There are few ancient landscapes left in the Hawaiian archipelago that are as untouched as the Kalaupapa peninsula.
For 900 years Hawaiians lived and thrived on this northern jut of land. Archaeological evidence of their lives and connection with the ‘aina or land, is everywhere, from their house sites to their irrigated taro fields to their stone walls. Historical accounts speak of populations of 1,000 to 2,700 living on the peninsula, in the valleys, and in the villages.
A series of epidemics in the 1800s decimated the Hawaiian population and by 1853 only about 140 people lived in the village of Kalaupapa. In 1865, fearing the spread of leprosy, the Kingdom of Hawai’i quarantined lepers to the isolated peninsula. Until 1969 over 8,000 people were sent there.
Father Damien de Veuster arrived at the remote settlement on May 10, 1873. Under his leadership, basic laws were enforced, shacks became painted houses, working farms were organized and schools were erected. On October 11, 2009, Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, becoming Hawai’i’s first saint.
Fifth largest island in the Hawaiian chain (168,768 acres)
88 miles of shore
Highest point Kamakou 4,961 feet
Born from two volcanoes, the island has a unique geology.
Moloka’i boasts the world’s highest sea cliffs, Hawai’i’s longest waterfall, the largest white sand beach in the state, and 24.8 miles of coral reef — the longest in the U.S.
A view of the highest sea cliffs in the world, towering 3,600-3,900 feet in the air. They formed a natural barrier for the Kalaupapa colony of outcast lepers in the 19th century. If you’d like to see more of these sea cliffs they are featured in the movie Jurassic Park III.
Kahiwa Falls is a tiered waterfall located on the northern shore of Molokai, between Wailau and Papalaua valleys. The waterfall is about 2,165 feet tall, although often only 1,749 feet of its drop are counted as the main fall. The falls have 6 tiers, the highest drop is more than 600 feet. Kahiwa Falls can be observed only from the sea or from air. At strong winds waterfall may get caught and raised upwards.
One of the longest and finest beaches in the Hawaiian Islands, Papohaku Beach extends over three miles of coastline and is more than 300 yards wide. Even though the beach is beautiful, it is often deserted and it is not uncommon to find yourself alone in paradise here. Strong tradewinds coming from the west can whip up the sand along this long beach during windy weather.
Me Moloka`i nui a Hina
`Âina i ka wehiwehi
E ho`i no au e pili
And Hina’s great Moloka`i
May I return to stay