Lonely Planet Writer

Former disease colony to extend public access

Kalaupapa National Park, Hawaii.
Kalaupapa National Park, Hawaii. Image by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner / CC BY-SA 2.0

Access to Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Hawaii is limited to 100 adults per day, but this could soon change. In the 19th century, an outbreak of Hansen’s disease (also called leprosy) gripped the Hawaiian Islands, and King Kamehameha V banished those afflicted to an isolated peninsula on Molokai. Though the forced exile was lifted in 1969, many patients chose to stay, and the area was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1976. For years after the National Park Service has restricted access to the former colony in an effort to respect the area’s remaining patients, now considered residents. But in a recent proposal the park announced a plan to open access once the last residents, whose ages range from 73 to 92, pass away. The proposed changes would allow children to enter the park and would raise the 100-people-per-day limit, though access would remain limited to preserve the park. Read more: nytimes.com