Land access to Kalaupapa, the isolated peninsula Molokai, is closed. That as a result of the most recent landslide in December 2018 that removed the pedestrian and equine access to the trail.
The path is to remain closed indefinitely while the National Park Service works on its repair. Estimates from NPS was to expect the trail to reopen by early 2020.
If you still want to visit Kalaupapa, which we highly recommend, you can fly there with one of the permitted companies. Those 16 and under are prohibited.
Two tour companies operate in Kalaupapa today. Those are Kekaula Tours (day including flight are $249 from Molokai and $349 from Oahu and Maui.
Prior Damien Tours who we visited with has gone out of business and has been replaced by Saints Damien and Marianne Cope Molokai Tours, which started earlier this year.
Mele Watanuki co-owns the company with John McBride, who also acts as the group tour guide and bus driver, and Paul Meyer, the former president of R.W. Meyer, Ltd. Topside to Kalaupapa tour prices are $329 for individuals and $310 for group bookings, which includes the flight, tour, transportation and lunch. For more information call 808-895-1673 or email email@example.com.
Kalaupapa historian Pat Boland with resident-patient Meli Watanuki. (HCH photo | Anna Weaver)
Several times a year, Bishop Larry Silva leads a Kalaupapa pilgrimage trip arranged by Seawind Tours and operated by Saints Damien and Marianne Cope Molokai Tours. There are two pilgrimages remaining in 2019, on Aug. 10 and Oct. 27, both costing $399 per person including flights, transportation, a guided tour led by the bishop and lunch. Read more about the March 2019 pilgrimage experience below.
Sacred Hearts Father Patrick Killilea, pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, also takes small groups of 6 or less around from time to time but not as part of an official tour company.
Make sure to check with your tour hosts about whether meals are provided during your Kalaupapa trip. Those with food allergies should bring in their own food. Tours without food provided mean you’ll need to bring in your own sustenance as there are no public restaurants or stores on the peninsula. You might also want to pack a snack and bring a reusable water bottle either way. The one small grocery store on the peninsula is for residents only.
Mokulele Air was picked in March 2018 as the designated airline to provide essential air service to Kalaupapa. It operates regular daily flights to and from the peninsula with the average roundtrip cost of a flight from Oahu at around $120. Call 808-495-4188 for more details and current pricing or visit mokuleleairlines.com.
Got a small group that wants to go to Kalaupapa? The following charter flight companies offer private flights for between 4 to 9 people per plane to and from Kalaupapa. Some of them have flights with a stopover in Kaunakakai on topside Molokai before heading down to the peninsula. After Mokulele Airlines, Makani Kai operates the most regular flights to Kalaupapa. Call for pricing and details.
Makani Kai Air: 808-834-1111
George’s Aviation Services: 808-834-2120
Pacific Air Charters: 808-839-3559
Royal Pacific Air Charter: 808-838-7788
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The land route to Kalaupapa remains closed on Molokai. This means that hikers and mule riders no longer have access to where Saint Damien lived and worked. Heavy rains in April created a mudslide and damaged a foot bridge. Repair work is expected to begin in October and will take 4-5 weeks to complete.
If you want to include Kalaupapa on your Hawaii itinerary this fall, you have two fly-in options available.
The least expensive is from topside Molokai where $249 buys a round-trip, tour and permit. Lunch is not provided so bring your own food.
You can also fly from Honolulu to Kalaupapa for $389 round-trip. Included with the ground tour and permit is a courtesy transfer from your Waikiki hotel and lunch.
Snack Bar and Bookstore Remain Open at Kalaupapa.
Bring small bills if you’d like to buy anything at the settlement since credit cards are not accepted. On our visit in October we purchased a t-shirt and hat.
How to Book: Call Makani Kai Air Charters at 1-877-255-8532 or 808-834-5813 from Oahu.
Tell them you’re interested in the Mule Ride Special and coupon code 1209-M.U.L.E. Visa, Mastercard and American Express is accepted. Be prepared to give weight of each passenger, cell phone number, the hotel you’re staying at the night before, the desired tour date and one alternate.
What to do if you’re planning a trip to Molokai after November.
Read trail updates on Molokai Mule Rides. The trail will open to hikers first. It will take longer before the mule rides are back since they’ll need retraining on the trail and conditioning.