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THE ISLAND OF LANAI: GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN
From Maui across the ‘Au‘au Channel, the island of Lanai appears as a rounded hump, like a whale cradled in a calm and gentle sea. From Lanai, the West Maui Mountains are powerful and purple, an extension of itself nine miles of ocean away. In prehistoric times, Lanai was one of several islands joined to Maui. Now it’s a small, graceful, sparsely populated destination with its own strong identity: Hawaii’s most enticing island.
Forgotten by time, an anachronism in modern Hawaii, Lanai is a singular escape, a former pineapple plantation that has evolved seamlessly into the ultimate vacation destination. Instead of high-rises, stoplights, traffic jams and shopping centers, there is one small town square and easygoing people whose way of life is centered outdoors. On Lanai, 89,600 acres of countryside invite fishing, swimming, diving, hiking, hunting and riding horseback.
This means adventure coming and going, a journey of discovery even before you set foot on the island. You can fly a jet, take a ferry, or sail to Lanai by catamaran. You can stay a day or a long time. However you choose to arrive, you’ll find that getting there is half the fun, and staying there is a grand adventure.
Island Air and Mokulele/go! Airlines collectively offer several flights daily between Lanai and Maui or Oahu. On the ocean, the Expeditions ferry, certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, makes five 45-minute trips daily between Lanai’s Manele Small Boat Harbor and Maui’s Lahaina Harbor. (75-minute trips daily between Lanai and Maui’s Maalaea Harbor are temporarily suspended). These trips are fun and purposeful, with thrilling views of humpback whales in the winter and spinner dolphins all year round—and behind Kahoolawe, the summit of Mauna Kea peeking through the clouds from Hawaii Island. On land or sea, Trilogy Excursions, Lanai’s premier recreation activities operator and Maui’s oldest sailing company, offers a full menu of snorkel and scuba sails, plus land tours, private charters and special wedding sails in the waters between Maui and Lanai.
Once you arrive, the adventures expand exponentially. Will it be golf, sporting clays, archery, the spa, meandering around town, water sports, or exploring the remote beaches and abandoned villages in a 4-wheel drive? Scheduled shuttle service is available between Lanai Airport, the ferry terminal at Manele Bay, the upland Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele and the seaside Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. An inter-hotel shuttle, for Four Seasons guests, runs every half-hour between the two resorts, stopping on the way at Hotel Lanai in Lanai City.
If you plan to venture off the beaten path, Lanai City Service, an affiliate of Dollar Car Rental and Adventure Lanai EcoCentre offer either 4-wheel-drive Jeeps, Land Rovers or mini vans. Because Lanai has only 30 miles of paved road, 4-wheel drive vehicles provide the opportunity to explore the back roads, abandoned villages, and out-of-the-way points that are the historic landmarks of the island. And of course, there’s nothing like a horseback ride, bicycles, mountain bikes, and a sturdy pair of walking shoes to help you hit the trails.
Everything in Lanai City is in walking distance, bringing a remarkable feeling of accessibility to the luxury of seclusion. Customized tours to the far corners of the island, such as Polihua Beach, Keomoku village, Kaiolohia, and the historic Kaunolu, can be arranged through private tour companies with knowledgeable guides who enlighten you with fascinating history and culture.
Maui Visitors Bureau
808-244-3530 Ext. 716