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The Most Hawaiian Island

By Linda Tancs

Moloka’i is often referred to as the most Hawaiian island. That’s probably because native cultural practices and traditions remain pretty much intact with but one hotel and few restaurants to distract tourists from its Polynesian splendor. Even the national park, Kalaupapa, is restricted. State law requires all individuals to secure a permit prior to entering. The park is a place of remembrance for a community in isolation. When Hansen’s disease (leprosy) was introduced to the Hawaiian islands, King Kamehameha V banished all afflicted to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on the north shore of Moloka’i. Intrepid visitors seek out the three-mile mule trek, descending down a dizzying mountain to the former leper colony.

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