Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Phone (808) 567-6924
5 stars from 5 reviews
Address Kalaupapa, Kalaupapa, HI 96742
An isolated, beautiful, and touching region preserving the memory of the 8,000 people who were imprisoned here and suffered from Hansen's Disease (leprosy).

• General: Educational • General: National Park
• General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking
• Hiking: Length: 4-5 Miles • Hiking: Level: Difficult
• Hiking: Major Elevation Changes • Sightseeing: Great Views
• Tours: Guided • Tours: Horses / Mules
• Tours: Self Guided • Cultural & Historical: Heiau / Sacred Site

Full Description
In the late 1800's, Hansen's Disease (also known as leprosy) was introduced to the islands and began spreading rampantly among the Hawaiian people. King Kamehameha V banished all that were afflicted with leprosy to the remote Kalaupapa peninsula on the north shore of Moloka'i.

What was once a prison for the unfortunate people suffering from leprosy, Kalaupapa is now a refuge for the few remaining elderly residents who once had the disease but are now cured. Their descendants are allowed to live reside here as well.

The entire area of Kalaupapa National Historical Park is dedicated to preserving the experiences and memories of the people who were forced to move here and live our their lives here. The park was established on December 22 in 1980 with the idea that valuable lessons may be learned here and so that those who live here can do so in a peaceful and comfortable way. The park supports education of Hansen's Disease as the disease was often shrouded in ignorance and fear.

State law requires that all visitors secure a permit prior to entering Kalaupapa. Permits can be secured by Father Damien Tours. Individuals that do not secure the permits will be denied entrance into the Park.

Kalaupapa has a strict visiting policy. Visitors must be a minimum of 15 years old, and must set up permits to visit at least 3-4 days prior to visiting. You must also have proper identification such as a driver's license, passport, etc.

You can visit Kalaupapa by mule (see The Kalaupapa Guided Mule Tour), airplane, boat, or a hike - just not by car. The hike down is about 3.5 miles long, and is very steep with uneven surfaces. If you are traveling by foot, be aware this is for experienced hikers in good physical condition. Also note that there aren't any medical facilities in Kalaupapa - so be careful.

The monuments to Father Damien are very touching. He dedicated his life to caring for, physically and emotionally, the many children and adults suffering from leprosy in Kalaupapa. He is a Sainted figure in the Hawaiian Islands as well as the Catholic Church.

Brett D
Joined: Mar 2017
Reviews: 56
Likes Received: 1
Having a mother in the medical field and hearing all about this island I knew I had to visit it when we went there. It was so surreal. The ride down was not easy riding on a mule. Just make sure you don't drink a lot of fluid before.

Once we were there it was beyond words to explain the feeling I got. It was like the past was still there and the people that we met were so pleasant and loved telling us stories. Mind you, we did come across a few who just wanted to go along their way. Remember this is their home and show respect. Best to read about the history before you come it comes in handy.
Tom T
Joined: Sep 2013
Reviews: 579
Likes Received: 33
An incredible experience and an amazing place to visit. If you get the chance, this is not to be missed.
Laura W
Joined: Nov 2016
Reviews: 35
Likes Received: 1
Absolutely amazing experience to learn the history and hear the stories of the wonderful saints who made such a difference for those imprisoned there.
Sue K
Joined: Mar 2016
Reviews: 196
Likes Received: 9
This was a fascinating trip in so many ways. My partner and I hiked down to Kalaupapa on a rainy day. The trail was steep and slippery, and we got glimpses of the ocean through gaps in the foliage. When we reached the village, we joined a tour and learned about the history of Kalaupapa's leper colony. It is sad, but an inspiring story and there are a few remaining residents, including our tour guide. We looked around the village and the church built by Father Damien. The setting is beautiful and we were lucky enough to spot a couple of whales breaching. The return hike was tough, but it was a fantastic day and one that I will always remember.
Consensus Guy
Joined: Jul 2013
Reviews: 11148
Likes Received: 26
Kalaupapa National Historical Park received an overall rating of 5 stars from a handful of reviews.
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