Much has changed on Lanai in the past
decade. The pineapples are gone, the plantations transplanted to
the Philippines and Malaysia. Thousands of acres of grasses and
brush cover the Palawai central plain, which is the eroded crater
floor of the volcano that formed the island a million years
Tourism is now
Lanai's economic lifeline -- not any old tourism but the luxurious,
Four Seasons variety. The brand manages the 102-room Lodge at Koele
and the 236-room Manele Bay Hotel.
Manele Bay's units
lie in low-rise, green-roofed elegance on the shores of
crescent-shaped Manele Bay, where coastal hiking trails start at
guest room doors.
The Lodge at Koele
inhabits the cooler, upcountry base of Lanaihale, the central ridge
that leads to the island's 3,340-foot summit.
The eight-mile dirt
road that climbs Lanaihale is accessible by rented Jeep. The ride
is one of several off-road adventures that offer sweeping,
panoramic views of the neighboring islands of Molokai, Maui and
Other scenic routes
take visitors to Garden of the Gods, a rocky, Badlands-like
landscape on the western end of the Palawai Basin, or wind their
way to the north coast.
There, visitors can
put the Jeep into four-wheel drive and head to Shipwreck Beach,
named for the wave-battered, rusting hull of a cargo ship that went
aground on the coastal reef decades ago.
At the north coast,
there's easy coastal hiking and several places to take a
offer escorted adventures on Lanai. EcoAdventure Lanai offers
kayaking, hiking and bicycling adventures as well as Jeep rentals.
Lanai Surf School & Safari provides history tours in
conjunction with its surfing lessons.
There are more
genteel activities on Lanai, too. The Lodge at Koele offers
sporting clays, with a 14-station range that welcomes novice and
skilled shooters; lawn bowling; croquet; and horseback rides from
the adjacent stables.
At Manele Bay,
there are tennis courts and a spa.
Both Four Seasons
resorts have golf courses: the Challenge at Manele, on beautifully
landscaped coastal acres, and the Experience at Koele, which covers
hilly, forested terrain.
The readers of
Conde Nast Traveler magazine recently voted the Lodge at Koele the
best golf resort in the world. Manele Bay came in third.
Manele Bay, which
has been flying the Four Seasons flag for about a year, gets my
vote as Hawaii's most beautifully landscaped property, rife with
flowers in exquisitely maintained, themed gardens.
The grounds are
also home to the remains of an ancient heiau, or Hawaiian temple,
on a slight rise overlooking Manele Beach.
Manele Bay and
adjacent Hulopoe are protected marine preserves. Hulopoe's small
harbor is a departure point for catamaran and raft runs along
Lanai's unpopulated south coast, where sea cliffs rise more than
1,000 feet and luminously blue waters have attracted fishermen
since Polynesian times.
operates day-trip catamaran tours to Lanai inbound from Maui, about
nine miles to the east.
The Lodge at Koele
provides a unique accommodations alternative in Hawaii. Located at
an elevation of about 1,500 feet, it is cool at night and has a
rustic feel suited to a mountain lodge. There are two grand
fireplaces in the elegant grand room to ward off the
The grounds are as
beautiful as Manele Bay's, with broad expanses of lawn, gigantic
trees and a winding path that is great for jogs or
The two hotels
offer a total of four dining options. A shuttle links the hotels
throughout the day, which enables guests at Manele Bay to enjoy a
meal at the Lodge and vice versa.
Al fresco dining at
Manele Bay is recommended. Off property, the rustic dining room at
the Hotel Lanai is an excellent choice.
The Four Seasons
shuttle also provides transfers to guests arriving by plane and
boat. Island Air provides service to Lanai direct from Maui and
Oahu. Transfers in and out of Lanai Airport are quick and easy.
Check-in and security took about five minutes each way for my
Island Air flight.
information, contact the Lanai Visitors Bureau at (800) 947-4774 or
www.visitlanai.net. For Four Seasons Resorts Lanai,
call (800) 332-3442 or visit www.fourseasons.com. For Island Air, call (800)
323-3345 or visit www.islandair.com.
contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].