Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lana'i Island


Yesterday someone who knows me well, remarked that my voice sounded relaxed on the phone.

I agreed, having just returned from the lovely island of Lana'i. The last time I visited was many years ago in an outrigger canoe crossing the Au'au Channel, landing on the white sand beach of Manele Bay.

My recommendation for travel nowadays would be the Expeditions Ferry departing from Lahaina with 5 round trips daily. It is a comfortable 45 minute ride, with spectacular views.

From the dock, one can take a shuttle up into Lana'i City to the Dollar Car Rental to pick up a jeep, one method of transport while visiting the island, the other option being the shuttle buses that travel from town to the two beautiful resorts, and the harbor.

My brother, sister-in-law, and I rented a jeep and cruised to the windward side of the island to visit Shipwreck Beach and Keomuku where the remnants of a failed sugar cane operation lay rusting in the kiawe forest. Here is a fisherman
throwing net in front of Shipwreck.

On our return we were treated to one of the most glorious sunsets I have ever seen. We were so busy oohhing and aaahhing and taking pictures that we never made it to the acclaimed Ko'ele Lodge. The largest wood framed building in the state is an elegant country estate on green pasture land surrounded by the wonderful Cook Pines.

The beauty of the pine forest sang to me, reminding me of my childhood in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I love the magnificent Norfolk Pine in my yard at Hale Ho'okipa, and to be caressed by the alpine air in a forested landscape was indeed a special treat.

We stayed at the Hotel Lana'i, a 1923 home built by Jim Dole to house his VIP guests. Our room was comfortable with the ambiance of yesteryear. In fact, most of Lana'i City is in a bit of a time warp. Loved it!!! The pace is slow, the people were friendly, and my favorite classic plantation architecture abounded.

The Hotel Lana'i is home to the Lana'i City Grille featuring regional cuisine for a sophisticated palate. We were very satisfied and impressed with their menu , preparation and delicious flavors.

Just down from the hotel across from Dole Park, a gym, two eateries, two galleries and a few shops beckon. We visited the Mike Carroll Gallery where my family purchased a great piece of art from a Hawaii artist. Mike was fun to chat with. His gallery is tastefully appointed with quality art from all over the islands and antique furnishings from the Orient.

After breakfast, we wandered over to the Lana'i Culture and Heritage Center. Their focus is to honor the past, and enrich the future. The director, Kepa Maly, was most gracious with his time and intimate history of his beloved island. The center is temporarily housed in a small room awaiting renovations to a more worthy space.

We stopped in the Manele Bay resort on our way down to the beach. The opulence was a bit over the top for my taste, but quite stunning. If you are looking for an umbrella drink, my guess is this would be a good place to check out. It is beautifully situated overlooking the blue Pacific rimmed by a half moon white sand beach. At the beach we took a hike to view the Pu'u Pehi, commonly known as Sweetheart Rock. Breathtaking beauty that filled us up to the top before our departure on the ferry back home to Maui.

If you want an added bonus to your Maui vacation, plan a day trip to Lana'i. If you live in Hawaii, visiting Lana'i will make you sigh with nostalgia.

The trades are blowing again, all is clear and all is well.

Much Aloha,

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