Father Damien helped the people of Kalaupapa by creating farms and schools
Breathtaking views of Kalaupapa as you descend & ascend on mules
Makani Kai Air flights depart from Maui and Oahu a few times every day
Molokai's sea cliffs -the tallest in the world - rise up 4,000 feet high
St. Philomena Church at Kalawao where Father Damien was first laid to rest
Two miracles have been attributed to Father Damien's posthumous intercession
Original grave of Father Damien at St. Philomena Church in Kalawao
Father Damien was a "martyr of charity" - giving his own life in service to others
Your local guides share info about Molokai’s history and geology
Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009
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On your Molokai Day trips, you will take the Father Damien Kalaupapa Tour and experience the beauty and history unique to this island. Locals say that Kalaupapa is shaped like fish or shark, with its head facing east, its tail in the west, and the dorsal fin rising from its back on the island’s north shore. The stunning cliffs exhibit nature’s grandeur. Kalaupapa was first inhabited from about 650 AD, and for over 12000 years the people survived by fishing the rough oceans by outrigger canoe with nets and spears. The Hawaiians also farmed the harsh volcanic soil with sweet potatoes, onions and taro. Throughout the peninsula there are low rock walls that created thousands of small lots, and historians believe they were built as pens for raising pigs, windbreaks for growing crops, and property boundaries and land divisions. Heiaus for fishing were also built to make offerings.
When Hansen’s disease (aka leprosy) was introduced to Hawaii, King Kamehameha V banished all afflicted to the Kalaupapa. It is believed to have spread to Hawaii from China, and its rapid spread and unknown cure furthered the urgent need for complete and total isolation. Kalaupapa is surrounded on three sides by the Pacific ocean and cut off from the rest of Molokai by 1600-foot (488m) sea cliffs, so it provided the perfect isolated environment. Father Damien arrived in 1973, and he was a Catholic missionary priest from Belgium. He dedicated his life to serving the Hansen’s patients, and not only did he administer faith, he also built homes, churches and coffins. Father Damien also arranged for medical services and funding from Honolulu, and became a parent to his diseased wards. He contracted the disease, and after 16 years of selfless service, died in 1889. Father Damien’s wish to be buried among his people at Kalawao, and a black, concrete cross marks his grave site at Kalawao. In October 2009 he was canonized as a saint.
In the 1940s, with the advent of sulfone drugs, Hansen’s disease was put in remission and the sufferers are no longer contagious. Kalaupapa is now a National Historic Site, but access is very limited. It is home to approximately 122 residents, including just a handful of former patients.
Kalaupapa is an 11-thousand acre unincorporated community bordered by some of the highest sea cliffs in the world. Kalaupapa can be reached by air or by way of the trail descending the 1,600-foot-high (488m) cliffs. Along its course are 26 switchbacks that corkscrew in and out of canyons and ravines. This is four-hour guided ground tour of the Kalaupapa Peninsula includes all notable historic sites including Saint Philomena Church, the Bishop Home for Girls, lunch at the scenic Kalawao overlook, and the grave of Saint Damien.
Fly In Fly Out
Fly from Oahu to Molokai, and experience the history and beauty of Kalaupapa.
Check in: 8:00 am at Makani Air at Honolulu Airport General Aviation.
GPS: Honolulu Airport, 130 Iolana Place, Honolulu, HI 96819 ( Click to view map)
Hike Down Fly Out
If you’re looking for adventure with breathtaking views, the Hike Down Fly Out option is perfect for you.
Check in: 6:50 am at Makani Air at Honolulu Airport General Aviation (130 Iolana Place, Honolulu, HI 96819 ( Click to view map). No transportation from Waikiki is included in this option. You will have to arrange to have a cab take you from the airport at Ho’olehua to Molokai Mule Ride (290 Pu’u Kapele Avenue, Click to view map), which is near the trail head.
Kalaupapa Tour: The total distance of your hike is approximately 3.2 miles. You should plan to be at the bottom of the trail at the mule corrals no later than 10:15 a.m. The bus tour starts there, and let the bus driver know that you are on a Hike down / Fly out package with Makani Kai Air Charter. At the end of the tour, you will stay on the bus and be dropped off at the Kalaupapa Airport.
Note: If there is inclement weather, please stop at the mule barn topside prior to starting down to check if there are any reports from Kalaupapa. It is rare, but once in a great while, bad weather will preclude you from making the hike to avoid unnecessary risks.
The mule ride is a unique way to experience Kalaupapa. You will descend and ascend on mules, and you’ll be able to take in the panoramic views.
Check in: 6:50 am at Makani Air at Honolulu Airport General Aviation (130 Iolana Place, Honolulu, HI 96819 ( Click to view map). No transportation from Waikiki is included in this option. You will have to arrange to have a cab take you from the airport at Ho’olehua to Molokai Mule Ride (290 Pu’u Kapele Avenue, Click to view map), and also a cab back to the airport at the end our your tour.
Kalaupapa Tour: The bus tour starts at the mule corrals at the bottom of the trail.
What to Bring & Wear: Closed toed shoes and long pants or long shorts are required.
Restrictions: The maximum weight for the mule ride is 250 pounds.
Note: If there is inclement weather, please stop at the mule barn topside prior to starting down to check if there are any reports from Kalaupapa. It is rare, but once in a great while, bad weather will preclude you from riding to avoid unnecessary risks.
Tour includes: Guided ground tour in a bus, lunch & bottled water.
Plane: Makani Kai Air uses nine-passenger turboprop Cessna Grand Caravans to fly to Kalaupapa.
Restrictions: Persons under the age of 16 are prohibited from going to Kalaupapa by the Hawaii State Department of Health.
Cancellation Policy: Cancellations require a 48-hour notice for full refund.
Cruise Ship Passengers
We do not recommend this tour for cruise ship passengers.