Lanai Travel Guide
With no traffic or traffic lights and miles of open space, Lanai seems lost in time, and that can be a good thing. Small (141 square mi) and sparsely populated, it is the smallest inhabited Hawaiian Island and has just 3,500 residents, most of them living Upcountry.
Though it may seem a world away, Lanai is separated from Maui and Molokai by two narrow channels, and is easily accessed by boat from either island. The two resorts on the island are run by the Four Seasons. If you yearn for a beach with amenities, a luxury resort, and golf course, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay beckons from the shoreline. Upcountry, the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Lodge at Koele provides cooler pleasures. This leaves the rest of the 100,000-acre island open to explore.
Lanai has an ideal climate year-round, hot and sunny at the sea and a few delicious degrees cooler Upcountry. In Lanai City, the nights and mornings can be almost chilly when a mystic fog or harsh trade winds settle in. Winter months are known for slightly rougher weather—periodic rain showers and higher surf.
You can easily explore Lanai City and the island’s two resorts without a car; just hop on the hourly shuttle. To access the rest of this untamed island, you’ll need to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Take a map, be sure you have a full tank, and bring a snack and plenty of water. Ask the rental agency or your hotel’s concierge about road conditions before you set out. If the roads are impassable (as they often are after heavy rains), you may be able to negotiate a refund for your rental car. The main road on Lanai, Route 440, refers to both Kaumalapau Highway and Manele Road.
Lanai Restaurant Reviews
Lanai’s own version of Hawaii regional cuisine (modern Hawaiian food) draws on the fresh bounty provided by local hunters and fishermen, combined with the skills of well-trained chefs. The upscale menus at the Lodge at Koele and the Four Seasons Resort at Lanai Manele Bay encompass European-inspired cuisine as well as innovative preparations of ahi, wild deer, and boar. Lanai City’s eclectic ethnic fare runs from construction-worker-size local plate lunches to pizza and pesto pasta. Keep in mind that Lanai “City” is really just a small town; restaurants sometimes choose to close the kitchen early.
Lanai Hotel Reviews
Though Lanai has few properties, it does have a range of price options. Four Seasons manages both the Lodge at Koele and Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. Although the room rates are different, guests can partake of all the resort amenities at both properties. If you’re on a budget, consider the Hotel Lanai.
House rentals give you a feel for everyday life on the island;www.gohawaii.com has information. In hunting seasons, from mid-February through mid-May, and from mid-July through mid-October, most private properties are booked way in advance. Note: Maui County has regulations concerning vacation rentals; to avoid disappointment, always contact the property manager or owner and ask if the accommodation has the proper permits and is in compliance with local laws. You can also log onto the Maui County Web site (www.co.maui.hi.us), click on”Planning Department,” and search for updated information on legal rentals.
Lanai is certainly not known for its nightlife. Fewer than a handful of places stay open past 9 PM. At the resorts, excellent piano music or light live entertainment makes for a quiet, romantic evening. Another romantic alternative is star-watching from the beaches or watching the full moon rise in all its glory.
A miniforest of Cook pine trees in the center of Lanai City surrounded by small shops and restaurants, Dole Park is the closest thing to a mall on Lanai. Except for the high-end resort boutiques and pro-shops, it provides the island’s only shopping. A morning or afternoon stroll around the park offers an eclectic selection of gifts and clothing, plus a chance to chat with residents. Friendly general stores are reminiscent of the 1920s, and new galleries and a boutique have original art and fashions for men, women, and children. The shops close Sunday and after 5 PM, except for the general stores, which are open a bit later.