Attractions and Activities
Despite its reputation as a giant pineapple farm, Lanai has much to offer in terms of scenic beauty. The big-time agricultural industries have been shut down since the 1980s, and the island's natural areas are being conserved.
The Garden of the Gods is a desert-like geological area featuring fiery-colored earth and boulders exposed by the wind. The area's beautiful colors seem to transform with the light, especially during the early morning and late afternoon hours.
The Munro Trail travels on a generally undeveloped road along the island's elevated central crest. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary to traverse this scenic route, which on a clear day offers a sweeping panoramic vista of most of the other islands.
The Kanepu'u Nature Preserve is land purchased by the Nature Conservancy to protect an area containing many native trees and other plant species. Take the short, self-guided nature tour.
Of Historical Interest
For such a small island, Lanai offers some very interesting old sites. Ruins of ancient settlements can be found here and there as well as more recent “antiquities” dating to plantation days.
On the southwest coast of the island can be found the well-preserved ruins of the old Hawaiian fishing village of Kaunolu, which was abandoned in the mid-1800s. The village was a favorite of King Kamehameha. There's a heiau there called Halulu and also a spot known as Kahekili's Jump. As the story goes, a ruling Maui chief named Kahekili demonstrated his bravery by jumping off the cliff here into the relatively shallow waters below. This involves clearing a 15-foot wide jutting rock shelf at the bottom, and not everyone who has attempted to duplicate Kahekili's stunt survived the experience. Please — don't try it yourself. The main hotels can probably arrange a tour of the site for you.
George C. Munro was a New Zealand ranch manager and naturalist who did much to preserve Lanai's environment. He came to the island in 1911. Among other things, he planted the Cook Island Pines found in the higher elevations. The pines collect the mountain mists and add water to the dry environment.
Lanai is home to several large groupings of petroglyphs. Those at Luahina, off Highway 440, are carved on a number of boulders on a hillside. Some of the boulders have been more recently “enhanced,” so if you see motifs depicting horses and other late introductions, those carvings are relatively recent. As with all petroglyphs, you can enjoy, but do not touch. There are also some petroglyphs in the vicinity of Shipwreck Beach, including some of the so-called “birdman” motif.
Off Route 44 on the northeast coast, you'll find the ghost town of Keomuku. The town served the sugar industry until it was abandoned in 1901. Nearby can be found the Kahea heiau.
When a railroad was built to facilitate the sugar industry, some stones from the Kahea heiau were taken for construction materials. According to legend, this desecration of a sacred site led to the failure of the project and the deterioration of the quality of the local water supply.
There aren't a lot of regularly scheduled cultural activities on Lanai, but here are a few:
The Lana'i Art and Cultural Center offers a variety of artistic classes. 565-7503
The Manele Bay Hotel and The Lodge at Koele host a visiting artist program featuring invited chefs, artists, and others. Check their Web sites for the latest schedules.
An annual Pineapple Festival is held in Lanai City each July.