Lanai is an intimate and quiet island several miles west of Maui. Here, crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches ring the coast, which is set off by rugged red lava cliffs and misty highland forests. To help plan your next trip, we asked Annalyn Alcantara, Lanai Ambassador at Four Seasons Resort Lanai, to share her tips for experiencing the best of island’s adventure, culture and romance.
Lanai City, past and present
Charming Lanai City is more like a very small town, a clear reminder of how the spirit of old Hawaii has been preserved on this unspoiled island. Just a handful of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants surround Dole Park, where you can shop for fashionable island apparel, souvenirs and art. Don’t miss the Mike Carroll Gallery, where the work of the island’s finest artists is displayed in a traditional bungalow. For lunch, join locals at Lanai ‘Ohana Poke Market, which serves the classic Hawaiian hors d’oeuvre, poke – bite-size pieces of fresh raw fish mixed with seaweed, relish, nuts, tofu, vegetables and more. Then discover the rich history of “the Pineapple Island,” once Hawaii’s largest pineapple plantation, at the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center.
Hawaii is a paradise for children, and its resorts are no exception. The complimentary Kids For All Seasons program at Lana’i features authentic and unique daily activities such as gecko hunts, building volcano models and lei making.
In most of the state, the ultimate Hawaiian fantasy of a private beach is just that: a fantasy. But on Lanai, with only 30 miles (48 kilometres) of paved roads, there are still many wonderful places to enjoy alone. The island is one of the best places in the world to rent a 4×4 for off-roading, a must-try activity. Explore miles of rugged terrain on old roads that will lead you to breathtaking scenery like the Munro Trail, Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods), Polihua Beach and Kaiolohia Beach (Shipwreck Beach). Ask the Resort to pack a gourmet picnic for a private, unforgettable experience. For those who prefer, guided tours are offered.
Jack Nicklaus has designed courses throughout Hawaii, but he considers Manele Golf Course one of his finest, providing a strong challenge for pros while still being ideal for a round with friends. Overlooking the Pacific from a cliff-top setting, the Nicklaus Signature course has the most ocean exposure of any in the state, with views that stretch across to Maui and as far as the Big Island. The unforgettable par-3 12th hole plays from one cliff to another, 200 yards (183 metres) of ocean abyss.
The Spa offers more than just authentic Hawaiian treatments, expert therapists and a luxuriously tranquil setting. For a unique experience, observe the traditional ritual that precedes the ki pola ho’olu, or cooling ti-leaf wrap. Twenty-four hours before your treatment, your therapist will carefully select six fresh ti leaves from the Resort’s extensive botanical gardens, and then ask the land for permission to pick them. After a period of meditation, the leaves are washed and cleaned by hand. Enjoy this calming, aromatic wrap, which begins with wild algae, aloe vera and green tea gel, followed by a calming overlay of fresh ti leaves. Perfect for those "kissed" by the Hulopoe Beach sun.
Take a custom guided 4x4 offroading tour. Drive through the forests and trails as you learn about the diverse landscapes, history and natural environment or escape on horseback into the hills surrounding Koele, once the center of ranching operations. Experience Lanai by bicycle with a guided downhill road tour or rent mountain bikes and peddle over red dirt roads. Take a sunrise hike to Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock) for stunning views of Haleakala Volcano, or try the more challenging Kapihaʻa (Fisherman’s) Trail that provides a cliffside hike over the Pacific. Explore further afield, including the Koloiki Ridge (part of the 11-mile Munro Trail), with guided or self-guided tours.
Under the watchful eye of excellent chefs, the restaurants showcase local ingredients whenever possible, and the finest imported ingredients when it’s not. Produce is bought from local farmers to guarantee the freshest quality. And at Nobu Lanai, the first restaurant by famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Four Seasons, vegetables come from the Nobu Lanai farm in the up-country. Daily catches, which typically include opakapaka and Pacific snapper, are purchased from local fisherman.
Swimming and snorkelling
Named one of the world’s 10 best snorkelling spots, Hulopoe Bay is located just steps from the Resort. A crescent beach of soft white sand surrounds this protected marine reserve. Begin or end your day with a dip and discover Lanai’s magical underwater world, including a healthy and colorful coral reef and equally vibrant tropical fish, along with playful spinner dolphins and green turtles. To make the most of your time, take advantage of the Resort’s complimentary snorkelling equipment, which even includes prescription masks.
Learn Hawaiian culture
Join Aunty Irene and Uncle Bully, the kupuna, or elders, who lead the complimentary Hookipa Cultural Program, and learn how to weave ti and coconut leaves, partake in a lei-making lesson, play the ukulele (introduced by the Portuguese) or take a private hula lesson.
Up, up and away
Get a bird’s-eye view of Lanai and surrounding islands in an ultra-modern helicopter, affording vistas of coastline, mountaintops, waterfalls and wild game. Choose from a variety of tours of varying lengths and islands, custom-craft your own Four Seasons Hawaii Charter Experience or learn to fly a plane with excursions designed to provide novice pilots with the opportunity to learn and perform basic flight maneuvers including take off, cruise and land.