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Long Island (New York)

Molokai, Hawaii

Anyone with experience hiking in Molokai?

I'm heading over to Molokai tonight and need to scout a couple of hikes for the company I work for during the next 2 days. The first is the hike down to the former leper colony which I've read is great. Unfortunately, the hike requires a permit and you have to do a 4 hour bus tour around the colony in order to be allowed to even do the hike.  TripAdvisor reviews are mixed on the bus tour, but I'm sure I would be in agreement with those who didn't like it. Getting in and out of a bus for 4 hours to drive a block at a time because of legal issues, etc. doesn't sound like fun, especially when I'll still need to make the steep hike out after. The cost $50. Pretty high if you just want to do the hike. Hopefully, I can get on a tour. I left a message this morning (apparently you can only reach them between 7am-9am). It's a lot of logistics just to do a hike...

I wasn't given a name for the 2nd hike I was asked to scout, just a description, "east end of the island is a protected beach and there is a cliff walk east or south to see seals… " I'm pretty sure this would be at Halawa Beach Park. From what I've found online, hiking here requires a guide because the hike goes through private property. Perhaps this is just to the waterfalls in Halawa Valley and not along the beach... Does anyone have any insight? Could that description be for a different place on the east end?

Any other tips for good hikes on the island (preferably not requiring a guide)?


2 Answers

answered by
Ernst from Long Island (New York)

I was able to get on the tour at Kalaupapa National Historical Park(where the aging former leprosy - Hansen's Disease patients still live). The reason for all the restrictions is so that they can live out their remaining days in peace and quiet. Access to the peninsula is restricted to 100 people per day. Entry to the general public requires a reservation with the locally owned and operated Damien Tours (808-567-6171). I hiked down ahead of the mules ( also offers tours by reservation only) and had to wait for the riders, so that we could all get on the old school bus tour together. They asked that you not go on the beaches, so although it's a nice setting, there's not much to do while you wait. We got on the bus an hour after I got down there, and I was one of the last hikers to arrive, as I had started later than the others. They say to start hiking between 8-8:10am and the mules follow at 8:40am.

After a 2-minute drive, we made our first stop. It was a small general store where you can buy drinks and snacks and that’s about it. Then back on the bus. Drove 2 minutes and stopped at the Book Store/Visitor Center. Then back on bus. Drove 1 minute and stopped at the Monument and former grave site of Mother Marianne Cope. Guide talked generally about the current residents and buildings around us, and a little about leprosy and the history of the place.  Then back on the bus for a 2-minute ride to St Francis Church. We were told that we were not allowed to go to the Post Office or the General Store here, as per the wishes of the residents (Hansen’s Disease patients who still live here – ages from mid 70’s to 90.) We did not meet or see any of them. The pastor gave a talk in the church, but I remained outside. Back on bus and we drove to the other side of the peninsula (Kalawao Settlement) where we would have lunch with an awesome view of the cliffs and coastline. This was the original site of the leper colony.  “The $50 viewpoint.”  Best view on the tour/hike. Lunch is scheduled for 12:45pm. We were given 15 minutes as it was about 12:53pm. After lunch we stopped at Saint Philomena Catholic Church that we had passed on the way to the lunch spot. The scene with the church and cemetery has palm trees and cliffs in background.  Nice. Then we drove back to the trail head and started our hike out at 2pm. I was up in 1 hour and 20 minutes, but it was a good pace.  I beat the mules up, but they arrived just a minute or so later!

The entire day is taken up by this activity, because you can’t just hike down and back up.  There are signs posted about a $500 fine if you don’t have the permission to go down.  You must book a tour with Damien Tours. There doesn’t seem to be any legal way around it.  There are more expensive options to ride a mule both ways, or fly in, or do a combination hike in/fly out. The best view of the cliffs and coastline can only be reached on the bus tour...

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kalaupapa National Historical Park (attraction)
  2. St Francis Church (attraction)
  3. Saint Philomena Catholic Church (attraction)

answered first by
Juliana from Las Vegas

Hi Ernst! I don't have too much info on this but I do know that you have to be on a tour in order to hike Molokai. Good luck getting on one!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Molokai (island)
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