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Can you recommend a Hawaiian escape that’s laid-back and more Polynesian?

Learn a new skill during your Hawaii vacation.


The question: Can you recommend a Hawaiian escape that's laid-back and more Polynesian?

The small island of Molokai, with its undeveloped natural beauty, outdoor adventures and slow pace, is considered one of the most laid-back of the islands. But quiet corners can be found elsewhere in Hawaii.

Discovering such an escape offers more than a chance to kick your Twitter habit: It's an opportunity to slow down and "appreciate the beauty of Hawaii and the culture that shaped our islands," says Melissa Chang, a Honolulu native who writes for an Oahu entertainment website

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Here are some ideas, all "cheesy-luau free," Chang says.


At the eastern tip of Maui, at the end of the famous – and famously curving – Hana Highway, sits the small town of Hana and the Travaasa Hana resort (

"The rooms have no clocks, televisions, Internet or radio," says Chang. Instead, guests can trade those diversions, she says, for horseback riding, hiking through bamboo forests or decadent massages.

But what makes this resort fit the bill is both its emphasis on unplugging and on experiencing a real slice of Hawaii. (The luxury property's confident tagline: "Maui's Last Truly Hawaiian Place.") Besides the Polynesian flair coming from the kitchen, you can learn how to husk a coconut, dance the hula and braid a Ti leaf lei without ever leaving the resort.

On the opposite side of the island, meanwhile, is the more moderately priced low-rise Kaanapali Beach Hotel. "If you want immersion in Hawaiian culture, this Maui hotel fits the bill," says Chang. (Competing tagline? "Hawaii's Most Hawaiian Hotel." It lists 110 reasons to back this up and employs a staff of cultural advisers.)

When you aren't lounging in the shade looking at the ocean, immerse yourself in ukulele lessons, the art of pineapple cutting (who knew?) or a garden tour. Or head to the Tiki Bar every evening to watch the professionals perform.

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Another option are the Waimea Plantation Cottages ( on the "quiet west side of Kauai," says Rebecca Pang, who represents the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau ( Located on a former sugar plantation, these restored cottages are outfitted with kitchens and period-inspired furniture. Here, it's less about hula lessons, and more about hanging out in a hammock.

"It's not ancient Hawaii, with thatched roofs, but no less a part of the state's colorful history," Chang adds. "Plantations played a huge part in creating the melting pot of cultures that we are known for … And, Kauai is much more rural than Maui – you'll find many businesses close by 8 p.m. and you will literally be awakened by roosters and chickens at the crack of dawn."

So, let ukuleles lull you to sleep and a rooster (instead of your iPhone) wake you up – sounds laid-back to me.

Follow Karan Smith on Twitter: @karan_smith.

We want your advice: A reader is taking her kids on safari. Where should they go? Send your suggestions and comments to

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