1. Kalaupapa Leper Colony – Molokai, Hawaii
Although the competition for most beautifully situated mass grave might not be very “stiff,” (ok we’ll stop) Kalaupapa is an unquestioned winner. Located on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, it was also home to the Hawaiian Island’s Leper Colony, established in 1866. Also known as Hansen’s Disease, leprosy causes the upper layers of its victim’s skin to become numb, causes lesions, and makes appendages (especially fingers and toes) much more likely to become diseased… and fall off.
Although it is easily treated today with antibiotics, leprosy plagued the human population for over 4,000 years and leper colonies have existed to quarantine the infected for almost as long.
The Kalaupapa Leper Colony was located on the beach, with 1,600-foot cliffs on one side and ocean on the other creating a natural quarantine. This was the final resting place for thousands, mostly in unmarked graves along the water.
The view from the cemetery ain’t half bad, and surprisingly neither was the lepers’ day-to-day life. After visiting the colony, Jack London wrote that he had, “a disgracefully good time along with eight hundred of the lepers who were likewise having a good time.” Hey, sounds good enough to us.
Currently the colony has very strict rules regarding visitors. There is still a small community of former patients living there. To visit you must be invited by a current resident or take a scheduled tour.