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Nights Under Canvas

Molokai, Hawaii

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Most package vacations offer an all-in deal on flights, meals and rooms. If you go to the Beach Village at Molokai Ranch, on the small Hawaiian island of Molokai, you’ll maybe get two thirds of this deal. Rather than a room, you’ll find yourself in a ‘tentalow’ – a beach bungalow with a canvas roof on a wooden platform. The sea is just yards away, and the resort offers excellent value for money.

Molokai is one of the less developed islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. A mountainous place, full of hidden beaches and coves, it has a small population and no major roads, railroads or cities. It is, in short, a haven of peace and quiet stuck out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The Molokai Ranch occupies 65,000 acres of land that used to belong to a local king, as well as a couple of major international pineapple companies. This spacious expanse of land allows guests at the beach village – and other resorts on the site, such as the Molokai Lodge – to relax in peace and solitude.

Beach Village: TentalowThe Beach Village is made up of forty tentalows, dotted around the lush lawns that lie immediately behind the Ranch’s long beachfront. In many ways they offer a truly unique vacation experience. Each tentalow has full family accommodation, plus a bathroom with bathing facilities and separate toilet. In addition there is open decking at the front of each unit, complete with deckchairs and picnic tables.

Each tentalow has a separate power supply.  And here lies another difference that the Beach Village offers: all the electricity you use is generated from sustainable sources, mostly solar power. So as you sit under a cool fan, or enjoy hot water for a bath each evening, you can assure yourself that you’re not contributing to the pollution of this lovely island. One of the key philosophies of of the Molokai Ranch is environmental friendliness and sustainability: even the toilets are of a composting design that requires no electrical pumping or artificial chemical additives!

The activities on offer also reflect the resort’s intention to exist in harmony with nature rather than in opposition to it. There is a full range of watersports on offer, as well as activities that allow you to get out and enjoy the island’s beautiful landscape: mountain biking and horse riding are particularly recommended. There is also an array of more unusual and educative pastimes – if you want to know a little more about the night sky, you can join in one of the resort’s stargazing sessions. The relative lack of street lighting and industrial pollution on Molokai means that the sky is very clear and the stars are crisp and clear. If you lie on the beach at night and let your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, you’ll be amazed at just how many stars you can see. You begin to realize just what a staggering number of them there are out there!

Although there is only one central restaurant, The Kaupoa Dining Pavilion, the range of food and the quality of service on offer are superb. It offers three meals a day from a diverse menu, and a full Sunday Brunch running from 11am to 1pm. One of the great things about the Beach Village from a family point of view is the fact that it is extremely welcoming to children – kids under twelve get to stay and eat free. So you have no need to worry about fussy waiting staff shoving you in an inhospitable corner just because you have a young family.

If you’re a golfer, paradise is not far away. The Kalaukoi golf course – designed by Ted Robinson and consistently rated one of the best in Hawaii – is just ten minutes away in Maunaloa Town. The 3,184 yard course enjoys fantastic views, as well as some of the most challenging and interesting golfing terrain anywhere in the world. A particular challenge is the regular stiff sea breeze that blows up from nowhere – usually as your ball is in mid-flight! Green fees are $70, which includes a golf cart, and clubs are available for hire at low rates. There’s also a driving range, a practice area, and a variety of facilities for beginners – the Kalaukoi golf course prides itself as being fun for golfers of all abilities.

Molokai is a unique place in Hawaii. A relatively large island (it’s fifth in size order of the group) it is, nonetheless, completely different in character from some of the tourist hotspots of elsewhere in the state – despite the fact that Honolulu is distantly visible across the water. It’s a haven of peace and tranquillity in an increasingly busy tourist destination, and the Beach Village is perhaps its best-value resort.

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