Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Getty Images

Kalaupapa Overlook

Top choice in Moloka'i

This spot offers a scenic overview of the Kalaupapa Peninsula, formerly an isolation zone for sufferers of Hansen's disease (leprosy), from the edge of a 1600ft cliff. It's easy to get the lay of the land from up here, and you'll get a good feel for just how far you'll travel if you descend the nearby 1664ft-elevation Kalaupapa Trail, the only way into the village by land.

Fascinating interpretive plaques identify significant landmarks below and explain Kalaupapa's sad history.

The village where all of Kalaupapa's residents live is visible, but Kalawao, the original settlement and the site of Father Damien's church and grave, is not. Kalaupapa means 'flat leaf,' an accurate description of the lava-slab peninsula that was created when a low shield volcano poked up out of the sea, long after the rest of Molokaʻi had been formed.

The dormant Kauhako Crater, visible from the overlook, contains a little lake that's more than 800ft deep. At 400ft, the crater is the highest point on the Kalaupapa Peninsula. The best light for photography is usually from late morning to mid-afternoon.

There's a trail of sorts that continues directly beyond the last plaque at the overlook. The path, on a carpet of soft ironwood needles, passes through diagonal rows of trees planted during a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) reforestation project in the 1930s. You can follow this trail for 20 minutes or so until it peters out.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Moloka'i attractions

1. Kauleonanahoa

0.17 MILES

Kauleonanahoa (the penis of Nanahoa) is Hawaii's premier phallic stone, standing proud in a little clearing inside an ironwood grove about a five-minute…

2. Pala‘au State Park

0.91 MILES

Soak in the views over the Kalaupapa Peninsula, listen to winds rustle through groves of ironwood and eucalyptus trees and witness sacred rocks that…

3. Molokaʻi Museum & Cultural Center

1.11 MILES

The RW Meyer Sugar Mill has enjoyed a series of restorations over time. It now houses a museum and cultural center, which has a small but intriguing…

4. Purdy's Macadamia Nut Farm

2.88 MILES

Enthusiastic nut farmer Tuddie Purdy takes you on a free tour of his more-than-80-year-old orchard, explains how the nuts grow without pesticides,…

5. Sandalwood Pit

4.16 MILES

A grassy depression on the left side of the road in Molokaʻi Forest Reserve marks the centuries-old Sandalwood Pit. In the early 19th century, shortly…

6. Waikolu Lookout

5.09 MILES

At 3600ft, Waikolu Lookout provides a breathtaking view into the steep Waikolu Valley and out to the ocean beyond. After rains, the white strands of…

7. Church Row

5.38 MILES

Across from the coconut grove is Church Row. Any denomination that attracts a handful of members receives its own little tract of land. Religion in…

8. Softball Field

5.93 MILES

The local softball field is usually busy. It's off Ainoa St next to the baseball field.