En route to Lana’i, Maui receding
SOMETIMES I LIKE TO GO PLACES just to see what’s there, and an island rising mysteriously out of the Pacific mists begs to be explored. On Sunday, my daughter and I took a 9:15 ferry from Maui to Lana’i. In just under an hour, accompanied partway by a pod of spinner dolphins, we were on an almost completely undeveloped island (except for two luxury resorts owned by the Four Seasons) that used to be a Dole pineapple plantation before the industry moved elsewhere.
First we set ourselves up on Hulopo’e Beach, above, near the ferry dock, and did a bit of snorkeling. About 100 yards offshore, there’s an extensive reef populated with neon-colored fish. I was most excited about a huge school of convict tangs, below (not my pic), feeding off the coral. So glad I remembered my contact lenses! The water, as ever, was the perfect temperature, the waves gentle.
Lana’i’s population is 2,800, almost all in the central settlement of Lana’i City, which we reached by shuttle bus — a distance of about 4 miles over hills more scrubby than lush, and completely devoid of signs of human habitation. Built around a rectangular park filled with Norfolk pines, below, the so-called city is made up mostly of tin-roofed, plantation-style cottages that look to be from the 1940s or earlier.
Those immediately surrounding the park contain all a city needs, including a bank, theatre (below), gym, cultural center, and post office, plus several cafes and gift shops, and one incongruously chic clothing boutique.
We had lunch at a diner-style cafe called Pele’s (yellow building above), washed down with Maui’s Big Swell India pale ale, and looked in to the vintage Hotel L’anai, below.
It took an hour to explore Lana’i City, marveling at how anyone could live in so remote a place, after which we shuttled back downhill. While passing through the Four Seasons hotel property, below, on our way back to the ferry landing for a 4:15 boat, we spied a couple of vacant chaises with sun roofs overlooking Hulopo’e Bay, and fell asleep.