The island of Lanai is called the Private Island, but it could be called the Exclusive Island or the Elegant Island. While tourists are welcome, there are only a few hotels, so a limited number of people get the opportunity to stay. Whichever hotel you choose, you will get chance to enjoy the other locations, as there are shuttle buses between the town and the beach. Rent a vehicle to drive around the island and experience the incredible variety of land forms, including what looks like a lunar landscape, and the changing shoreline on this undeveloped island. Day trips are offered from Lahaina in Maui, but a longer visit is well worth it.
The historic Hotel Lanai.
Hotel Lanai in Lanai City is a historic landmark built in 1923. For most of the 20th century Lanai was called the Pineapple Island. When most of Lanai was owned by the Dole pineapple company, this was the hotel for people arriving on business, and it is still the affordable option. It has just ten rooms with Hawaiian quilts and ceiling fans, and an additional one bedroom cottage. The Lanai City Grille at the hotel continues the tradition of excellent food for locals as well as visitors. The small town has restaurants, souvenir and craft shops, art galleries and markets. Pineapples are now cheaper to grow overseas, so the local business is tourism, but they still have some of the best and sweetest pineapples.
The Lodge at Koele is a mountain manor house.
It is easy to forget that Lanai is in Hawaii when arriving at the Lodge at Koele, which resembles a European mountain lodge set in the pine trees. The activities reflect the mood of the setting, with horseback riding, croquet, archery, lawn bowling, and even clay shooting. The interior of the lodge has some fascinating artifacts on display, and has demonstrations of Hawaiian crafts. The hotel is high up so it is much cooler than many other places in Hawaii. The grounds are lovely for taking a walk, or sitting and relaxing. I particularly enjoyed visiting the small elegant greenhouse filled with a wonderful collection of orchids.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.
This resort is on the beach at Hulopoe Bay. There is a choice of the lovely pool or the bay for swimming, and poolside or a beach chair for relaxing with a cool tropical drink. The tide pools at one end of the beach are worth exploring, and the water off the rocks is perfect for diving, or just some casual snorkeling. Spinner dolphin love this bay as much as people do, and they can be seen swimming around the entrance to the bay. In season, the whales may put on a show of breeching and splashing back into the water. We had our binoculars handy to see the whales and the dolphin.
There is so much to do on Lanai, with beaches, golf, diving, and snorkeling.
The marine preserve at Manele Bay has green sea turtles and colorful reef fish close to shore, and spinner dolphin out in the bay. Golfers will enjoy the award winning courses, including the one designed by Jack Nicklaus has ocean views from every hole. Greg Norman and architect Ted Robinson designed a course up at the lodge with views of the mountains as well as the ocean in the distance. Day trips to Lahaina, fishing excursions, trips out to the historic pictographs, or visits to other beaches along the coast provide a change of scenery. The amazing thing is that there are not only many choices of activities, but there is no need to choose between a vacation at a beach resort or one at a mountain lodge. Lanai has the best of both.
Day trips from Maui.
If you can’t stay for a wonderful vacation in this land of the rich and famous, take a day trip by ferry or sailboat from Lahaina on nearby Maui. The boat will drop you off in the small harbor, and it is just a short walk across to the bay on the other side of the island. Even on a day trip, there will be time to swim, snorkel, and enjoy the beach. There is a small park next to the beach for local residents which is a good place for a picnic. We docked our sailboat in this harbor for extended visits several times and found it hard to leave such a beautiful place.