On an exceptionally clear day from the Kohala Mountain Road, or any of my property listings in the Puakea area near Hawi, North Kohala, looking to the left of the island of Maui I can make out the island of Lana’i.
Maui is visible from the Hawi area most days; once in a while we see Lana’i and Kaho’olawe to the left
Which Hawaiian Island to Choose?
Some of my Mainland friends were surprised that instead of going to Switzerland or Sonoma for vacation, this year we decided to leave our laid-back, rural island for an even more laid-back, rural island about 70 nautical or air miles away.
One of the advantages of the Hawaii Life website is that you can search for real estate on any of the islands. That’s useful because if you are thinking about moving to Hawai’i or buying a vacation/second home here, your first decision is which island?
Which island is not so much a geographical choice as a lifestyle choice, and that was also true of our decision to vacation on Lana’i. Whether you are considering a vacation on the island of Lana’i…or fall in love with it and want to know about real estate options there…the lifestyle considerations will be, for some, its charms and for others, its limitations.Probably best known as the island where Bill and Melinda Gates chose to get married, for those of us who live on other Hawai’ian islands, Lana’i is similarly thought of as a “special occasion” destination. My special occasion was feeling so burnt out I was behaving like a snapping turtle and wanting to make the most of a week-long, too-short escape.
Traveling To Lana’i
Traveling from the Big Island to Lana’i by commercial transportation is inconvenient (no direct commercial flights). The two choices are:
- To fly from Kona to Lana’i City by flying to Honolulu and then back-tracking on a connecting flight
- Flying to Maui, then traveling by land to Lahaina, followed by taking a ferry to Lana’i
If you are coming from the Mainland, you similarly will need to find a direct flight to Oahu or Maui and then connect to Lanai from there.
We had another option. This vacation idea began when my husband sailed from Kawaihae with the friend whose boat he crews on every Sunday. The Alenuihaha Channel is notoriously difficult to cross…and although the sail over was uneventful, the weather changed and they were stranded on Lana’i (ahhhh…). Finally, they decided to leave the boat and fly home pending better weather.
The good news is they found a pilot willing to fly, pick them up on Lanai, and fly directly home to Upolu Airport…so for our vacation we opted to hire the same plane. In less time than the hour it would have taken us to drive from our home in Hawi to Kona Airport, we made it from our Big Island home to Lana’i Airport!
Hotels on Lana’i
Vacationers have a choice of three hotels:
- The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele
- The Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay
- The Hotel Lanai in Lanai City
Shuttles run between the three locations, Koele-Lanai City-Manele in less than 30 minutes. The rest of the island is basically undeveloped and best explored by jeep or ATV. For the romantically inclined, think of Lana’i as an island in Fiji, only a lot easier to get to. For the easily bored, you can take the 45-minute ferry from Lana’i to Lahaina, Maui, but if immediate access to shopping, restaurants, and movie theaters are a “must” for you, this is probably not “your” island.
The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele:
Our first stop was the Lodge at Koele, which gave us the feeling that we had gone to Switzerland or Sonoma! Located upcountry at an elevation of 1,800′, the Lodge has a great room with huge fireplaces and the tallest Christmas tree I’ve seen since the last time I was in Rockefeller Center in December.
The resort restaurants feature venison dishes from local deer…although the turkey was clearly farm-raised. If you know how to make your own fun, you can do very well at Koele. Some of the resort’s activities include:
- Horseback riding
- A shooting range
- Lawn bowling
- Mountain biking
- Dancing to a local band at the Hotel Lanai’s Lanai City Bar and Grille on Saturday night
- Heated pool and hot tub at the Lodge
The Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay
The second half of our vacation was spent enjoying water sports (well, to be truthful, mostly the beach side lounges and poolside cocktails) at the Manele Bay Resort. We were too early to see whales, but watched spinner dolphins frolic in a huge school for an entire morning. I don’t think you want to know what color my toenails are after one of the best pedicures of my life…but seriously, I was on vacation and it IS the holiday season!
Most importantly, I ended the week feeling incredibly refreshed. So much so that I spent the afternoon before our return in the company of the principal broker of Island of Lanai Properties familiarizing myself with the inventory of real estate for sale on Lana’i. One could superimpose the exact area of my Big Island real estate focus (Hualalai to Hawi) on the luxury communities of Manele and Koele on Lana’i, but that will have to be the subject of another blog post.
A hui hou,
Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)