Dream Destinations for History Buffs

The Kalaupapa Peninsula (Hawaii) and Crete (Greece)
Kalaupapa Peninsula, Molokai, Hawaii
HISTORIC SWEEP: Molokai's Kalaupapa Peninsula, Hawaii (courtesy, Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau)

The Kalaupapa Peninsula (Hawaii)
At one time for many people, this heavenly place was hell. The first tragedy to occur on the remote five-square-mile peninsula jutting from the north shore of Hawaii's Molokai happened between 1865 and 1895. In those years, the indigenous people were forcibly removed, and in their place, beginning in 1866 and for more than a century, lived sick people—forced into isolation by the authorities. The spread of Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy, had terrified Hawaiian officials who, in their panic, resorted to this most cruel solution. Ah, but there is a hero to this saga: Father Damien, a Catholic priest from Belgium, who arrived at the leper colony in 1873 to offer the inmate patients what physical and religious comfort he could. He contracted the disease himself and died in 1889; the church he led here, St. Philomena, can be visited today. But there are only three ways to access the Kalaupapa Peninsula—by mule, by foot or by small plane. The Molokai Mule Ride is the most popular and, certainly, the most appropriately exotic. As you travel slowly down 1,786 feet of one of the highest sea cliffs in the world on a three-mile trail with 26 switchbacks, you have ample time to be awed by the natural beauty surrounding you, and to contemplate, in perhaps a spiritual way, the sadness that was once pervasive in this heaven on earth.
Click here to read GORP.com's guide to Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Crete (Greece)
Much of what we in the Western world think and feel today began here. In the centuries circa 2000 to 1450 b.c., Crete was the center of the Minoan culture, which was the oldest form of Greek—and therefore European—civilization. A mountainous island in the eastern Mediterranean with fertile plateaus, Crete provided the Minoans with a suitable setting to grow their sophisticated society. The finest palaces in the world rose here, and the finest frescoes were produced. Many relics of that ancient age are on display at the Minoan archaeological sites of Knossos and Phaistos. Crete was ruled, subsequently, by the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottoman Turks before becoming part of the modern Greek state, and elsewhere on the large island are excavated sites and buildings from these later periods. Beyond being fascinating for its history, Crete, with its scenic beauty and temperate climate, is altogether delightful.
Click here to read Away.com's Crete Travel Guide

Published: 14 May 2008 | Last Updated: 14 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »