Lanai Island Attractions
Main Town: Lanai CityLanai, the sixth largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, covers an area of 140sq.miles/363sq.km (18 miles/29km long, 13 miles/21km wide) and measures only half the size of Molokai Island, its closest neighbor.
Other neighboring islands lie not very far away. The west coast of Maui is a mere 71/2 miles/11km away. The 7 miles/11km-wide Kalohi Channel separates Lanai from the south coast of Molokai. Kahoolawe Island lies only 15 miles/24km further south-east.Lanai can be seen with the naked eye from both Maui and Molokai. Its shape makes it stand out like a long hump against the horizon.Lanai evolved from a single dome-shaped volcano. The island's original shape has been exaggerated by erosion.The major part of the island consists of a plateau about 1641ft/500m above sea level. The highest point is Lanaihale (3371ft/1027m) in the east of the island. The only crater basin, Palawai Beach, lies south of Lanai City.The Hawaiian word lanai means "day of conquest". Unfortunately, the background to this remains unclear. Today, Lanai is often called "Pineapple Island" after its main product, which covers most of the island.Lanai enjoys an even climate with an average temperature of 24°C and average rainfall of 291/2in./750mm - on the whole drier than neighboring islands. The natural vegetation remains only on parts of the island, particularly the deep valleys on the damp eastern side. The Norfolk pines, typical of Lanai, are grown from seed.Today about 2200 people live on Lanai, almost all in Lanai City, which was founded in the middle of the island as a settlement for plantation workers. Lanai's population reflects the ethnic mix found throughout the Hawaiian islands - Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese and whites. The one difference is that the Filipinos, who came here to work on the pineapple plantations, account for more than 50%. They are followed by the Japanese with 18%, the whites with 11% and the Hawaiians with 9%.Tourism hardly existed on the island for many years. Until 1990, Lanai City possessed only one ten-roomed hotel - the Lanai Hotel. Castle and Cooke, or Dole, who originally grew pineapples on 251/2sq.miles/66sq.km of land, has recently ventured into the tourism boom. Two luxury hotels have now been opened - the Manele Beach Resort (250 rooms) at Manele Bay in the south of the island and the Lodge at Koele in Lanai City (102 rooms). As well as the hotels leisure facilities have been developed, including a new 18-hole golf course.
Lying on the windy north coast of Lanai, this beach owes its name to the wrecked ships and boats found there. The hull of a Liberty freighter from the Second World War is the largest wreck there. Strong winds pushed vessels on to the reef here, from which there was no escape.Following road 440 from Lanai City, this area is easy to find. Up until 1 mile/1.5km from the coast, the road is made up; along the coast is a sandy track not suitable for vehicles.From here, walk for 8 miles/13km along the coast via the Garden of the Gods to Polihua Beach. The sea is shallow but dangerous here (swimming is not recommended) and often throws up shells and interesting flotsam and jetsam, which can be found when walking on the beach.
Garden of the God Lava Field
This wonderful rock garden is a geological peculiarity. Unique lava formations and blocks of rock have arisen here through thousands of years of erosion. At sunset the red earth can glow a deep red, sometimes a golden yellow color which casts its magic on the landscape.From this, the strangest garden in Hawaii, many paths lead to the coast. One leads through wasteland to Kaena Point where steep cliffs descend to the sea (adulterous Hawaiian women were banished there). Another ends at Polihua Beach which has beautiful white sand.The Garden of the Gods lies in the north-west of the island and is quite difficult to reach. It is best to use a four-wheel drive vehicle as only a small part of the road is made up. The stretch of road along the Awalua Highway is not always easy to find. From Lanai City, proceed via Fraser Avenue to a crossroads. Carry straight on to a larger crossing. Turn right and continue along this narrowing road to the next crossing. Go straight across and the Garden of the Gods is soon reached.
At the western end of the south coast lies Kaunolu, once a Hawaiian fishing village. The village enjoys particular fame as King Kamehameha I selected it for his summer residence and came here for the fishing. Today, little remains of the original Kaunolu. It has been uninhabited since about 1900, although the remains of 80 houses give the impression that it was once an important village. The large temple site Halulu Heiau and its rock drawings emphasize the previous standing of this historic place. The remains of the temple are located on the southern tip of the island in the western part of the bay.As its last inhabitant, Ohua, acting on instructions from Kamehameha V and regardless of the fact that Hawaiian religion had already been abolished some time earlier, hid the stone fish god Kunihi, which stood in the altar of a temple not far from Halulu Heiau. Ohua is said to have been put to death for damaging the stone idol, reputed to be buried in a ravine only about 328ft/100m from the temple.
The black Luahiwa rocks are difficult to reach. Follow Road 440 (Manele Road) from Lanai City in a southerly direction to Hoike Road, a gravel road.Pass two moats and, after the second, turn left and continue along the right-hand side of the moat as far as a water pipe. Continue along this conduit to the third electricity mast (bearing a "No Trespassing" sign) and then turn left. The black rocks become visible from here. This part of the route is quite bumpy. Of the many rock drawings to be seen on Lanai, those at Luahiwa are not the most extensive but they do show nearly all the known forms and symbols - from circles and other symbols to human figures. It is possible to make out kanus, barking dogs, interspersed occasionally with men on horseback. This shows that the Hawaiians were still drawing these pictures after white men discovered Hawaii and introduced horses to the islands. The rock drawings are to be found, almost without exception, on the south-east of the rocks.
Keomuku, on Lanai's eastern coast, is another village which has long been uninhabited. This plantation settlement lost its only source of income at the beginning of 1900 when the Maunalei Sugar Company's factory closed as a result of the unprofitable sugar cane industry in this area. Today, only a half-ruined church and a nearby small heiau remain, Keomuku's houses having been completely torn down in the 1970s. The stones from Kahea Heiau were used by the Maunalei Sugar Company to build a new short-lived railway. The Hawaiians saw this as the reason for the failure of the sugar business - in their opinion, the temple had been desecrated and a taboo broken. Only the ruins of the sugar company are to be seen.
Hulopoe Bay and Manele Bay
These adjoining bays in the south of Lanai are reached by leaving Lanai City on road 441.Lanai's most beautiful beach is to be found at Hulopoe Bay. A natural lava pool allows safe bathing.Manele Bay has a harbor for small boats, in which yachts on day excursions from Lahaina (Maui) moor. From here there is a beautiful view across to Kahoolawe Island. In particularly clear conditions, the snow-covered summit of the Island of Hawaii can be seen. Hulopoe Bay's crystal-clear water is very soft and generally a few degrees warmer than the sea around the other Hawaiian islands.
Lanai - Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock as it is also known, is a landmark located in Manele Bay. The legend of a grief-stricken lover who throws himself off the cliff after his love - a maiden named Pehe - drowns, gave the site its name.
Lanai - Garden of the Gods
Naha, is an abandoned old Hawaiian village which lies 6 miles/10km past Keomuku. The road, which is difficult to drive along, ends here.
Map of Lanai Island Attractions