Nestled on the north shore of Molokai island in Hawaii, lies a peculiar and eerie town called Kalaupapa. Established in 1866 as a quarantine colony for those with leprosy, Kalaupapa was once led by Belgian priest Father Damien until he succumbed to the disease in 1889.
Despite the lifting of quarantine restrictions in 1969, Kalaupapa remains an isolated town, accessible only by hiking, riding a mule, or taking a small airplane. The town is steeped in rich history, with original buildings still standing and a few remaining residents who have continued to call it home.
This article aims to explore the strange and fascinating atmosphere of Kalaupapa, a Hawaiian ghost town. We will delve into the location and history of the town, taking a closer look at the remains and atmosphere that make it an intriguing destination for visitors. We will also examine the access restrictions to Kalaupapa and its current residents, highlighting the unique challenges they face in preserving the town’s legacy while adapting to modern life.
Join us on this journey of discovery as we unravel the mysteries of Kalaupapa and the stories it has to tell.
- Kalaupapa is a town on the north shore of Molokai island in Hawaii that was established in 1866 as a quarantine colony for those with leprosy.
- Father Damien, a Belgian priest who arrived in Kalaupapa in 1873, devoted his life to caring for the colony’s residents until he succumbed to the disease in 1889, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and sacrifice.
- Kalaupapa is accessible only by hiking, riding a mule, or taking a small airplane, and visitors must be accompanied by a guide to explore the town and learn about its history and residents.
- Despite its dark history, Kalaupapa remains a fascinating and unique destination for visitors, offering a glimpse into a bygone era and the deep sense of community that has formed in the town.
Location and History
Located on the North shore of Molokai’s Makanalua Peninsula, Kalaupapa served as a colony for those with leprosy since 1866. Its significance lies in its history as the last leper colony still in use and the selfless service of Belgian priest Father Damien.
He arrived in Kalaupapa in 1873 and devoted his life to caring for the colony’s residents, building churches, homes, and hospitals. He contracted leprosy himself and died in 1889, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and sacrifice.
Father Damien’s legacy lives on in Kalaupapa, where many original buildings remain among a few remaining residents. The colony is a reminder of the hardships and stigma faced by those with leprosy and the tireless efforts of those who cared for them.
Quarantine restrictions were lifted in 1969, but Kalaupapa remains an isolated and eerie place, with a strange atmosphere of tiny getaway cottages interspersed between rows and rows of tombs. Despite the freedom to leave, most residents choose to remain living in the colony, a testament to the deep sense of community that has formed in Kalaupapa.
Remains and Atmosphere
The remnants of early Hawaiian inhabitation, including a heaiau or temple site, add to the intriguing atmosphere of Kalaupapa. Visitors can explore the ancient ruins and learn about the history of the Hawaiian people who once inhabited the area. The heaiau is a sacred site and a reminder of the rich cultural heritage that still exists in Kalaupapa.
In addition to the heaiau, Kalaupapa is also known for its haunting memories. The town is filled with rows and rows of tombs, a somber reminder of the residents who once lived and died there. The strange atmosphere of tiny getaway cottages interspersed between the graves adds to the eerie feel of the town.
Despite its dark history, Kalaupapa remains a fascinating place to visit, offering a unique glimpse into the past.
Access and Residents
Access to Kalaupapa is limited to a small airplane, hiking, or a mule ride down a steep trail, creating a sense of adventure and excitement for those who wish to visit.
The small airplane is the most popular mode of transportation, with flights departing from Honolulu and arriving at the Kalaupapa airport.
The hiking trail, which runs along the peninsula’s edge, is a challenging but rewarding experience, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the towering cliffs.
The mule ride down the trail is also popular and provides a unique landscape perspective.
Visitors to Kalaupapa must be accompanied by a guide, who will provide insight into the colony’s daily life and the town’s history.
The guided tours are free and offer a comprehensive overview of the town, including visits to the remaining buildings and the temple site.
While visitors cannot stay overnight, they can spend the day exploring the town and learning about the residents who still choose to call Kalaupapa their home.
Despite its remote location, Kalaupapa offers a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era and a unique perspective on the history of Hawaii.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of medical treatments were available for leprosy patients in Kalaupapa?
Leprosy treatment methods in Kalaupapa included isolation, rest, and medication. Patients were quarantined in the colony and treated with Chaulmoogra oil, later replaced by sulfones. Surgery was also used to remove nerve damage.
Are there any traditional Hawaiian cultural practices still observed by the residents of Kalaupapa?
Traditional practices in Kalaupapa include the annual celebration of Makahiki, a Hawaiian festival that honors the god Lono. Residents also practice hula, chant, and other cultural activities to keep their traditions alive in the isolated colony.
How has the tourism industry affected the Kalaupapa community?
The impact of tourism on Kalaupapa has brought challenges for locals, including increased pressure on the limited resources and infrastructure. The community has had to balance the desire for economic growth with preserving their unique cultural and historical heritage.
What kind of wildlife can visitors expect to see in Kalaupapa?
Visitors to Kalaupapa may spot Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, and a variety of seabirds. The area’s ecological diversity includes coastal cliffs, wetlands, and rainforest, providing a range of habitats for wildlife sightings.
How has the Kalaupapa community adapted to modern technology and communication methods?
Despite challenges in adapting to modern communication methods, Kalaupapa residents have embraced technology. In 2018, a survey found that 85% of residents use cell phones and 66% use social media, highlighting the community’s ability to blend tradition with modernity.