From everything I’d read, the Kalaupapa Leper Colony was the main thing to be certain to see on Moloka’i. For the better part of several decades, lepers from all the Hawaiian islands were sent here to live out their lives. There are actually still a few “cured” survivors living there. You can only enter the colony with a permit from the Hawaii department of health, which you can only get by booking a sanctioned tour.
The tours operate in conjunction with the two forms of transport to get to the colony: either you can ride a mule a couple of hours down the sides of the sheer cliffs through several switchbacks, or take a short 10 minute flight. We opted for the flight, partially because I wanted to take the shortest flight I’d ever taken, and partially because I was in no mood to ride a mule down the side of a cliff!
While we were waiting to board the Makani Kai agent told us there were some gifts being transported down to the colony for Valentines Day, and would we mind carrying them? I was given two large vases of flowers, while Matt got…a puppy! NO FAIR!
When boarding was called, our pilot Britney came to grab the passengers herself. She roughly allocated us to the seats on the plane (four rows of 1 by 1 seating) and we would be full on the “ride down” to Kalaupapa….and thus someone got the copilot seat! I might have done a little begging, but in the end I got it 🙂 To top it off, Britney relieved me of the flowers, so I would have a flower-free ride.
Makani Kai Airlines
Moloka’i (Topside) Hawaii (MKK) to Kalaupapa, Hawaii (LUP)
Depart 9:20, Arrive 9:35, Flight Time 15 minutes
Piper PA-31 Chieftan, Registration N135PB, Manufactured ???, Seat: CoPilot
To said I was a little bit excited…well, that’s an understatement. I finally managed to climb all 6’3 of myself into the seat, along with the small laptop bag I was carrying. There was absolutely not an inch of spare room! While we waited for the pilot, I sat anxiously!
Matt was a BIT excited to be carrying the puppy! Oh, so THAT is what happened to the flowers I had to carry to the plane – the pilot stuck another passenger with them, lolz:
I was even more excited, I think, to be in the copilot seat:
Short taxi, and we were off!
After maybe a minute in the air we were over the edge of the island, and headed down: