Palaau State Park is located on Molokai Island in Hawaii. This 233 acre tropical oasis is a very popular place to take photos of the traditional Hawaiian landscape. Waterfalls, dense jungle, and ocean vistas are all contained within this single state park. Kalae Highway leads directly to the gates of Palaau State Park, which makes it easy for visitors to find, no matter how unfamiliar they may be with the Hawaiian island. The park is perched 1,600 feet above Makanalua Peninsula and provides a breathtaking view of the area.
One of the most popular day trips in Palaau State Park is the hike to Kalaupapa Lookout. It is a short hike that is easy enough for even the most inexperienced hiker to handle comfortably. Kalaupapa is a small piece of land off the Molokai coast where ancient Hawaiians would send people who had contracted leprosy. Plaques have been placed along the trail to inform visitors of the history of the area, with particular attention paid to the Leper Colony that used to be housed at Kalaupapa. The cliffs at the end of the trail are 1700 feet above sea level, making them some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world.
Another popular Palaau State Park destination is Phallic Rock. In ancient times, every Hawaiian island had its own phallic rock which embodied the spirit of the fertility god Nanahoa. The Phallic Rock at Palaau State Park is a beautiful example of the culture of the native island people. Island women who were barren would bring offerings to the rock in the hopes of becoming more fertile. People still bring offerings to the god, which must not be disturbed by visitors. The phallic rock is still considered a sacred place by many Hawaiians.
The camping facilities at Palaau State Park are designed for visitors who expect to rough it a little. There are no shower facilities in the park. There is also no public drinking water available for campers. The camp grounds are open 24 hours to accommodate overnight camping in motorized campers or traditional tents. Palaau State Park does provide restrooms for visitors. You must obtain a permit before you can camp overnight at the park. It is free to camp, although a donation would be gladly accepted to help facilitate the maintenance of the property.
Local residents like to visit Palaau State Park for afternoon picnics in the majestic ironwood forests. The ironwood trees tower over picnic shelters that come complete with built in grills where groups can create their own meals and enjoy them among the beautiful scenery. Complete picnic facilities are available for visitors who are camping on the grounds or visitors who only expect to be there for a few hours. Grills use regular charcoal and should be thoroughly cleaned out after each use. The covered picnic shelters are also nice places to wait out occasional tropical rainfall, which can begin quickly and tends to end just as quickly.
Molokai Mule Ride
This three mile long trail ride has 26 switchbacks along the way. Visitors will find it right inside the gates of the Palaau State Park. The ride begins at Palaau and ends at the Kalalupapa National Park, 1,600 feet below. The mules that are used are the same type of mules that used to travel up and down the steep track daily to deliver news and supplies to the settlement below. The ride takes about 7 hours to complete, and includes lunch at Kalalupapa. Riders must be 16 years old and weigh less than 250 pounds.
The weather at Palaau State Park can vary widely from humid heat during the day to chilling overnight. Visitors should pack a wide range of clothing to deal with the weather shifts. Lighter clothes will be comfortable while the sun is shining, but more substantial clothing will be necessary for the evenings and late nights. The elevation of Palaau State Park means that the weather is generally cooler than in other parts of the island. A light jacket is recommended if you plan to stay for more than a few hours and especially if you visit in the evening.