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Finding the Hidden Hawaii

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Dear Deal Detective,

In early March, I won a 7-night vacation for two that must be taken before 2009. I told my mother I would take her anywhere she would like (there are about 300 locations to choose from). My mother mentioned over Mother’s Day that she would like to visit Hawaii. She does not swim, would not enjoy laying out on a beach, and cannot hike to see a volcano as she is not very mobile. Is there anything you would recommend we might do if I were to take her to Hawaii for an 8-day vacation?

—Mother’s Dream

Dear Mother’s Dream,

A week in Hawaii, hold the beaches and adventure activities, coming right up!

Contrary to what many might think, there’s quite a lot to do in Hawaii that doesn’t require you to break a sweat, meaning your mother can have a great time even without the standard Hawaii tourist pastimes (e.g., adventure and beach activities).

You didn’t mention which island you’re planning to visit, so I’ve put together a sampling of activities on the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu. By mixing and matching, you should be able to find plenty of possibilities to fill your week.

It’s recommended that you do some research into these itinerary possibilities, as many activities may require advance reservations. Additionally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, a good travel agent may be able to help you put together a more customized itinerary.

Big Island

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park, also known as the City of Refuge, offered sanctuary to law-breakers in old Hawaii. Today, this park offers self-guided walking tours, fishing and picnicking, and cultural seminars on basket weaving, traditional Hawaiian games, lei-making, and the like. See wooden images of the gods, royal grounds (once only accessible by the King and his subjects), and temples. The park is about 25 miles outside of Kailua-Kona, and a $5 car entrance fee gets park access to all in your party.

If your mother enjoys coffee, consider visiting a coffee plantation. The Big Island has more than 600 coffee farms, and several open their doors for tours, tastings, and more. Kona Lea Plantation offers free tours and tastings; other possibilities include Hula Daddy, Mountain Thunder, and Pele Plantations.

The Big Island is also home to hundreds of farms. Hawaii AgVentures partners with 450 island farms for on-site visits and tours. Options include visiting orchid nurseries, organic vegetable farms, lavender fields, and authentic Hawaiian ranches.

Kauai

A boat ride around the Na Pali Coast offers a less-strenuous way to take in the gorgeous scenery (versus hiking). Na Pali Catamaran and Captain Sundown are two options. If you’d rather take to the skies for a birds-eye view of the coast, there are also helicopter tours.

You can also relish the lush tropical island setting at the Limahuli Garden and Preserve. View lava rock terraces, tropical fruits, flowers, and more. Self-guided and guided tours are available, with fees ranging from $15 to $25 per person. Umbrellas and walking sticks are provided.

After enjoying the outdoors, you can indulge with a variety of spa treatments at the Princeville Health Club & Spa on Kauai’s North Shore. Options include a plethora of massages, facials, and body wraps; many wraps include local products such as seaweed and Hawaiian plant oils.

Maui

The [% 2309197 | | Road to Hana %] scenic drive cannot be missed. This winding, scenery-laden road weaves from Kahului to Hana, a small town in eastern Maui. The 68-mile trek usually takes about two-and-a-half to three hours, mainly because of all the curves (there are over 600), bridges, and (at times) the road’s narrow one-lane width. You can rent a car and do the trip yourself or book a local tour company to do the driving for you. The Maui Information Guide offers great tips for this popular road trip. Once in Hana, many like this small town so much that they spend a few days here, relaxing in the quiet.

The Old Lahaina Luau provides a culturally accurate glimpse into this authentic Hawaiian tradition. Enjoy a traditional Hawaiian dinner by the ocean with live music, hula dancing, and arts and crafts. Advance reservations are required; the cost is $95 per adult and includes all food, drinks, and entertainment.

Think U.S. wineries are only to be found on the West Coast? Think again! Head to the tasting room at Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch to sample red, white, and sparkling wines. You can even try some fruity varietals such as raspberry and pineapple. The tasting room is open daily, and there are three free tours each day (10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.) as well.

Oahu

If you’ve ever wondered where Dole pineapples come from, look no farther than the Dole Plantation, about 40 minutes outside of Waikiki in Wahiawa, central Oahu. Both train-ride and walking tours of the plantation are available, and there’s also a Pineapple Garden Maze. Tickets range from $4 to $10, depending on what you choose to see. There are also free activities including pineapple cutting demonstrations, fish feeding, and the like.

The Hawaiian Polynesian Cultural Center immerses visitors in seven native villages, giving a first-hand glimpse into Hawaiian and Polynesian people, customs, and traditions. Located about an hour from Waikiki, the center has a variety of daily activities, live demonstrations and seminars, meals, and more. See a little or a lot, depending on what appeals to you—the Center has put together a variety of admission packages tailored to a wide range of tastes.

If your mother is interested in military history, consider visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, also known as Pearl Harbor. A visit includes a documentary film viewing, a boat ride, and self-guided tour of the memorial area. Admission is free, and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

And believe it or not, these suggestions are just scratching the surface of all Hawaii has to offer. Hopefully this provided enough inspiration for an unforgettable trip! For further resources, check out the official Hawaii Tourism website.

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