Molokai Ranch offers solitude, recreational options

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MAUNA LOA -- Once you get accustomed to the fact that the west end of Molokai is barren, rocky and dry, the new Molokai Ranch Lodge becomes more palatable as a vacation spot.

Don't expect the lush, green paradise that most Hawaii brochures portray. This is 54,000 acres of real Hawaiian ranch. The 22-room lodge, which opened in September, sits on a high bluff overlooking a grand expanse of red dirt that eventually disappears into the ocean.

If at first the scrubby, desolate landscape throws you, after a few hours you realize that solitude can be a good thing on vacation. Looking out over a few miles of flat land and an infinity of ocean is calming.

The pool at the Molokai Ranch Lodge in Hawaii. Besides the views and the solitude, most guests lodge come for its extensive recreation program. Guests can take part in horse roundups, cattle drives, mountain biking, guided hikes, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, archery, a ropes course, and Hawaiian crafts, all of which range from $25 to $125.

And inside the lodge, the locals who work there make the visit very friendly.

Being one of the least populated islands with only about 6,000 people, Molokai is down to earth.

Here is an example: A restaurant waiter from the lodge approached a couple at the airport who had stayed at the lodge the previous night, enquired about their meal and offered an apology for the tardy check. The couple were quite stunned at such a gesture from an off-duty waiter but nonetheless grateful.

As for food at the lodge, it is quite good. There is one main restaurant and a bar and lounge that also serves fine food.

The only other dining option is across the street at the Village Grill, which serves fish dishes, burgers, Asian stir fry and surf-and-turf-type plates.

Both the restaurant and the lounge in the lodge have ocean and ranch views.

The lodge offers two types of rooms at single or double occupancy prices: deluxe for $295 a night and luxury for $350 a night. A third person charge is $75 a night.

Transfers to the lodge from the airport are $20 per person roundtrip.

The lodge has a large central room with a fireplace, a game room, a heated swimming pool, a fitness center, a spa with massage service and a meeting room.

The lodge also has a wedding package for $1,500. Included are a ceremony on the beach or in a garden at the lodge with a nondenominational service, a bottle of wine and a wedding cake.

Also included are the service of a solo Hawaiian musician, a floral bouquet for the bride and boutonniere for the groom, the services of a photographer who will supply 24 4-by-6-inch photos with a photo album, a wedding coordinator for one hour, transportation to obtain a marriage license and airport transfers. Accommodations are extra.

Molokai Ranch
Phone: (877) 726-4656.

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