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Historic Hawaii
Island of Molokai


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SITES: SACRED & HISTORICAL
(See also Museums / Galleries )

VISITING A HEIAU

You are invited to visit the traditional Hawaiian religious sites listed in this website. However, you are asked to remember that these are religious sites which are still sacred to the Hawaiian people. As historic sites, these places are also fragile and subject to damage and collapse. Please visit with respect and care for these important places.

  • View the heiau from the exterior. Please do not climb on or over the rock walls. The stacked roof is unstable and may collapse.
  • It is unlawful to take, excavate, destroy, or alter any historic site on state land. Any person who violates this law is subject to a fine of $10,000 (HRS Chapter 6E-11)
  • Wrapping a rock in a ti leaf is not a traditional offering. This damages the plants and the integrity of the heiau structure.
  • Offerings of coins, candles, incense and similar items cause long-term damage.

The historic sites of Hawaii are unique resources that are fragile and cannot be replaced. Please help us protect Hawaii's past for the future.

HALAWA VALLEY
Located about 27 miles from Kaunakakai, at the end of the road (Highway 450) at the northeast tip of the island.
(East Molokai)
A lush valley that once supported a large population that grew taro in the numerous wetland fields fed by the valley's streams. Many are now being restored. The locale of ancient heiaus, two plunging waterfalls, and a beach park where the valley meets the sea.

ILIILIOPAE HEIAU
Located16 miles east of Kaunakakai on Hwy. 450
(East Molokai)
On the National Register of Historic Places, the Iliiliopae Heiau is the second largest heiau (Hawaiian temple) in Hawaii, after Piilanihale on Maui. The heiau is 320 feet long and 120 feet wide and was a site of human sacrifice. It is a well-preserved example of Hawaii's ancient outdoor shrines - a learning center where kahuna (Hawaiian priests) from other islands were tutored. The heiau is on private land and may be visited with permission.

KAIAKA ROCK
(West Molokai)
This rocky headland immediately south of the Kaluakoi Hotel was once the location of a heiau where kahuna (Hawaiian priests) studied navigation. Later, the pineapple companies had a cable landing here, the cement foundations of which are still visible. An ancient village around the slopes has been largely lost due to the golf course. Great place for watching sunsets.

KALAUPAPA NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
P. O. Box 2222
Kalaupapa, HI 96742
(Central Molokai, North Shore)
Tel. (808) 567-6802
The park contains the Kalaupapa Peninsula, site of the historic Hansen's Disease (leprosy) settlements of Kalaupapa and Kalawao, adjacent cliffs and valleys, and submerged lands and waters out to 1/4 mile from shore. Spectacular north shore sea cliffs, narrow valleys, a volcanic crater, rain forest, lava tubes and caves, and off-shore islands and waters are in the park. Several of these areas provide rare native habitat for threatened or endangered Hawaiian plants and animals. There are 8,725 acres of land and 2,000 acres of water within the park's authorized boundary. Hawaiian people inhabited the peninsula and valleys for hundreds of years prior to the establishment of the first isolation settlement at Kalawao in 1866. Evidence of this occupation is relatively undisturbed and represents one of the richest archaeological preserves in Hawaii. Listed below are other sites of interest in the park and park access requirements. For more information, please visit the park's Web site.

  • The Molokai Lighthouse, the tallest U.S. lighthouse in the Pacific Ocean, stands on the northern tip of the peninsula. Built in 1909, its 138-foot concrete tower remains unchanged since its construction and is one of the few original lighthouse structures still in use in Hawaii.
  • The Park Visitor Center has interpretive materials and artifact display cases. Wayside exhibits on the peninsula's people, history and archaeology are located throughout the park.
  • The two churches: Siloama, established in 1866, and Saint Philomena associated with the work of Father Damien (Joseph De Veuster). Both are located in Kalawao on the windward side of the peninsula.
  • The Puu Uao Lookout which offers a view of the Kauhako Crater claimed by limnologists to be one of the most peculiar lakes in the world. The surface of the lake is very near sea level and the bottom is over 800 feet deep - the fourth deepest lake in the United States. Its deep columnar tube, layered with fresh, brackish, and salt water, is home to two species of native shrimp.
Access (Restricted):
NOTE: Not only is access to the peninsula limited, but access to the resources on the peninsula is limited. Visitors on the tour learn mostly about the history of Hansen's disease in Hawaii and its famous caregivers, especially Father Damien. There is little opportunity to view, or to learn much about many of the other resources.
  • There are three types of visitation at the park: those who view the peninsula from the overlook at Palaau State Park, visitors who tour historic Kalaupapa and Kalawao through a commercial tour, and guests of residents.
  • There is no vehicular access to the Kalaupapa Peninsula. It is surrounded on 3 sides by ocean and on a 4th side by a steep cliff (pali).
  • There is a trail from topside Molokai down the cliffs but the trail has a 1,700 feet elevation, is 3 miles long and has 26 switchbacks resulting in a steep climb back! Most accidents that occur are slips and falls while hiking down the trail. During the wet season (usually in winter), the trail can be very wet and slippery. The trail is accessed off Hwy. 470 near Palaau State Park and the Kalaupapa overlook.
  • The park can be reached by air through commercial and charter flights from Honolulu, Oahu, from Maui, and from Hoolehua, Molokai. Some visitors arrive by private boats. Others hike the steep Kalaupapa trail or arrange for a mule ride tour through the Park Concessionaire Molokai Mule Rides, Inc. Damien Tours, owned and operated by a Kalaupapa resident, offers the commercial tour of Kalaupapa.
  • The administration of the Hansen's disease settlement and control of public access into the area are still under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Health. All visitors to the park must receive a permit from the Department of Health to enter the Kalaupapa settlement. The commercial tour company arranges the permit for their customers. Guests of residents have their permits arranged by their sponsor.
  • No children under age 16 are allowed on Kalaupapa.
KALUAAHA CHURCH
Located at Kaluaaha on Highway 450.
(East Molokai)
The first Christian church on Molokai completed in 1844 by the Protestant missionaries. Much of the church still stands, looking like a fortress with its tiny slit windows and three-foot thick plastered walls and buttresses.

KAULEONANAHOA
Located at the end of Hwy. 470 in Palaau State Park
(Central Molokai)
A huge phallic rock that protrudes from the ground amid an ironwood stand. Phallic or fertility rocks are found on all the Hawaiian islands, but this is the finest example. The rock's present form is a natural configuration which has been carved to some extent.
Legend of the rock:

Many years ago the man Nanaloa and his wife Kawahuna lived on this green hill of Puu Lua. One day a beautiful young girl appeared and began to admire herself in a pool of water. Nanaloa watched admiringly and the girl returned a smile to his reflection in the pool. Growing jealous, the wife grabbed the young girl by the hair. Nanaloa hit his wife in quick-tempered anger and sent her tumbling down a nearby cliff where she turned to stone. Nanaloa also turned to stone, but his power remains in this male rock. It is said if a woman goes to Kauleonanahoa with offerings and spends the night, she will return home pregnant.

LUA NA MOKU ILIAHI (SANDALWOOD MEASURING PIT)
Located adjacent to the unsurfaced Maunahui Forest Reserve access road to the Molokai Forest Reserve - approximately 9 miles from Hwy. 460 within the Molokai Forest Reserve. Four-wheel drive required.
(Central Molokai)
A 75-foot long boat-shaped pit from the reign of Kamehameha the Great in the early 1800's when the sandalwood trade was flourishing. A boat of foreign goods was bought by exchanging the amount of sandalwood that would fill the pit. A reminder of the days of mindless exploitation.

MALAMA PARK
Located in Kaunakakai - on the shoreline to the right of Kaunakakai wharf.
(Central Molokai)
The remains of a vacation home that belonged to King Kamehameha V. The King loved to visit Molokai, and introduced axis deer to feed the Hawaiian people. Today, the only visible evidence of the royal residence is a raised stone platform that was part of Malama's foundation. The platform may have been a heiau (Hawaiian temple).

MOLOKAI MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTER
P. O. Box 269
Kualapuu, HI 96757
(Central Molokai)
Tel. (808) 567-6436
Located on Hwy. 470 at Mile Marker 4 (approx. 2 miles past Kualapuu in Kalae Village - near Kalaupapa Overlook) The site of the restored 1878 R. W. Meyer Sugar Mill with its mule-driven cane crusher and operational steam engine. The cultural center has changing displays and artifacts. Tours (nominal fee). Rudolph W. Meyer, a German sugar planter and rancher who came to Molokai in 1848, lived at Kalae and served as the Kalawao isolation settlement supervisor from 1866 until his death in 1897. The sugar mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

MOOMOMI PRESERVE
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY OF HAWAII

(West Molokai)
At first glance, the dunes of Moomomi appear nearly barren. However, in addition to the rare coastal species that grow at Moomomi, there are numerous Hawaiian archaeological sites around Moomomi Bay. The Nature Conservancy literature states:
  • The Moomomi Preserve (921 acres) is a last stronghold of a major Hawaiian coastal ecosystem, a holdover from an ancient era. The ancient Hawaiians lived seasonally at Moomomi as early as the 11th century and spent the summer months at Moomomi catching and drying fish to see them through winters too rough for fishing. Basalt chips still remain along the beaches, evidence of adze tool making from a nearby outcrop of exceptionally dense basalt. Today, local residents still rely on the area for gathering fish, seaweed, sea salt, and other resources.
  • Nature Conservancy staff and volunteers lead a monthly hike through this beach dune preserve. Hike leaders will pick you up at the Molokai airport at 8:30 am, serve as interpretive guides throughout the hike, and return you to the airport by 3:30 pm. Advance reservations and a deposit are required. Space is limited. Please call the Molokai office for more information at 808-553-5236 or visit their Web site.

OUR LADY OF SORROWS CHURCH
Located at Kaluaaha on Highway 450.
(East Molokai)
A reconstruction of a church built by Father Damien in 1874. The church is located on the exact same spot as the original and utilizes some of the original corner stones placed by Father Damien. Contains beautiful pen and ink drawings of the Stations of the Cross imported from Holland.

SAINT JOSEPH CHURCH
Located east from Kaunakakai on Hwy. 450 at Kamalo - near Mile Marker 10
(East Molokai)
Built in 1876 by Father Damien - outside is a black metal sculpture of Damien, the saintly Belgian priest. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

SILOAMA CHURCH
Located at Kalawao on the windward side of Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
(Central Molokai)
The first church established for persons with Hansen's Disease (leprosy) on Kalaupapa - the Protestant "Church of the Healing Spring" (1866). The present church, third on the site, was most recently renovated in 1966.

SMITH & BRONTE LANDING
Located 12 miles east of Kaunakakai on Hwy. 450
(East Molokai)
A plaque marks the spot where two pioneer aviators on the first commercial Trans-Pacific flight made an emergency landing in 1927.

ST. PHILOMENA'S CHURCH
Located at Kalawao on the windward side of Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
(Central Molokai)
Assembled in Honolulu in 1872 and transported to Kalaupapa before Father Damien's arrival. Father Damien expanded the church and it is often referred to as "Father Damien's Church". It is said that the revered priest installed cup-like spittoons in the floor so that Hansen's Disease patients with congested lungs could attend services indoors.

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