Hawaiian Alternative Accommodations
Former laborers’ homes at Waimea Plantation Cottages offer picturesque guest accommodation and a glimpse of Kauai’s colorful sugar industry history. Waimea Plantation Cottages
Researched by Travel with a Challenge editor, Alison Gardner
It would have been highly contradictory of me to be on the road each day researching unusual Hawaiian holidays while spending nights in mainstream resort-style hotels that could have popped up on any sandy beach or next to any palm tree in the world. Large or small, historic or modern, accommodation listings below are out of the ordinary, each with a signature personality! Included, you will find recommendations for several vacation rentals, an option that is particularly worthy of consideration if traveling with children or with a small group of adult friends or family members.
I share here a sampling of my personal discoveries, while encouraging readers to visit the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii website, sustainabletourismhawaii.org, for additional alternative accommodation options. I have not sampled accommodations presented in the white boxes.
To go straight to accommodation descriptions for each island, click on Oahu, Big Island [Hawaii], Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and Lanai. A special welcome to Molokai and Lanai accommodation listings, which are appearing for the first time.
Manoa Valley Inn’s sunroom overlooks the garden and the city. Alison Gardner
Built in 1919, the Manoa Valley Inn is in a quiet residential district near the university, just a few minutes drive from Waikiki and the core attractions of Honolulu. No surprise that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Owner and personal host, Theresa Wery, has restored an historic gem of a house and garden property that invites visitors comfortably into a bygone era of Edwardian grace and polish, both in the distinctive bedroom designs and in shared areas of the house. www.manoavalleyinn.com.
The Tropical Hideaway is a Hawaiian garden retreat to remember, about a half hour drive south of the Kona International Airport near the Place of Refuge National Park. The self-catering cottage is truly an original in a lush garden setting with over 200 types of trees and plants, an outdoor shower and flush toilet, and a bed perched over a chunk of black lava. The studio suite in the main house is less distinctive in design but equally accommodating. Kathleen Carr is your gracious hostess, www.tropicalhideawayhawaii.com.
Volcano Village Vacation Rentals offers an amazing catalogue of self-catering house and duplex accommodations in a lush tropical forest setting just minutes from the contrasting dramatically barren landscapes of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is a cooler part of the Big Island at 3,500 feet elevation with plenty to see and do, so plan to linger and enjoy the village and its natural areas.
Contact Bea Arnapole to experience some of the best area vacation housing at exceptional prices, www.volcanogallery.com/volcano__village_choice_.htm. Volcano Gallery‘s entire web directory is a comprehensive one-stop information window on the region and a true labor of love showcasing what’s new and different on Bea’s adopted island.
What a view from the top floor bedroom’s picture window! Sleeping 1 to 10 people, Apapane Lodge, in a tree fern forest on the edge of Volcano Village is a vacation rental bird watcher’s dream. Alison Gardner
Volcano Rainforest Retreat and B & B defines ultimate privacy with its distinctive guest cottages secluded under the canopy of a native rainforest near Volcano Village. Hosts, Peter and Kathleen Golden, also offer health and wellness vacation packages at different times of the year for those who wish to nurture themselves through massage, energy healing, relationship counseling, personal growth workshops and guided spiritual retreats. www.volcanoretreat.com/.
Owner, Johnsie Sumner, offers simple, home-like accommodation with a long name: Affordable Hawaii at Pomaika’i “Lucky” Farm B&B. It is a century-old still-working macadamia nut/Kona coffee farm on the South Kona coast, surrounded by birds, tropical fruit, and exotic flowers. Some rooms are in the garden and others in the main house; hearty farm breakfasts are included with many homemade specialties. Johnsie’s knowledge of the area and interest in helping visitors discover it are definite bonuses. www.luckyfarm.com.
Purchased in 1986 and completely renovated by renowned European chef, Albert Jeyte, and his wife, Lorna, Kilauea Lodge is ideally located in Volcano Village, a mile from Volcanoes National Park. Originally a YMCA camp built in 1938, dormitory rooms have been transformed into 14 unique guest rooms and cottages with Hawaiian country furnishings and private bathrooms. Breakfast is included. Even if staying elsewhere, a meal is a must in the historic lodge restaurant with its enormous Fireplace of Friendship. www.kilauealodge.com.
Ka`anapali Beach Hotel on Maui’s west shore is hard to describe, but well worth a visit. While the appearance and facilities are those of a large mainstream resort, the atmosphere is uniquely Hawaiian with a staff at every level of management whose pride in their workplace and a distinctive sense of Hawaiian hospitality must be experienced to appreciate why this property is called Hawaii’s most Hawaiian hotel. The unusually large repeat clientele from around the world bear witness to the special “aloha” spirit of the resort. Check out our illustrated feature article that introduces this property and its successful philosophy in greater depth. www.kbhmaui.com.
Hotel employee choirs are always ready to jump in with a song for any occasion. KB Hotel
Ka’anapali Timeshare resorts let Maui lovers stay in luxury accommodations every year. Enjoy comfort in your spacious multi-bedroom suite, with a full kitchen, private balcony, and more! KaanapaliTimeshare.com has an inventory of these suites priced far below resort costs. www.kaanapalitimeshare.com.
Located in Ulupono in the center of Maui, The Old Wailuku Inn is the perfect headquarters for up-country explorations of the island’s winery and other agri-tourism treasures without hours of driving from the main beach resort area. It is a gracious 1920s home with seven large cool rooms, some of which are in the original house and others in a new building on the property.
There is plenty of public space inside the historic house and in the lovely tropical garden, with comfortable furnishings in Hawaiiana style. Personable and attentive Island-born innkeepers, Tom and Janice Fairbanks, share their knowledge of the local culture, and make you feel like ‘Ohana (family), offering full gourmet breakfasts that capture the Hawaii of old, while pampering guests in grand style. www.oldwailukuinn.com.
This elegant Wailuku home was first built by a wealthy banker as a wedding present for his new daughter-in-law. Alison Gardner
Built in 1924 by a Portuguese immigrant family with 13 children, Hale Ho`okipa Inn is an historic Hawaiian plantation home, listed on both the Hawaii State and National Historic Registers. Located in the upcountry “Hawaiian rodeo meets New Age” town of Makawao, it is close to fabulous hiking and bird watching on Haleakala volcano and its national park. The property and house have been rescued from the wrecker’s ball and lovingly restored by owner and host, Cherie Attix, www.maui-bed-and-breakfast.com.
In September 2003, 27 grandchildren of the original owners came “home” to celebrate the inn’s restoration. Alison Gardner
Strategically located at the gateway to Waimea Canyon [Hawaii’s Grand Canyon] and Kauai’s spectacular Napali Coast, Waimea Plantation Cottages is nestled in the midst of a century-old coconut grove that fringes a classic fine sand beach that beckons to be strolled. More than 50 historic worker’s cottages on the plantation have been carefully restored to capture the spirit and reality of the time while providing a full range of self-catering modern amenities for guests. Contact Coast Hotels Waimea Plantation.
Each of the Plantation Waimea Cottages is furnished in historic character. Alison Gardner
On Kauai’s south shore minutes from classic beaches and Garden Island highlights, The Villas at Poipu Kai is a new boutique resort perfect for groups of friends or multigenerational family vacations. With a choice of 2 to 4 bedroom poolside or garden units, each villa features a gourmet kitchen, attractive plantation-style living area, washer/dryer, and a veranda (lanai) exemplifying the charm and relaxation of Hawaii. www.villasatpoipukai.com
Styled after a Polynesian village from a time when outrigger canoes were the only transportation among the Hawaiian Islands, Hotel Molokai, offers spacious oceanfront and garden suites and bungalows, many with self-catering kitchens. It is the only full service hotel on the island, with pool, outdoor bar and restaurant facing the sea, tour booking service and a certified spa center. The hotel’s Hula Shores waterfront restaurant looking out to the neighboring island of Lanai is the perfect backdrop for some really outstanding menu items, including my favorite, coconut jumbo shrimp served fresh, fresh, fresh and so delicious!
Hotel Molokai’s buildings reflect traditional Polynesian village architecture. Alison Gardner
If you have a recollection of Hotel Molokai as sadly neglected and seriously run down, the good news is it has undergone a huge overhaul with recent purchase and renovation by new international management. You will be happily surprised! www.hotelmolokai.com.
You’ll find the beautiful 14,000-acre Pu`u o Hoku Ranch Lodge and Cottages at 750 feet elevation on a winding country road surrounded by lush pastures, tropical forests and acres of certified organic produce grown on the property. Expect sweeping ocean views and glimpses of resident axis deer, nene geese, and the occasional wild pig trooping across the manicured lawns. Guided horseback adventures are customized to fit each rider’s abilities for guests 10 and older.
Favored as a small-group retreat center, the Lodge has a spacious dining hall, massive lava rock fireplace, all natural wood and high beamed ceilings to complement the 11 guest rooms, seven of which have private bathrooms with shower.
The veranda of Pu`u o Hoku Ranch is a perfect spot to contemplate just about anything! Alison Gardner
Two large, self-catering vacation cottages are popular with families and friends traveling together. There is a three-night minimum for all ranch accommodation. http://puuohoku.com.
Hotel Lanai was built in 1923 by Jim Dole of pineapple fame specifically to host VIP guests to the vast plantations he had planted on the island. Fully renovated and under new ownership, all ten rooms have ceiling fans, hardwood floors, pedestal sinks of historic vintage, country quilts on the beds and dozens of original pictures of the old plantation days to encourage guests to step back into this island’s unusual history. This is a true country inn of 10 rooms with a cool, sweeping veranda for watching the world go by and a fine Lanai City Grille restaurant reflecting the best of Hawaii’s regional cuisine. www.hotellanai.com.
Hotel Lanai was originally build as a 1920s guest house for plantation visitors. Hotel Lanai
Dreams Come True is a renovated plantation house in Lanai City (population 3,500). Originally built in 1925, it has retained the traditional charm and history of its early 20th century era while offering all the comforts of the early 21st century. Guests have access to a well-equipped kitchen and a garden full of fruit for the picking. Passionfruit, mangos, bananas, avocados, and papaya grow in this mature garden year round. Susan and Michael Hunter, residents of Lanai for the past 25 years, are your hosts at this charming four-room bed and breakfast accommodation set among the Cook Island pines at a comfortable elevation of 1,600 feet to catch the ocean breezes. TripAdvisor reviews.
Dreams Come True offers a home-like setting for vacationing on Lanai. Dreams Come True
You are invited to click on our own web magazine’s Alternative Hawaii Table of Contents to explore the unique collection of article and resource pages devoted to the many small-group tours operators, wellness tourism providers, spectacular bird photography, language and cultural treasures of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island [Hawaii], Lanai and Molokai.
Feel free to explore other stories about alternative Hawaiian vacations well suited to senior travelers, their families and friends. Click on the titles below to read each inspiring article.
Maui’s wine, goats and lavender
Moloka’i mule ride
Lana’i moves slowly into tourism
Hawaiian Islands volunteer vacations
Maui’s most Hawaiian hotel
Hawaii’s tasty cultural cuisine
Hawaii tour operators and planners
Language and culture
Hawaiian bird pictures
Hawaii wellness vacationing
Hawaii’s wellness providers
Maui Zipline Adventure