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Don't kid yourself. Hawaii is popular, developed and touristy. There are Wal-Marts and stoplights and hundreds of places to purchase surfboard key chains and red dirt t-shirts. 

But what about those lusty trade winds and water the color of your turquoise ring? What about palm trees that dance at sunset and sailing across miles of water that makes you weep just to look at it? What about the real Hawaii? You know, the one with native dancers and hidden biking trails and sea turtles that kiss you on the shoulder?

It's all there and this postcard banquet of bliss is not as hard to find — or as pricey -- as you might think. With a little luck and investigation, it’s easy to discover the hidden side of Hawaii and rack up a list of adventures that rate more than high on your "Oh, My Gawd!" list.

Begin your Hawaiian adventures by staying on the north Shore of Oahu, where tourists rarely stay. We bunked at the Windward Marine Resort where our house was nestled in the hills next to the locals, where we had fresh fruit every morning, a spectacular view of Kaneohe Bay and service that included a private boating adventure arranged by one of the managers when the regular boat was out of commission.

From the edge of this bay to the tip of infamous Sunset Beach, there are miles of quiet highway, numerous deserted beaches and small ocean side villages where you can rub elbows with local residents, eat a fresh fish sandwich for $5 and get a sense for why this state is called paradise.On Kauai, we found the secluded, private waterfall that everyone in the world dreams about. Saddling up a couple of ponies at Princeville Ranch Stables, we headed out onto a private ranch.

 "This is Hawaii," we pretty much said in unison as we stumbled back to the van that took us home.A gut-wrenching, 38-mile ride up the Na Pali Coast on an inflated raft rounded out our visit to this island and put us in the mood for some long drives on the next island. On a quick stop on Hawaii, the big island, we followed the Macadamia Nut Trail -- just a paper trail really -- that led us to the farm of Diane and Bill Shriner. 

From bud, to bloom to nut, Diane showed us her farm operation and her gardens. We picked and cracked nuts and experienced another slice of the real Hawaii few visitors get to see. Where are all the crowds we had so dreaded? On Maui, we all thought we had died and gone to heaven. Once we got away from the shopping centers (ah, here are the crowds!), the island was a maze of beauty. From rainforests to mountains to beaches to deserts, there was a little bit of everything. There’s a reason people like this place. READ MORE

Hawaii

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