By: Beach Bum Hayley
In 1922 James Dole arrived on the tiny Hawaiian island of Lana’i and purchased it (yes, the whole island) for a sweet $1.1 million. Mr. Dole was a smart and successful businessman, you’ve probably tasted the fruits of his labor yourself! Canned Dole Pineapple from Lana’i became a huge hit on the mainland US. At one time Lana’i produced 75 percent of the world’s pineapple! To accommodate the increasing number of workers on his fields, Dole built a plantation camp in the flatlands. This is now Lana’i City (formerly nicknamed “Pineapple Island”). In the late 1980s Lana’i’s pineapple crop began to wither and was therefore no longer profitable. Now owned by Castle & Cooke Resorts, Lana’i has reinvented itself as a one-of-a-kind vacation destination.
Today Lana’i is perfect for travelers seeking exclusivity, peace & quiet, romance and luxury in simple, unspoiled surroundings. Lana’i’s natural and cultural attractions are spread over 141 square miles (with not one traffic light). It’s terrain is mostly unpaved roads, rainforest, and of course, barron pineapple fields. Lana’i has one town with approximately 3,000 local residents. Lana’i is the smallest and least visited of all the Hawaiian Islands. It’s accessible only by ferry or air.
A typical vacation on the island of Lana’i is spent playing golf, hiking, renting a Jeep to tour around the island, explore the remote beaches, or snorkeling/ scuba diving in the archipelago. There are two resorts and two golf courses on the island. The Four Seasons Manele Bay Hotel and Four Seasons Lodge at Koele pamper their guests in every way possible, from ocean side massages to gourmet dinners it’s luxury all the way.
Guest room at the Lodge at Koele:
The two main attractions on the island are Hulopo’e Bay and Manele Bay. Hulopo’e Bay is the center of the island of Lana’i’s beach activities and home to ancient fishing village.
White sand beach at Hulopo’e Bay:
The wide white sand crescent, lined at each end with dramatic lava outcroppings, is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and tide pool exploration. Water temperature stays around 75 F year-round. The beach is a wonderful place to hang out, barbecue and watch schools of spinner dolphins leaping and diving in the bay. From November through April, the dolphins are joined by breaching humpback whales!
Located around the corner from Hulopo’e, Manele Bay is also a marine preserve with the only public boat harbor on the island. All south shore ocean tours originate at Manele Harbor: fishing boats, yachts, the Expeditions ferry, whale-watching, snorkel sails, scuba diving and ocean rafting. The Munro Trail is one of the most amazing hikes on Lana’i.
Hiking Munro Trail:
Winding upward through lush rainforest and Cook pines, this challenging 8-mile trek takes you to the top of the island’s only mountain, the 3,370-foot-high Lana’ihale. Once you reach the peak, astounding views of at least three, and sometimes five neighbor islands (Maui, Moloka’i, Kaho’olawe, Hawai’i and O’ahu) will unfold of steep gulches below.
The Garden of the Gods is located a mile and a half northwest of the Kanepu’u Preserve on Lana’i. This geological wonder has formed from centuries of wind erosion. It’s created an eerie lunar landscape with rock formations in all shades of purple, red, sienna and umber. The surroundings look like a painter’s pallet of the Earth!
If you are a scuba diver, put the Cathedrals dive site on your must-do list. The cathedral-like chambers created by 60-foot pinnacles are filled with all sorts of marine life. As you explore the countless nooks of the First and Second Cathedral you will come face to face with schools of blue-stripe snappers, pyramid butterfly fish, corals and shrimp.
Lana’i’s two championship golf courses have earned worldwide recognition for both layout and views. The Experience at Ko’ele is a spectacular 18-hole course spread high over a plateau and the rolling hills of central Lana’i. Designed by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson, the 7,017-yard, par-72 course is set nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, with views of Maui and Moloka’i directly across the channel.
The Challenge at Manele is built on hundreds of acres of lava fields and dry, desert-like terrain that present their ultimate challenge at the ocean: three holes built on the bluffs above Hulopo’e Bay, where the Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest water hazard. The 7,039-yard, par-72 course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and features panoramic ocean views from all 18 holes.
Sporting clays is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. It’s found its perfect setting here in the northwestern hills of Lana’i. The 15-acre Lana’i Pines Sporting Clays offers 4 target shooting disciplines (trap, skeet, compact sporting, or sporting clays mimicking pheasants and rabbits) with gorgeous views of Maui and Moloka’i across the channel.
Last but not least, the Kanepu’u Preserve is located in the quiet central uplands of Lana’i. Kanepu’u Preserve is a nature lover’s paradise. This 590-acre preserve is the last dry land forest of its kind in the world, home to over 40 species of precious native Hawaiian plants, including lama (native ebony), olopua (native olive), Lana’i sandalwood, and na’u (native gardenia). I was fortunate enough to experience the natural wonders of Lana’i last October. If Lana’i sounds like your perfect Paradise allow Beach Bum Vacation to take you away!