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Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa National Historical Park - BEST Places to Picnic

POB 2222
Kalaupapa, HI 96742

(808) 567-5802

WELCOME to Kalaupapa National Historical Park

The primary story being told at Kalaupapa National Historical Park is the forced isolation from 1866 until 1969 of people from Hawai'i afflicted with Hansen's disease (leprosy) to the remote northern Kalaupapa peninsula on the island of Molokai.

Kalawao & Father Damien

The first group of Hansen's disease patients were sent to Kalawao on the eastern, or windward side of the Kalaupapa peninsula on January 6, 1866. The churches of Siloama, established in 1866 and St. Philomena, begun in 1872 and associated with the work of Father Damien (Joseph DeVeuster) are located at Kalawao. Father Damien's life and death among his people foccussed the attention of the world on the problem of this disease and the plight of its victims.

Kalaupapa Settlement

Situated on the leeward side of the peninsula, Kalaupapa Settlement is still home for several surviving Hansen's disease patients whose memories and experiences are cherished values. Once a community in isolation, Kalaupapa now serves as a place for education and contemplation. The site became a national park in 1980 dedicated to preserving the memories and lessons of the past.

Park Management and Planning

This park is complicated to manage since the lands, waters, and historic buildings are not owned in fee simple by the National Park Service. This section has copies of the many agreements and leases with various religious organizations, the State of Hawaii departments, and the Hawaiian Homes Commission. These are the bases that thus far allow Kalaupapa to function as a National Historical Park.

Natural Features

Spectacular north shore sea cliffs, narrow lush valleys, a conic volcanic crater, verdant rain forest, lava tubes and caves, off-shore islands and coral reefs all exist within the national park boundary. Several of these areas provide rare native habitat for threatened or endangered Hawaiian plants and animals. 

For example, Hawaiian Monk seal pups have been born on Kalaupapa's beaches. These endangered mammals require solitude; Kalaupapa's physical isolation provides perfect habitat to support these births and subsequent care.


Guests of residents may tour Kalaupapa and Kalawao settlements and stay overnight. Facilities include picnic pavilions, post office, religious services at local churches, and visitor quarters for overnight stays. 

All other visitors may tour Kalaupapa and Kalawao settlements on a commercial tour. Lunch is enjoyed at a picnic pavilion at Kalawao with scenic views of the north shore cliffs and off-shore islands.

Did You Know?
The Hawaiian place name, Kalaupapa, translates into "flat leaf" which is what the peninsula appears as off the north pali coast of the island of Moloka'i.

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