Run by the family of a former Kalaupapa resident with Hansen’s disease (aka leprosy), Damien Tours ★★★ ([tel] 808/567-6171) provides the required permit to explore the haunting and inspiring sights of Kalaupapa National Historical Park as part of its guided bus tour. Those able to descend the treacherous sea cliffs by foot, mule, or air are met at 10am (Mon–Sat) for the approximately 4-hour tour, which protects the privacy of the few remaining residents while visiting numerous sites. Stops include the original graves of Father Damien and Mother Marianne ; St. Philomena Church, where the Belgian priest carved holes in the floor so patients could discreetly spit during services; and a small museum with heart-rending photos and artifacts, such as a spoon reshaped for a disfigured hand. Lunch is an oceanside picnic on the cooler Kalawao side of the peninsula. Restricted to ages 16 and older, the tour costs $50, with limited seating. Note: All tours must be booked in advance, which is easier to do through “topside” outfitters. Hikers should contact Molokai Outdoors (www.molokai-outdoors.com; [tel] 877/553-4477). Makani Kai Air (www.makanikaiair.com; [tel] 877/255-8532) packages the tour and lunch with flights on its single-engine planes from Hoolehua ($197 round-trip; $143 hike down and fly out). The Kalaupapa Guided Mule Tour ★★★ (www.muleride.com; [tel] 800/567-7550 or 808/567-6088), an epic experience in and of itself , also includes the Damien tour and lunch in its $199 price.

 

 

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