No leis, just old-style Hawaii

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of May 22-29, 1996
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No leis, just old-style Hawaii
Question: My girlfriend won't settle for anything but Hawaii for our trip next year, and I don't want to go to a place that's overwhelmed with tourists. So I was wondering if there is a place that is similar to Hawaii, but quieter and maybe even cheaper. If you could suggest more than one Hawaii alternative, that would be great. Thank you!

Burnaby, B.C., Canada
[email protected]

Getting off the beaten path in Hawaii
Adventure Adviser: Trust me on this one: Hawaii is the place for you--unless, of course, you don't mind schlepping yourself across thousands of miles to some dot of land in the Caribbean. But, seriously, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path, old-style Hawaii inns that are far from the madding crowds of coconut oil-slathered, lei-laden tourists.

If you're really intent on getting away from the masses, you can't do much better than Molokai, the least-visited patch of dry land in the island chain and, not surprisingly, a good example of unspoiled Hawaii at its best. What the island lacks (thankfully) in malls, fast-food restaurants, and stoplights, it more than makes up for in its low-key atmosphere, 4,000-foot sea cliffs, and 53,000-acre Molokai Ranch on the western end.

Use the ranch as a base for non-beach-related activities, like a five-hour horseback ride through the rolling dry hills and pastures ($95 per person) or a 1,000-foot descent by mountain bike on one of its several trails. The Outfitter Center (800-254-8871) rents bikes for $25 per day, plus a $25 trail access fee, and also arranges fishing, kayaking, diving, sailing, and snorkeling trips. Stay at the decidedly unpretentious Kaluakoi Resort, where its hotel-style rooms, villas, and condominiums will cost you anywhere from $50 to $195 double occupancy per night. Call 800-225-7978 for more details. Fun Hogs, a kayak and snorkeling outfitter, operates out of the resort and offers half-day tours for $40 per person; if you want to go solo, rent one of their mountain bikes or kayaks for $25 or $40-$55 a day, respectively.

Just how laid-back is Molokai? Well, I hope you're not looking for nightlife, since the whole island shuts down around sunset, except on Saturday nights, when local bands stir things up at the Pau Hana Inn's bar.

If this sounds a little too sleepy for your tastes, consider Hana, a tiny, remote town on Maui's rugged eastern tip. The steady stream of rental cars en route from Kahului to the Seven Sleepy Pools, about an hour further on, give the town a not-quite-at-the-end-of-the-earth feel. But don't worry, most unknowing tourists simply pass right through without stopping. Try one of Hana Plantation House's six accommodations--villas, houses, and studios in and around Hana (units, $80-$185; 800-657-7723). Fronting a deep bay, Hana offers plenty in the way of water-based activities. If you surf, head for Waikoloa Beach, at the northern end, where waves can top six feet. Chain Rock, near the pier, is the spot for stellar snorkeling, and Red Sand Beach, a beautiful cove south of Kauai Head, is optimal for lazing around in a lawn chair like a sun rat.

Above town, there's first-rate horseback riding at 4,500-acre Hana Ranch, where a two-hour group ride up the eastern slope of Haleakala Crater will set you back $50 (808-248-8211). For other don't-miss, low-key Hawaii locales, check out "True Hawaii" in the Destinations section of our March 1995 issue and the Hawaii write-up in our Winter 1995-1996 Travel Guide.

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