The Beach Village is eco-friendly and
attracts families, groups and the
During my 20-minute drivefrom Maun-aloa town down to theBeach
Village at Molokai Ranch, I watched the approaching solitary
shoreline and wondered how anyone had the foresight to build a
resort there. When I reached my destination and surveyed the scene,
however, I understood in a heartbeat.
At one end of the property rose a cluster of palms and a handful
of tan and green umbrellas shading a central pavilion, which
overlooked a crescent beach and dazzling sea. Tidy platform tents
were tucked away in groves of palms. Hammocks swayed in the gentle
tradewinds as if they were part of the scenery, and wild turkeys
and axis deer strolled the grounds like they owned the place. While
previously this remote locale seemed an unlikely place to put a
Hawaiian vacation getaway, now I was utterly convinced that it
With an intelligent design honoring the rich environment and
culture of the area, the Beach Village is a one-of-a-kind Hawaii
visitor accommodation. Unabashedly eco-friendly, it’s not for
everyone, appealing primarily to families, groups, environmentally
conscious clients and couples who love the great outdoors.
At the Beach Village, everyone stays in bungalow-like tents
called tentalows with wooden floors, canvas walls and zippered
screen windows. Each tentalow features queen-size or twin beds,
solar-powered lights and ceiling fans and night tables with
flashlights and candles. Clients store their clothes not in
dressers but in handsome wooden footlockers, and guest bathrobes
hang on wall pegs. Forget about the standard hotel refrigerator;
here, each unit comes with an in-room cooler stocked and
replenished daily with ice and soft beverages. Most tentalows are
getting new canvas in the next several months to keep
accommodations fresh in the face of the elements.
Each private bathroom is an innovation. Open to the skies, it
features a sink, self-composting flush toilet operated by a foot
pedal and shower with a pull handle that monitors the flow of
water, as hot or cold as your clients like. Like any hotel, the
housekeeping staff lays in a supply of shampoo and other bath needs
and makes the beds each day.
Platform “tentalows” feature canvas walls
and zippered screen windows.
Beach Village meals take place buffet-style in the open-air
pavilion, with many items made-to-order by on-site chefs. One day,
they custom-cooked omelettes and pancakes for breakfast, with
grilled fish and steaks for dinner. While no midday meal is served
at the pavilion, clients can order a box lunch with chips, cookies,
fruit and a choice of sandwiches.
Throughout the day, the pavilion doubles as a gathering place
for guests with its selection of games, reading material, day-long
supply of juice and coffee, and the only television and telephone
in the village.
On one day alone, I met visitors from Montana, Las Vegas,
Colorado and the Pacific Northwest, all of whom said they were
drawn to the Beach Village because they were looking for something
different in a Hawaii vacation.
What I didn’t expect beforehand was the special spark of the
staff. While most all islanders pride themselves on their aloha
spirit, Molokai Ranch employees take it one step further with their
unpretentious charm and uninhibited humor, or as one employee told
me, “We are who we are.” Their spirit is contagious, and once
clients catch it, they care less about their appearance and the
time of day, and more about kicking back.
For a treat, clients should introduce themselves to Pilipo
Solatorio, affectionately known as Anakala (Uncle) Pilipo, who
spends Tuesdays through Saturdays at the Beach Village. Raised in
historic Halawa Valley on Molokai’s rural east side, this wealth of
island history readily recounts tales told to him by his
grandfather and other kupuna (elders). A past winner of the Hawaii
Tourism Authority’s annual Keep It Hawaii awards, he’s clearly
committed to perpetuating the Hawaiian culture and sharing it with
Since Molokai prides itself on its natural beauty, advise
clients to book at least one add-on activity, like snorkeling,
scuba diving, hiking, horseback rides, mountain biking, ocean
kayaking and sailing. While the village’s sandy cove looks like a
slice of heaven, weaker swimmers should stay out of its strong
waves and cool off in the protected tidepools instead. For guests
requiring a change of scene, a drive back up the dirt road leads to
the Beach Village’s sister property, the Lodge at Molokai Ranch,
home to a day spa, swimming pool, restaurant and cross-signing
On the eve of my departure from the Beach Village, I sat on my
private deck as the sky came alive with billions of stars and
stellar constellations. Across the channel I could see the steady
glow of cosmopolitan Oahu, only 27 miles away but a world apart
from mellow Molokai. Once again, it hit me: they got it right when
they created this place.
The Beach Village at Molokai Ranch
100 Maunaloa Hwy.
Maunaloa, HI 96770
Rates: From $294-$386 per night.
Pavilion meals and activities cost extra. Nightly travel agent
rates start at $100.
Commission: 10 percent