I have a child who loves travel – a get out and see the world Indiana Jones type of kid. “If you want to be a good archeologist, you have to get out of the library!” This is the ethos of EBTravels. For an old man like me, I find keeping up hard and am glad the boy wants to be on the move. Keeps me young. And he’s had Hawaii’s Lanai on his bucket list, which I like to call Lar-a-dice. In 2012, or thereabouts, Larry Ellison purchased 97 percent of the place for 300 million, which is a bargain by today’s standards. Still, there are costs to owning an island. Almost ten years later, he’s upgraded the local high school, paved roads, renovated three hotels, and is working to reopen the closed Club Lanai. While at IBM, I competed against the great Satan in the tech universe and his troops (the database wars run deep), but I’ll be the first to give him credit. He appears to care for this place. Or, he’s the current caretaker of a magical land. Who rules who? Rhetorical.
Before we dive deeper, let me talk about the elephant in the room called Covid-19. Yes, this exists, additional rant is in the show notes. On this adventure, I experienced no challenges traversing the great State of Hawaii as restrictions have been eased. Before arrival, I made sure to (1) upload my vaccine card into an application and (2) certify with the airline before boarding (essential to accomplish this beforehand because the lines are long upon arrival). Getting around, I had to show my proof of vaccination at restaurants and wear a mask in tight indoor spaces. With a 90% vaccination rate, nobody complained. Fairly straightforward. Maybe, the distance dissipates the politics or two shots in the arm, booster aside, isn’t that complicated. Back home, we complain about Covid restrictions, which haven’t existed in 18 months plus, far more than necessary.
So, how do you reach this far-off land?
Some will say Hawaii is Oahu, and I somewhat agree. This part of the chain makes up approximately 90 percent of the population. What’s even stranger about my favorite islands is one could puzzle stack the others inside the ever-growing Big Island; the expansion compliments of the volcano god. Yes, through a fluke of hurricane and history leading to a destruction of a shipping port, most of the population crams itself onto a relatively small landmass. This makes the other isles unique. Kauai is considered the garden isle and teams with roosters. Maui is known for hiking. I’ve visited the others; yet, I never bothered to make the journey to the island home to less than 3,000 folks. Why? I like to call this the additional step conundrum. As many of the flights were cut during Covid, the only choices months back were the ferry from Lahaina Harbor in Maui, charter plane, or, if one is really adventurous, helicopter.
This feels like a pain compared to a simple direct flight. But considering you traveled across the world, why not? As we weighed our options, our hero billionaire came to the rescue, purchased the bankrupt Lanai Air, and included a flight from Oahu as part of the hotel stay. Now, that’s a deal. I almost wanted to scrap the gesture (the database war scars again) and build a canoe or swim. But best to bury the hatchet on this one. A short and easy flight. And, oh, what a view.
The Garden of the Gods
Paved roads are a luxury. There are two. The first takes one from the airport to Lanai City, which branches to the Four Seasons and Isle port. That’s part of the charm and glorious fun. So, we rented a Jeep from the hotel. Before venturing the dirt ways, we stopped at the local gas station for lunch. This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill picnic as the head chef at the local Four Seasons now runs the sandwich show. I was impressed. Highly recommended.
Our first destination, The Garden of the Gods is a namesake across the world. I’d say a half dozen places share the name. On Lanai, this series of lava rock formations have been carved by wind and water into various shapes. The red landscape reminds me of the Red Planet, straight from the book and movie The Martian. The stop is also home to a variety of plants and animals. But mostly, this is a perfect lunch as you can see the cliffs of insanity – my name for Molokai’s ocean cliffs – and other islands off in the distance. From here, one can journey down to the beach. Note, due to the island’s population and limited visitors you might be the only soul here. A plus. But perfect weather is required. As the wind was whipping across the rocks, we decided to leave this trip for another day.
So, we hopped in our Jeep, circled back down the dirt and winding road back through Lanai City, and diverted past the Four Season’s Wellness retreat. This weaves down the hillside, a switchback of sorts, to the end of the pavement. On the way, the scenery, like most of the island, is lush and views spectacular.
But what do you do at the end of the lane?
When the paved road ends, if you veer left, this leads to Shipwreck Beach. After some gymnastics and plodding on the path along the rock, the famed sunken vessel is about a half-mile hike. This portion of the isle is somewhat of a geological outlier. The water is relatively shallow, and the wind whips between Maui and Lanai. For centuries, this has created challenges for canoes and … yes … large vessels, hence the name. Impressive, this makes for another solid lunch spot. And, again, you’ll probably be the only soul on the beach. We were.
Outlier Island Adventures
Heading back, the other path leads to a church, Old Club Lanai, and Sugar Mill. Due to cold economics, the latter closed in the 1920s and is now a grass-covered ruin. But frankly, this part of our adventure consisted of off-roading a Jeep over rock and dirt with limited views. I did find it awesome that one could literally drive into the ocean. But, if you become carsick easy, I’d skip this and venture back to the beach, hike, or eat a third lunch. The sites are nice to cross off the to-do list; however, I think time can be spent elsewhere. Unless … you want to drive the Jeep at high speeds and go airborne. Hey, why not?
But the highlight of Lanai is to experience the perfect snorkel beach. Hulopo-e, due to the nature of Lanai itself, has few visitors. And this treasured place is protected from the wind and waves. I love to snorkel, and there are some incredible experiences across the island chain. But many of these require a boat, or one needs to be a strong swimmer – not fearing the two-mile workout. Turtle Town. Kealakekua Bay (Captain Cook’s landing). Hanauma Bay. All incredible – not to be missed. That being said, here, I could walk to the beach in the morning, throw on my snorkel gear, and swim less than a quarter-mile and be surrounded by all types of tropical fish. Finding Nemo, live edition. And again, a common trend, I’d be one of five people in the water. Also, the place has its own lover’s leap story and trail nearby. A tale of warring tribes and lost love.
I haven’t mentioned the food, the fishing, the camping, the golf, the history, the sunsets, and the stars. Yes, they twinkle in a sky with almost zero light pollution. This is a special island. To be transparent, I only write about it to hold onto my own memory, hoping others don’t flock here and spoil the landscape. Yes, one prays this remains secluded and never changes. As Dr. Jones would say, “It belongs in a museum.” But is that an option in the days of Instagram, Facebook, and ongoing selfishness? I don’t know. Make the trip, if you must, but be respectful if you do.
- The Lover’s Leap of the Islands. Every state has one of these, including Missouri. One can draw inspiration from Tom Sawyer.
- Gene Roddenberry served in the military on Hawaii during the 1950s. One has to wonder if these stars inspired a certain set of stories. Yes, to boldly go …
- I’ve written about Hawaii before, thought I’d call out Kauai.
- On Covid, I reside in the greater Nashville area, which is mired in this strange “Health Freedom” conundrum. Being a target for the anti-vax crowd for years on an unrelated matter, I know the true meaning here. This isn’t about freedom for some. But like most things in our strange, odd reality, certain topics have moved into the mainstream political sphere, where a leadership void has opened built on pettiness. Instead of saying stop, the line for normalcy moved and assumptions are subsequently made. Despite the noise in the media, getting around Hawaii is easy, limited impact. Silliness abound.
- I wish I came up with the name for the post, compliments to my better half.
- Some of this article was generated in part with my own text modeling leveraging Tensorflow and GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model. Upon generating draft language, I reviewed, edited, and revised the language to suit my own interest. I will say, this was often done for entertainment purposes. And proved more trouble than it was worth at times due to the tool’s uncanny ability to falsify information with how keyword modeling works. I’m not sure I levered a single word but still wanted to call out.