Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Malokai

MOLOKAI.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

Hansen’s illness (leprosy) was presented to Hawaii by foreigners in 1835 and soon spread out through the islands. King Kamehameha V, in an attempt to stop the epidemic, created a law getting rid of all those afflicted to this remote peninsula jutting out from underneath the imposing sea cliffs (the world’s greatest) of Molokai’s north coast, which ended up being the last house for the dissatisfied exiles.

Around 40 years later, a thoughtful Belgian missionary called Father Damien concerned check out, and stayed with the nest for 16 years when he died after contracting the disease himself (Father Damien was officially canonized by the Catholic Church in 2009).

The enforced seclusion law was finally withdrawn in 1969; today, just a handful of clients, all seniors, remain. You can go to the peninsula to see the village and Father Damien’s church and gravesite just by pre-arranged trip– either flying down to the peninsula (which takes about eight minutes) or riding a mule down a high, 2-mile (3.2 km) path zigzagging across the cliffs.