The island of Lanai, also known as the Pineapple Island, is an ideal travel destination if you want a “private” vacation in Hawaii. With an area of 141 square miles or 365 square kilometers, it is the smallest inhabited island in the Aloha State.
Lanai’s population is very small; only 3,000 people live there. Considered as “Hawaii’s most exclusive island,” it can be the setting for your much-awaited Hawaii vacation. With its natural beauty and romantic atmosphere, Lanai is one of the most relaxing tourist spots in Hawaii.
The History of Lanai
The first inhabitants of the island of Lanai most likely came from nearby Maui and Molokai. Residents established fishing villages along the coast and later branched out to raising taro in the fertile volcanic soil.
Life in Lanai was relatively peaceful, until King Kamehameha I took control of the island. Unfortunately, many inhabitants were killed during his reign. It was the king’s favorite fishing spot of all the Hawaiian Islands.
On February 25, 1779, Captain Charles Clerke became the first European to see the island. He was aboard the HMS Resolution, the ship of Captain James Cook, who was killed on February 14 that same year at Kealakekua Bay after a voyage to the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1922, James Dole, then president of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (which became the Dole Food Company), bought the island and developed a huge portion of it to become the world’s largest pineapple plantation.
In 1985, David Murdock became the new “owner” of Lanai, after he purchased a majority share of Castle and Cooke, which owns the Dole Food Company.
The “Private Island” of Lanai
In June 2012, Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, bought 98% of the island of Lanai from its previous owner David Murdoch. It was reported in the papers that the deal was worth more than $500 million. The state of Hawaii still owns the remaining 2%.
One of the wealthiest people in the world, Ellison plans to provide additional investments to improve Lanai’s infrastructure and create an environmentally-friendly agriculture industry. This can lead to more jobs and help boost tourism in the future.
At present, three hotels are operating in Lanai. These are the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lodge at Koele, and Hotel Lanai. The first two are being managed by Four Seasons Hotels, while the last was built in 1923 by James Dole, president of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company.
As a whole, Lanai can be considered as a “green community.” There are no shopping malls and traffic lights on the island. Hotels provide transportation by means of shuttle buses. Most of the attractions in Lanai can be reached by using bicycles or off-road vehicles.
Places To See in Lanai
This beach has an eight-mile stretch of sand ideal for picnicking, sunbathing, fishing, and exploring. One word of caution though, rough waters and strong currents make Shipwreck Beach unsuitable for swimming.
The numerous reefs, large waves, and powerful currents make Shipwreck Beach a dangerous place for ships. The first documented ship that sunk in the area was a British vessel, Alderman Wood, in 1824.
Two years later, London, an American ship, also sunk there. It was reported that the ship was carrying treasures such as gold and silver, although it is still unclear how much of it was ever recovered.
But the most famous ship in this beach is the remains of the Liberty Ship, a concrete barge built during World War II, which can be seen near the shore. It is still lying there up to now because it is more economical just to let it sit there than to remove it altogether.
Situated along the north shore of Lanai, Shipwreck Beach can be reached by using a four-wheel drive vehicle. If you are coming from Lanai City, take Highway 44, then turn left to the dirt road near the lighthouse ruins. There is a hiking trail on the beach, and you can also find petroglyphs 100 yards from the parking area.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT LANAI
This beautiful resort hotel features a combination of Oriental and Mediterranean designs. It has 236 guest rooms which include 21 private suites. Most of the rooms have big lanais and views of Hulopoe Beach. You may want to stay here during your Hawaii vacation.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai ranks as one of the World’s Top Resorts for 2007/2008 according to the Zagat Survey. The resort is well-known for its services and amenities, which includes a premiere golf course, pools, spa services, and fitness facilities.
GARDEN OF THE GODS
Check out beautiful and unique rock formations at Keahiakawelo, also known as the Garden of the Gods. To reach this place, you can use a four-wheel drive vehicle. From here, tourists can see the islands of Oahu and Molokai on a clear day.
This beautiful beach can be found in southern Lanai along Hulupoe Bay. A Marine Life Conservation Area, it is home to Hawaii’s diverse species of fish and corals. The clear waters of Hulopoe Beach make it an excellent spot for snorkeling, one of the best in the world.
It is also ideal for swimming, even for kids. There is no lifeguard in the area, so parents are still advised to look after their children. Hulopoe Beach is open to the public. Amenities include barbecue grills, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.
PU’U PEHE (SWEETHEART ROCK)
A picturesque landmark in Lanai, Pu’u Pehe, also known as Sweetheart Rock, is situated between Hulopoe Bay and Lanai’s main harbor Manele Bay. This place is featured in Hawaiian legend, which tells the story of two lovers, a warrior from Lanai named Makakehau and a maiden from Lahaina named Pehe.
From the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, you can hike a trail past Hulopoe Beach to reach this spot. Share a romantic sunset with your special someone and see amazing views of the ocean. If you’re lucky, you can even see spinner dolphins which frequent these waters.
Lanai is home to three golf courses. The Challenge at Manele borders the Pacific Ocean and was designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates got married on the 12th hole tee box.
The Experience at Koele is a golf course situated in the mountains of Lanai, designed by Ted Robinson and Greg Norman. The Cavendish is a nine-hole public golf course surrounded by Norfolk pines designed by E. B. Cavendish in 1947.
A white sand beach stretching for over 1.5 miles, Polihua Beach is a good spot for sunbathing, exploring, beach walks, and family picnics. However, it is advised that you do these activities early during the day, as it can get pretty windy in the afternoon.
Consider the island of Lanai as a travel destination for your Hawaii vacation. The natural beauty and romantic atmosphere of this “private” island are just some of the reasons why it is one of the most relaxing tourist spots in Hawaii.
Some of the places you can visit are Shipwreck Beach, Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Garden of the Gods, Hulopoe Beach, Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), and Polihua Beach. Check out the island’s golf courses – Challenge at Manele, Experience at Koele, and the Cavendish. Visit Lanai, an island of beauty and romance.