Sunday, May 20, 2012

Aloha to Kalaupapa - Father Damien's ministry on Molokai

Yesterday, my MIL and I made the "pilgrimage" to Kalaupapa National Historical Park.  From its website (at this link),

Enduring Spirit, Sacred Ground

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.

Father Damien, a Belgian priest, is best known for his work with Hansen's Patients.  On October 11, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Father Damien in the presence of King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium.  I had just moved to Hawaii and recall watching the local news filming the "pilgrimage" of Hawaiian Catholics for this ceremony.  

There are three ways to arrive on the remote peninsula of Kalaupapa:

- Hike down from "topside"
- Ride a mule down from "topside"
- Land on the short runway in a small chartered plane.

Can you guess which way we arrived?

We departed on a 10 seat prop plane from Honolulu.
The shortest distance from Oahu to Molokai is 26 miles.

The twenty five minute flight gave us
breathtaking views of Honolulu ... 

... and Hanauma Bay.

The Molokai coast gave rise to ....

... the tallest sea cliffs on the planet.

The "topside" flattened ... 

.... and the peninsula came into view.

The pilot (left) flew F15s in the Air Force.

The airport is the lifeline for the peninsula.

The pristine beaches are postcard perfect ... 
.... to showcase Hawaii's beauty!
The mule riders joined our tour.

We stopped at the only public "snack shack".
Kalaupapa looks like a ghost town.
There are only 11 patients in Kalaupapa.  
They are free to leave, but they have
chosen to remain in their "only" home.

Flowers always bloom in Hawaii.  
The "first settlement" to Kalaupapa ... 

... made from the readily available lava rock.
We visited St. Philomena Church where
Father Damien ministered to the residents.

During the 1940 tsunami, the head stones were
washed away.  They have been replaced without
names as the records were lost in time.

The peninsula gives visitors a view of
Mokapu and Okala  islands.

The cliffs circle the island ... 
... with endless photo opportunities.

We drove back to the airstrip and spotted the Coast Guard's lighthouse.  From Lighthouse Friends (at this link),

The long northern shore of Moloka`i is lined by sea cliffs that rise 1,700 feet above the ocean, making them the highest in the world. Extending out from roughly the center of the northern shore is the Kalaupapa Peninsula. Kalaupapa means 'flat leaf' and is an accurate description of the peninsula that was formed by a low volcano, which broke the surface of the water long after the rest of Moloka`i was formed. The peninsula is an isolated place, surrounded by the ocean on three sides and the sheer cliffs on the south.
Our return flight gave us more
panoramic views of Molokai.

Have you flown on a small plane? Visited a remote location? One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  This giveaway is open to all readers.  Comments are open through Saturday, May 26, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, May 27.


Kim in Hawaii

We landed safely back in Honolulu.


  1. beautiful pictures

    never flown on small plane

  2. Amazing pictures. The smallest plane I flew on held about 50 people. I hated the sensation when it turned.

  3. Love the pictures. No, I've never flown a small plane!

  4. Love the pictures.
    In Midland, Ontario we have a similar site, it is called Martyr's
    Shrine, where the Jesuit priests settled and were slaughtered.
    It is a very holy site.
    No, I have never flown in a small plane, I would be toooo scared to do that.

  5. What beautiful and stunning pictures. I wish that I could get good pics like this.

    I flew on a small plane many years ago from New York to Dulles. I was absolutely terrified the whole time, I felt every shake, rattle and roll and thought that we were going to crash.

  6. I've never flown in a small plane.

    Love all the pictures!

  7. I love this tour. I really did not know much about Molokai. Those cliffs are amazing. We went on a small float plane in Alaska. The ride offered some amazing views and it was fun to take off and land on water.

  8. Extremely interesting and great pics as usual! I've never ridden in a small plane but we took a horse ride up a mountain in Haiti to visit The Citadel which is a fort up amongst the clouds.

  9. I've only flown in a small plane once. I've never visited a remote location.

  10. Have not would to great pics whoo

  11. I haven't done either, but it sounds like fun.

  12. Only a Helicopter and that scared me to death. :) Kim, your pictures are just amazing. They allow me to visit a place I know I'll never get to. Thank you for these pics.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  13. I am impressed that you flew on a small plane given your dislike of flying. I have had ridden in a small plane (not my cup of tea but you certainly can get a good look at your surroundings) and have had the wonderful experience of having a helicopter ride over a couple of your beautiful islands. I love that sensation of being able to hover and land just like a butterfly (or mosquito, lol). Thank you for the lovely pictures.

  14. These photos are very lovely, thanks for sharing them with us! I've never flown on a small plane before but I guess I would like to try if given the chance.

  15. Thank you for the e-mail and the link to this wonderful travel log. Your pictures revive my memories of Molokai, which is played out in full historical context in Alan Brennart's novel. I was reading that the natives of Molokai are opposed to tourist development, which might not be a bad thing. Leave all the shopping and drinking to Waikiki. Molokai--it's tranquility and poignant history--holds a special place in my heart.

  16. I've not been in a small plane but I did visit a remote place in Haiti. We took a horse ride up a mountain to visit The Citadel which is up in the clouds!