land at the small airport, you have only two choices in getting to the 4-1/2-square mile Kalaupapa peninsula. 

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First, you can hike down (and, of course, back up) the 3-mile trail that descends the 1,700-foot sea cliffs, with 26 switchbacks.

Or, second, you can arrive by mule. The Molokai Mule Ride will take you down the trail and back up. The sure-footed mules know the way, you’re just along for the ride. The roundtrip ride takes 7-1/2 hours including the Damien Tour at the bottom. [290 Puukapele Ave., Hoolehua, (808) 567-6088]

Photos: David Croxford

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
HAWAII Magazine guide to getting to and staying on Molokai
Is Mauna Kea's summit baby-safe?
SLIDESHOW: Discovering Molokai

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