The island of Lana’i is one of the smallest and least visited of Hawaii’s islands. With only 3,000 permanent residents, it has a very small-town feel and avoids the crowds and tourist trap aspects of places like Waikiki Beach. (Locals call it the Mayberry of the Pacific) It also has some of the most interesting history and scenery of any of the Hawaiian islands. I visited Lanai in March of 2011 as a guest of the Lana’i Visitors Bureau.
In some of the more exposed parts of the island, the winds are strong enough to make the trees grow sideways.
This isn't Mars. It is an area of the island known as the 'Garden of the Gods.' Only accessible by Jeep, it is mostly devoid of vegetation and exposes the oxidized red rocks and soil of the island.
The area between the islands of Maui, Lana'i, and Molokai is one of the best places in the world to watch whales. The shallow, warm waters attracts whales when they are about to give birth. I saw this whale just off the wreck on Shipwreck Beach.
Some of the largest sea cliffs in Hawaii can be seen on Lana'i.
The entire island of Lana'i was originally owned by the Dole Pineapple company to be used as a plantation. The island's only town, Lana'i City, was built to house the plantation workers. Many of the original plantation houses can be see in Lana'i City today.
In addition to whales, there are many dolphins that live off the coast of Lana'i. In this pod alone I saw over 40 dolphins.
Believe it or not, one of the biggest tourist attractions on Lana'i is deer hunting. There are twice as many deer on the island as people. The deer, known as Axis Deer, originally came from India. All deer on Lana'i today are descended from the original eight deer brought over in the mid-19th century.
One of the most distinctive features of the island are its pine trees. The pine trees are Cook Island pines which were brought to the island to help replenish the water the water table. It is estimated that each tree can condense over 200 gallons of water each day from moisture in the atmosphere.
The pine trees and grassy hills of the island can make for amazing sunsets when conditions are right.
To give you an idea of how few visitors Lana'i gets compared to Maui or Oahu, there are only three hotels on the entire island. Two of the three are run by the Four Seasons. This photo is of the Four Seasons at Manele Bay, which is famous for having been the location of Bill Gates's wedding.
All beaches in Hawaii are open to the public. Even if you are not staying at the Four Seasons, you can still relax at the beach in beautiful Manele Bay.
The Lodge at Koele is one of only three hotels on Lanai and was one of my 10 most memorable hotels from 2011.
Lanai's history is that of a pineapple plantation. While pineapples are no longer grown, evidence can still be seen of its past as a farm.