corner of a re-created single man's room at Hawaii's
of tourists flock to Hawaii each year, packing the beaches
and attractions at hot spots such as Oahu’s Waikiki and
it’s easy to escape the crowds at off-the-beaten-track
places around the islands and see some of Hawaii’s
heritage or simply enjoy a blissfully empty beach. Three
places to consider, scattered across Oahu, Molokai and
PLANTATION VILLAGE, OAHU
once was king in Hawaii, the economic linchpin of the
islands. This outdoor heritage museum tells the stories of
the people who lived and worked at the islands’ sugar
plantations from 1850 to 1950, toiling in the sugar-cane
fields and sugar-processing mills and living in tight-knit
half-block of small wood buildings, from family homes and
single men’s rooms to shared bathhouses, has been
grouped at the edge of a brilliant green taro field.
modern multiethnic mosaic was shaped by generations of
such sugar-plantation families who originally came from
China, Japan, the Philippines, Portugal and beyond to work
on the plantations. Visitors can wander through family
cottages adorned with Japanese Buddhist household shrines;
see a single man’s bedroom with its movie-star photos;
wander past a Chinese social hall and the outdoor
Portuguese bread ovens, beehivelike stone ovens for making
the traditional sweet bread.
tours last about 1½ hours and are offered about five
times daily. If you’re lucky, the tour may end with a
sweet taste of fruits, such as star fruit and pomelo, from
the trees that shade the re-created village.
The museum is about 15 miles west of Honolulu on the
outskirts of the town of Waipahu. Adult admission, $13.
island of Molokai is the least touristed, and least
developed, of the main Hawaiian islands. No big hotels, no
fancy restaurants, no traffic; not even a stoplight (a
temporary road-construction stoplight last year caused
some consternation). Locals, many of whom are Native
Hawaiian, want to keep it that way.
Molokai does have is slow-going peace and quiet, a feeling
of Hawaii before mass tourism. To get a taste of the past,
drive along Kamehameha V Highway (Hwy. 450) for 27 miles
from the little town of Kaunakakai to Halawa Valley, at
the island’s east tip, where the road dead ends.
a very Molokai type of "highway." Few cars
travel the two-lane road that hugs the ocean; it becomes
increasingly narrow and winding (and single lane in
places). For the last half-mile it switchbacks about 750
feet down the steep sidewall of the Halawa Valley. Hawaii’s
Polynesian settlers lived in this narrow valley for more
than 1,000 years; these days taro farms and a little wood
chapel dot the remote area.
visitors there’s nothing much at Halawa — except
peaceful, natural beauty. Go beyond a small grassy park
(with picnic tables and restroom) and follow a dirt road
to a beachside parking area. Or walk a few minutes to a
more sheltered white-sand beach.
surf (mostly in winter) and swim. Visitors unfamiliar with
the ocean currents should be cautious; there are no
lifeguards, and help is far away. Take a stroll. Nap under
a tree. Listen to the waves.
energy? Take a guided hike about two miles to Halawa’s
Moa’ula Falls (access restricted as it’s on private
land), which tumbles about 250 feet down the cliffs that
edge the valley. (Among the small companies offering the
tour are Molokaifishanddive.com.)
General island info, including Halawa, is at gohawaii.com/en/molokai.
MISSION HOUSE, KAUAI
away on Kauai’s lush north shore is Waioli Mission House
Museum, built in 1836 as a home for American missionaries
and their families who were bringing Christianity to
Hawaii, then still an independent kingdom.
a bit of New England transplanted to the tropics, a
two-story white wooden house with a shingle roof, paned
windows and a massive stone chimney. Run as a
heritage-house museum, it’s furnished with Shaker-style
and antique furniture, rag rugs and shelves of books.
house is just a block off the main north-shore road near
the little town of Hanalei, with still-in-use church
buildings nearby. But stroll through the mission house’s
peaceful rooms, gaze out the windows over emerald-green
fields to the steep, waterfall-draped peaks and you’re
taken back in time.
Waioli Mission House is run by Grove Farm Homestead &
Museum, a sugar-plantation homestead in Kauai’s main
town of Lihue, 32 miles away. Visit both to learn about
sugar plantations and missionary life in the Hawaiian
Waioli Mission House is open Tuesday, Thursday and
Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donation of $10 per person
is requested. grovefarm.org