By Hawai’i Health Travel Staff // Images Courtesy Hawai’i Tourism Authority
Nestled between O’ahu and Maui, the sparsely populated island of Moloka’i is an acclaimed hikers paradise.
Especially below the towering Kalaupapa Cliffs, the highest sea cliffs in the world at 3,315 feet (1,010 meters).
Not for the faint of heart, the Kalaupapa Cliffs are a place of inspiration for recovery of mind and body—particularly the village below them, a patient run colony of Native Hawaiians living with cured Hansen’s Disease, or Leprosy.
Established in 1866, this seldom remembered colony is today visited for its stories of courage and struggle with health and the enduring legacy of the Belgian priest who tended to lepers in the 19th century, Father Damien. The people here are mainly senior citizen Native Hawaiians with cured Hansen’s Disease keeping to themselves. Tours must be booked to visit out of respect and privacy (See below for booking details).
The neighboring Kalaupapa National Historic Park today is visited for world-class hikes. It was closed last year due to a landslide but it scheduled to re-open in 2020 following repairs.
Even if one can’t make it to Kalaupapa via hike, mule or small-airplane, Molokai’s rugged landscape includes low level hikes and ample beaches for stretching one’s legs and getting the cardiovascular health pumping.
Moloka‘i, which stretches for 38-miles from East to West and is 10-miles wide, in fact has dozens of intimate beaches with few people—beware their tides and nuances as some can be dangerous to swim off and you should always consult with locals about ocean currents during the year.
For example, our friends at Visit Molokai offer great insight into the beaches of Moloka’i and advice for hiking around them.
They also list local places of worship for those seeking healing and inspiration with a higher power.
For hip health strength or recovery regimes (consult your doctor if this is right for you), we like the annual Ka Hula Piko Hula Festival typically held every June in Moloak’i. After all, Hula dances are said to have began in the Ka’ana district. Every year the Ka Hula Piko Hula Festival honors the “Celebration of the Birth of the Hula” with history and story and dances.
Hula at its sacred starting source is a great match to keep one’s hips swaying after hikes for orthopedic strengthening, preventive cardiovascular health, and psychological and spiritual well-being. Just make sure to check with your doctor for a full Moloka‘i hiking prescription.
Fly to Moloka‘i:
For visitor information and permits to tour explore Kalaupapa for hiking and the Leper Colony Tour:
For Hula Health on Moloka‘i:
For General Information: