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There’s nothing wrong with a relaxing vacation in which you feel pampered and taken care of, especially when you visit a place as inherently luxurious as Hawaii. Just being on the islands takes you to an entirely new state of being, so why not take that to the next level and make your whole experience alternative? There is a host of untapped variations on the traditional vacation, such as volunteering on an organic farm, working at a farmer’s market or staying a night in a locally-built treehouse.
First, you don’t have to go too far out of your comfort zone. Many of us love staying in hotels and will do so even if we will be out milking goats later. Start off at one of my favorites, like the Modern Honolulu or many other Honolulu hotels, before heading off to one of these new activities! To get started, think about the things you like best about Hawaii. Cuisine, outdoor activities, alternative designs and a welcoming community all create the perfect environment to volunteer your time and spirit.
Hawaii has plenty of charities and national parks that could use your stewardship! Whether it’s just for a few days or a long-term project you invest yourself in, there are plenty of opportunities with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, numerous beach clean up efforts, Hawaii Sierra Club or the Institute for Cultural Ecology Wildlife organizations need help (thank counting whales and birds) or help with the upkeep of Hawaii’s trails.
There are actually a good number of custom-built treehouses dotting Hawaii, and they are a great place to really get away from everything. Proudly constructed and operated by true locals, they serve as great alternatives to bed and breakfasts. My favorite is tucked away in the forest near Kilauea, the Exotic Treehouse is truly a fantastic place to spend a night. The bamboo cottage sits off in the fragrant forest features stained-glass windows, a cedar hot tub and a bamboo deck that lets you bask in the glow of the volcano and the starts.
Do you love the regional cuisine of Hawaii? Well, here’s your chance to see it’s full journey before it makes it to your plate. Volunteering on a farm is a great way to broaden your education and practical experience, and you’ll get to meet people and have interesting accommodations along the way! Team up with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which pairs up workers with host farms on Maui, Oahu, Molokai, Kauai and the Big Island. You’ll stay at the farm for one to three weeks, doing everything from spreading manure to planting.
However you choose to spend you alternative vacation in Hawaii, think of it as an educational experience. Now, the next time you sip Kona coffee, eat some macadamias or marvel over your photos, you’ll have a deeper understanding of where it all came from.