Lanai, Hawaii

What you need to know to plan a trip to Lanai, Hawaii.
By: Pam Mandel
The tiny island of Lanai is nearly all privately owned. Its recent sale to Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison made a lot of news, but the island has been private for more than a century and was once covered with pineapples farmed for the Dole Food Co. Now it’s an exclusive getaway, known for its luxury resorts and prestigious golf courses.
Hotel Lanai
Hotel Lanai

Hotel Lanai

Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority / LHP

Hawaii Tourism Authority / LHP

This little hotel in the center of Lanai City was built as a retreat for James Dole’s pineapple executives. It has vintage, plantation-style décor, with ceiling fans, Hawaiian quilts on the beds, and work by local artists on the walls. There are only 10 rooms, plus a cottage, and breakfast is included.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

Photo by: Four Seasons Hotels Limited

Four Seasons Hotels Limited

The beachfront Four Seasons has an open-air lobby and spectacular views toward the island of Maui. There’s also a spa, a pool, beach access and Hawaiian-inspired décor in the rooms and public spaces. The Four Seasons has a supervised kids program, so it’s not just a grown-up retreat. An extensive renovation is scheduled for 2015; call to check dates.
Lanai City Grille
Lanai City Grille

Lanai City Grille

Photo by: @andrewghayes

@andrewghayes

On-site at the Hotel Lanai, the Lanai City Grille is a popular night out for locals. It’s casual — there might be a game on the TV, and on some evenings, there’s live music. The menu, which features fresh, local seafood, was designed by Bev Gannon, one of the founders of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, a style designed to feature Hawaiian ingredients in modern dishes.
Nobu
Nobu

Nobu

Photo by: Nobu Restaurants

Nobu Restaurants

Nobu is synonymous with high-end, meticulously prepared sushi. At this location, it’s made using the freshest fish from Hawaiian waters. Located in the Four Seasons at Manele Bay, the restaurant has views of Hulopoe Bay. There’s a curated sake menu, too.
Blue Ginger Café
Blue Ginger Cafe

Blue Ginger Cafe

Photo by: rickh710

rickh710

For a break from the tony resorts, wander into Lanai City and get breakfast at the Blue Ginger Café. It’s a casual place favored by locals. The chefs make their own pastries, and the diner-style menu includes island additions such as Portuguese sausage or rice with your eggs.
Drive Through the Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Dana Edmunds

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Dana Edmunds

Rent a 4-wheel-drive vehicle from Dollar Rent a Car for the trip through “the place where Kawelo makes fire,” the red, rocky setting of a Hawaiian legend about a battle between 2 gods. There’s a wide stretch of beach at the end of the road with views toward the island of Molokai. It’s a great spot for a picnic, but be sure pack an extra layer of clothing — it can be very windy.
Follow the Marine Wildlife
Whale Watching in Lanai

Whale Watching in Lanai

Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

Lanai is home to one of the largest spinner dolphin pods in the world. Also, from December to May, humpback whales favor these waters for breeding and birthing their young. The waters on the western side of the island are sheltered and clear, making it a popular destination for snorkelers and divers. Trilogy Ocean Sports offers tours that depart from Manele Harbor. Make reservations.
Learn Lanai's History
Lanai Culture and Heritage Center

Lanai Culture and Heritage Center

Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Pierce M Myers Photography

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Pierce M Myers Photography

The Lanai Culture and Heritage Center shows that there’s more to the island than pineapples and tourism. Native people have occupied Lanai since around 1200. Exhibits teach visitors about the lives of the early Hawaiian people and the impact that colonization had on this once-thriving society.
Play a Round of World-Class Golf
Four Seasons The Golf Challenge at Manele

Four Seasons The Golf Challenge at Manele

Photo by: Four Seasons Hotels Limited

Four Seasons Hotels Limited

The Challenge at Manele was created by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus and has 3 holes perched on the cliffs above Hulopoe Bay. The 18-hole course offers 5 different tee locations, making it playable for golfers of all skill levels.
Ride Like a Hawaiian Cowboy
Horseback Riding Lanai

Horseback Riding Lanai

Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority / LHP

Hawaii Tourism Authority / LHP

Lanai Grand Adventures offers horseback rides for all levels, from kids and families who want a guide to private rides on the Paniolo Trail. Riding is a great way to see some of the island’s imported wildlife — including axis deer, pheasants and big-horn Mouflon sheep. The guides are experienced ranchers, easygoing and fun company for the day.
NOTE:
With the island’s new ownership, many of the attractions and services are scheduled for renovation starting in June 2015. Be sure to call ahead when you’re planning your adventures.
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