HAWAII OFF THE BROCHURE-BEATEN PATH
From a tropical treehouse to a funky little beach cottage, six hostelries in paradise that your travel agent never heard of
|Tranquil Kee Lagoon at Haena State Park, Kauai
MAUI SILVER CLOUD UPCOUNTRY GUEST RANCH, ULUPALAKUA
The Draw: It's the view, baby. This rambling turn-of-the-century ranch house occupies the untrammeled slopes of 10,023-foot Haleakala volcano, 3,000 feet above the overwrought resorts of Wailea. From your lanai you can see the ocean on both sides of Maui as well as Kahoolawe, Molokai, Lanai, and the West Maui Mountains across
the isthmus. There are six rooms in the ranch house and five studios with kitchenettes in the bunkhouse, all with bath. Best bet is the secluded Lanai Cottage, a freestanding one-bedroom furnished in retro-rural style—wooden beds, velvet chairs and love seats—with a wraparound balcony. The ranch's only drawback is isolation (which isn't
necessarily a drawback): You're 35 minutes from the beach and at least a half hour from a town.
The Action: The Thompson family runs relaxed horseback rides through their pastures just below the Silver Cloud, and mule skinner Craig Moore will take you into Haleakala crater atop his surefooted pack animals. The crater also provides distinctive hiking through red-rock wasteland and rolling grassland; try the 11.3-mile
Sliding Sands–Halemauu Trail that descends 3,000 feet to the crater floor. About an hour away is two-acre Polipoli State Park and the surrounding 4,865-acre Kula Forest Reserve, where mountain bikers can ride more than a dozen miles of jeep roads and singletrack trails through towering groves of California redwoods and eucalyptus trees.
The Details: Doubles, $85–$188; cottage, $150–$195; breakfast included; 800-532-1111; www.silvercloudranch.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thompson Ranch Riding Stables, 808-878-1910.
Craig Moore's Maui Mule Ride, 808-878-1743.
MAMA'S BEACHFRONT COTTAGES, PAIA
The Draw: A peaceful North Shore beachfront hideaway amid the hippy-dippy chaos of the world's windsurfing capital, where European wind freaks and lost flower children rule. These three simple but comfy two-unit cottages are heavy on the resort-style rattan and may be a tiny bit too flowery decor-wise, but they are clean and
quiet. The location is a big plus—in Kuau Cove, five minutes east of the bustle of Paia in a grove of towering coconut palms on an isolated beach. On the downside, Maui's North Shore beaches are often too rough and reefy for swimming, and you may tire of dreads and Rasta hats.
The Action: Windsurfing, obviously. Beginners can dunk their sails at Kanaha Beach Park. Experts can pull front-aerials at Sprecks and Hookipa Beach Park, the premier playground for wind jockeys. On slack days, head for Hookipa's western end, which offers a few surf breaks as well. Deep-sea fishing and snorkel and dive boats
are 35 minutes away in Maalaea Harbor. Landlubbers can hike to an ocean-view picnic spot a few thousand feet up along the three-mile (one way) Waihee Ridge Trail, just north of the town of Wailuku. For good eats, try Mama's Fish House adjacent to the cottages; guests get a 20 percent discount.
The Details: Oceanfront two-bedroom cottages, $225; one-bedroom garden view cottages, $135; all units have a kitchen, grill, TV, and VCR; three-night minimum; 800-860-4852; www.mamasfishhouse.com.
THE BIG ISLAND
WAIPIO TREEHOUSE, WAIPIO VALLEY
The Draw: Picture yourself in a lush valley where streams flow through taro patches beneath 1,600-foot cliffs splashed with misty waterfalls. Known as a haven for pakalolo growers, Waipio used to be a stronghold of King Kamehameha the Great. Owner Linda Beech has carved out a niche here with a
small Swiss Family Robinson–style hostelry of three screened bungalows, two on the ground and one mounted 30 feet above the valley floor in a monkeypod tree. The bungalows are furnished with loft beds and gas stoves, and power comes from a waterfall-driven generator.
The Action: While much of the valley is off-limits—heed any barbed wire and "No Trespassing" signs—it still offers plenty to keep hikers busy. A private dirt road winds into the valley, past mountain apple groves and across streams lined with watering holes. The signature hike in Waipio, however, is Hiilawe
Falls, an awesome spray that tumbles more than 1,000 feet into a surreal aqua-green pool that fills a hollowed volcanic bowl. Experienced surfers and bodyboarders can brave the waves at the shifty breaks off the black-sand beach; conditions are best before 10 a.m. You can fashion custom camping trips on horseback in the valley with Waipio Na'alapa Stables.
As for provisions, pack everything—the nearest reasonably sized grocery store is in Honokaa, a good 40-minute drive from Waipio Treehouse.
The Details: Doubles, $250 for one night, $400 for two nights, and $200 for additional nights, including transportation to and from Kukuihaele (bring your own food); 808-775-7160; www.waipio.com; e-mail: email@example.com. Waipio Na'alapa Stables, 808-775-0419.
MANAGO HOTEL, CAPTAIN COOK
The Draw: A true relic of old Hawaii. This two-building tin-roofed complex off Hawaii 11 (Mamalahoa Highway) is one of the last Japanese family–owned inns left in the Islands. These inns once were havens for traveling salespeople and coffee farmers. Most are long gone, but the Manago, open since 1917 and in the family for
three generations, is bucking the extinction trend. Fairly recent additions include a three-story building housing 42 rooms, all with private baths and ocean-view lanais (but no phones or TVs). The lobby is straight out of the 1950s, complete with a candy counter and funky, well-worn furniture. The hotel restaurant serves a variety of American dishes,
including the best pork chops on the island.
The Action: Head for the reefs. The Manago is mere minutes from Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, a protected area of clear water carpeted with live coral and populated by triggerfish, parrotfish, and double-bar goatfish. At Kealakekua Bay four miles north, take the 1,400-plus-foot descent down an easy 2.5-mile
path to Captain Cook's Monument, where you can spot rays, spinner dolphins, and butterfly fish. You can go diving among volcanic rock formations along the Kona Coast; windsurfing at Anaehoomalu Bay, 30 minutes north; surfing at Banyans, in Kailua; or backcountry trekking and bird-watching on the McCandless Ranch, home to undisturbed ohia- and koa-tree
forests as well as the very last brood of aala, Hawaiian crows. For grinds, tuck in to Oodles of Noodles in Kailua, a funky joint that serves fresh fish and pasta.
The Details: Doubles with shared bath, $28; with private bath, $41–$46; Japanese suite with futon (no bed) and bath, $60; 808-323-2642.
COASTLINE COTTAGES, POIPU
The Draw: Cozy cottages close enough to catch the ocean spray but far removed from the condomania of Poipu proper. These little aqua units with mustard-colored trim have teak floors and bamboo and rattan sleigh beds; they range from an 800-square-foot studio to a three-bedroom beach house, all with kitchens and Jacuzzis.
Minutes away are the South Shore's best surfing and bodysurfing breaks as well as chic boutiques and restaurants catering to the monied masses who have fled to Poipu from overbuilt West Maui.
The Action: Hit the surf. The mellow waves of First Break off the Sheraton Kauai Resort at Poipu Point can go square in a hurry. For boogieboarders and bodysurfers, Brennecke's and Shipwreck are the prime spots to get barreled. Mountain bikers can take a leisurely ride along the cliffs that rim the coastline east of the
Hyatt Regency. The best beach nearby is Mahaulepu, an undeveloped strand that stretches for more than a mile into a shady ironwood grove. Look for the petroglyphs on the reef shelf at low tide. Kayakers can explore the isolated pocket beaches along the South Shore east of Mahaulepu or stroke through the mangroves of the Huleia Stream just south of Lihue.
Best bites are at the Beach House, a Euro-Pacific eatery on the South Shore that serves wok-charred mahimahi to die for.
The Details: Doubles, $225–$285; four-night minimum stay, seventh night free; 808-742-9688; www.hshawaii.com/ kvp/coastline; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HALE MAKAI BEACH COTTAGES, HAENA
The Draw: These four small cottages with bamboo furnishings sit on a serene acre of prime beachfront along Tunnels Beach, a local favorite in quiet Haena, where residents take their surfboards to work, just in case. Snorkeling, swimming, and surfing are straight out your back door. For the best views and beachfront
proximity, reserve cottage number one or number four. All cottages have one bedroom except number four, which accommodates two couples.
The Action: Five minutes up the Kuhio Highway (Hawaii 56) is the fabled Kalalau Trail, the ancient 11-mile path sandwiched between 2,000-foot sea cliffs and smashing surf. A few minutes to the east toward Hanalei town, shortboard rippers exercise their craft at Pine Trees Beach. On the far side of Hanalei Bay, longboarders
dance over mellow springtime rollers. (Just beware of the occasional springtime swell, which can create raging 15-foot surf.) If the surf is calm, Hanalei Bay and Kalihiwai Bay, 15 minutes east, are good kayaking spots with lots of live reefs and clear waters. Bonefishers can cast to their hearts' content on the reef flats off Anini Beach, around the corner
to the west of Kalihiwai Bay. The best snorkeling is right in front of your cottage at Tunnels, where a horseshoe reef draws gray sharks, turtles, morays, and numerous other coral-loving critters.
The Details: Doubles, $145–$195; 800-487-9833; www.hanalei-vacations.com/hmcott.html; e-mail: email@example.com. \
Something New Under the Sun
You'd think that with their limited landmass and constant stream of visitors, the Islands would have long since run out of ideas for keeping guests entertained. Happily, that's not the case. Check out these new ways to explore Paradise.
In remote Hana on Maui's far eastern coast, Maui Cave Adventures now runs tours through the inky blackness of Kaeleku Caverns, billed as the island's largest lava-tube system (two-hour hike, $50 per person; reservations required; 808-248-7308; www.hanacave.com).
If being dragged through the sand while strapped to a surfboard powered by a frighteningly large kite sounds groovy, then kitesurfing is for you. Learn to fly these fickle beasts and get 30-foot airs (well, maybe more like three-foot for novices) in the windblown waters off Kanaha Beach Park near Kahului, Maui. David Dorn and his staff of in-house madmen
at Action Sports Maui teach this slightly psychotic sport (one-hour group lesson, $79 per person; 808-283-7913; www.maui.net/~hotwind/ kite.html).
Maui boys Adam Quinn and Jason Latas specialize in custom-designed excursions that include snorkeling at a remote Lanai beach, sailing on a private yacht, kayaking along Maui's North Shore, and mountain biking on the slopes of Haleakala (Maui Eco-Adventures, 877-661-7720; www.ecomaui.com).
On the Big Island, naturalist Rob Pacheco leads a new mile-long tour through the bowels of dormant (for now) Hualalai Volcano (four-hour hike, $89 per person; reservations required; Hawaii Forest & Trail, 800-464-1993 or 808-331-8505; www.hawaiiforest.com; e-mail: hitrail @aloha.net). Pacheco also offers a new mule trip down a serpentine lava-rock path into remote Pololu Valley along the Kohala Coast (three-hour ride, $95 per person; reservations required).
For an ecoconscious tutorial on everything Kauai, check out The Edge of Kauai, which offers daylong and weeklong educational odysseys covering everything from marine biology and coral formation at Tunnels Reef on the North Shore to beach sedimentation on Polihale and the geology and botany of the massive Waimea Canyon (day trip, $75, including lunch;
weeklong tours from $1,495 per person; 808-742-8305; www.teok.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). — A.S.