Story by Lehia Apana | Photos from Four Seasons Lana’i
The Expeditions Lāna‘i ferry makes five daily round trips between Lahaina Harbor and Mānele Harbor on Lāna‘i, so planning a day trip to the former “Pineapple Island” is easy. But stay overnight at Four Seasons Resort Lāna‘i, and you’ll discover why U.S. News & World Report named it 2018’s Best Hotel in the U.S. A destination in itself, the resort is also a launching pad for exploring the island’s less-traveled attractions.
7:30 a.m. Four Seasons’ ONE FORTY restaurant overlooks legendary Hulopo‘e Beach. At night, it’s an upscale venue known for its steak and seafood. At sunup, it becomes a casual breakfast spot to fuel up for a day of exploring. Choose from the buffet or order a la carte. I recommend the seared ‘ahi Benedict—a perfect balance of light and hearty, with a spicy kick! Breakfast 6:30–11 a.m. 1 Mānele Bay Road, Lāna‘i; 808-565-2000; FourSeasons.com/Lanai
8:30–11 a.m. Thanks to the Four Seasons’ new fleet of rental vehicles, its guests no longer need to catch a shuttle to Lāna‘i City to rent wheels for the day. Instead, grab the keys to a 4×4 Jeep and head to the Stables at Koele for a 1.5-hour trail ride into the hills, through shady forests and across upland terrain that’s home to Mouflon sheep, axis deer and turkeys. After your ride, don’t leave without meeting the stable’s herd of miniature horses, who are as curious as they are cute. Bookings are through the Lāna‘i Ambassador Desk and are open to the public.
11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Note the four-wheel-drive lever—you’ll need it as you head to Kānepu‘u Preserve and Keahiakawelo (nicknamed “Garden of the Gods”). Paved roads give way to abandoned pineapple fields that can make for a thrilling and rugged half-hour ride. The 590-acre Kānepu‘u Preserve is Hawai‘i’s largest example of a native dryland forest, home to rare plants and wildlife. Within this expanse is an easy self-guided loop trail that’s adjacent to Keahiakawelo. It’s well worth a stop to see some of these natives up close.
Legends surround Keahiakawelo. One tells of Kawelo, a famous Lāna‘i kahuna (priest) who kept a fire burning at the site to protect the island. Kawelo used every piece of vegetation to keep his fire alive; hence this barren landscape. Piles of rock, and boulders big as compact cars lie strewn about, as if they had dropped from the sky. In reality, it’s wind erosion that has carved this sunburnt terrain. Heed the signs cautioning travelers not to move or stack the rocks, and leave this compelling and uncanny place as you find it. Tip: Download the Lāna‘i Guide app (LanaiGuideApp.org) to your smartphone. Created in partnership with the Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage Center, this virtual guide adds context to any exploration. Polihua Road, Lāna‘i
1 p.m. Head to ambitiously named Lāna‘i City for lunch, and choose from the town’s half-dozen or so eateries. Or grab a poke bowl and picnic provisions at Richard’s Market, then dine alfresco at the pine-tree shaded Dole Park. Stop in at the Mike Carroll Gallery—where you’ll likely meet the artist or his wife, Kathy—and see the island’s landscapes on canvas. 443 7th St., Lāna‘i City; 808-565-7122; MikeCarrollGallery.com
2:30 p.m. No Lāna‘i itinerary is complete without a visit to the crescent coastline and ombré blue waters of Hulopo‘e Beach. After a day of adventure, you may want to simply relax to the ocean’s soundtrack, but if you’re feeling energetic, borrow a mask and snorkel from the activities shack at the beach and explore the nearby coral reef and wildlife; or join a sunset yoga class. Both are complimentary for Four Seasons guests.
7:30 p.m. The open-air Nobu restaurant serves its classic Asian-style menu, as well as exclusive options using locally sourced ingredients—including island venison. Dinner is from 6 p.m., last seating at 9 p.m. 1 Mānele Bay Road, Lāna‘i; 808-565-2000; FourSeasons.com/Lanai