Manele Bay, Hawaii
Hulopo'e Beach on the island of Lana'i, long considered one of the world's most perfect stretches of sand, lies at the base of the Four Seasons Lana'i at Manele Bay, creating a perfect union: the most exclusive man-made luxuries and the most magnificent natural setting. The resort overlooks the bay, a designated marine preserve filled with colorful fish and the occasional spinner dolphin. In fact, snorkeling and diving spots here are considered some of the finest in Hawaii, making a swim in the 70-degree water all the more tempting.
Though a dip in the sapphire water is decidedly refreshing, beachgoers will also enjoy sunbathing while sprawled on the honey-colored sands stretching across the shoreline. A stroll along the smooth sand reveals why this is considered the island's premier beach - a grass lawn, picnic tables, beach park, barbecue grills, showers and restrooms are all easily accessible.
Hulopo'e and Manele Bay have helped secure Lana'i's reputation as a premier travel destination, though the island doesn't offer a wealth of attractions aside from its natural splendor. The island was once the nation's largest pineapple plantation and part of the Dole Food Company, though today its primary industry is tourism. Still, the island is so small and untamed - only 30 miles of paved road exist - that remarkably few hotels or resorts exist outside Manele Bay. While it's no venue for theater or the arts, visitors will grow enamored with the beaches, whale and dolphin watching, the SCUBA and snorkeling opportunities, and hiking the island's remote trails. Of course, guests at the stunning Manele Bay resort may be hard-pressed to explore beyond their hotel's magnificent grounds, complete with a sparkling swimming pool, championship golf course and opulent spa.
The Lana'i Airport is serviced by Island and Royal Hawaiian Air Service, which both offer daily nonstop flights between Honolulu and Lana'i City. Charter flight services from all the islands can be booked through Hawaii Air Taxi, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Aloha Airlines, Royal Hawaiian Air Service, WT Air, Paragon Air, Mokulele Air, Marjet, Maui Air and Hawaiian Airlines. The airport is about 3 miles (a 10-minute drive) west of the city.
The Manele Bay Hotel offers shuttle service that includes transportation around the island for the length of guests' stays. If you're renting a car, Dollar Rent a Car will pick you up at the airport; use the red courtesy phone at the airport to contact them upon arrival.
Lana'i enjoys a desert ecology, which means visitors can expect warm weather all year, with highs ranging from the mid-80s F to the mid-90s F and few seasonal temperature shifts. The rainy season is January through March, and the rest of the year is generally dry. Try to plan a visit during one of the island festivals, like the July 4 Pineapple Festival or the Obon Festival to honor dead ancestors, also in July. These events feature traditional food, parades, music and entertainment.
While visitors to Lana'i can seek out a variety of lodging options, the island's premiere destination hands down is the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay. Situated above magnificent Hulop'e Beach, the resort's grounds feature exotic plants and wildlife, championship golf, archeological sites and award-winning restaurants. The exquisite guest rooms (featuring wicker or rattan furnishing, king or queen beds, and first-class amenities) all face either the manicured gardens or have waterfront views, and each features a private lanai, or balcony. If the stress of travel has gotten under your skin, indulge in one of the resort's decadent spa treatments, like the hot stone massage or the pineapple citrus body polish.
A tempting variety of dining options await Manele Bay's guests, who can experience everything from a "simple" breakfast of a Hawaiian waffle, coconut tapioca and caramelized bananas at the casual Hulopo'e Court restaurant overlooking the ocean, to a romantic dinner seated before the toasty fireplace in the dining room, indulging in fresh Lana'i venison and locally grown produce over a glass of pinot noir. If lighter fare is in order, one of the resort's lounges, such as the Kailani terrace, does well to serve up a variety of pupus, or appetizers, like the coconut shrimp in orange sauce or grilled chicken skewers served with peanut sauce, as well as live nightly entertainment.
The resort provides outstanding concierge services, so take advantage of their ability to plan day trips and activities for you, as well as help organize a car rental so you can explore independently, if necessary. Should you want more information, brochures, maps or more island guides, visit the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau at www.gohawaii.com or call them at 1-800-GO-HAWAII.
While You Are here
You're in Hawaii for goodness' sake! Take advantage of the supremely beautiful surroundings on both land and sea and explore the outdoors. A number of activities are available to Manele Bay guests for an additional fee, such as an introduction to scuba diving in the hotel pool, and certified dive trips to lava caves and underwater coral grottoes. If scuba seems a bit too intense, try your hand at snorkeling - Lana'i has been ranked as one of the world's top snorkeling sites. Because the waters here are a marine preserve, snorkelers are rewarded with sightings of a variety of underwater life, including spinner dolphins and sea turtles.
Once you've had your fill of the sea, trek inland and experience the island's many remote trails, passing the gorgeous vistas within the Hulopo'e Valley and heading up to the Koloiki Ridge, which offers a fabulous photo op of the Maunalei Valley.
To Fake That You've Been Here
Show your friends a golf ball and reminisce about the time you spent teeing off at the world-famous "Challenge at Manele" greens, overlooking the Pacific, and how you had to putt over natural gorges and ravines and never did lose that ball.
Linking for a Better Vacation
Visit the official Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay's Web site for more information: www.fourseasons.com.