Once again Joelle booked us through Tom Barefoot’s Tours; this time it was a private tour of Lanai in a 4×4. This was by far my favorite part of the whole trip. Our guide, Bruce Harvey, met us at the dock on Lanai with his suburban. I don’t know why everyone was complaining about the ferry to/from Lanai. It wasn’t that crowded and it’s going to be a little bouncy, you’re on the ocean.
Lanai is small and I was shocked to find out that a lot of the people who live on the island rarely explore it. From one side to the other you seem to get a hint of every climate on the planet. It’s wild. I HIGHLY recommend the all day tour. Yes, it’s a small island, but there’s plenty to see and they cut out the hard to get to places on the half day, and those are the best part.
Bruce had traveled a lot but ended up in Lanai, Hawaii, raising his son and giving tours of the tiny rock. He knew so much about the island and Hawaii it was fantastic. Everything from living in a small island community of around 3,000 to the politics of wind farming and sailboat racing.
After making a quick stop off at Hulopoe beach we were off. We got a quick tour of the town and history of its development, then up to the north coast of the island and shipwreck beach. It’s not exactly what I was expecting. There were no torn sails or skeletal pirates steering an all but demolished helm, but it was still cool…I guess.
The ship itself was a concrete oiler that was built during the end of World War 2. It was intentionally beached on the reef after the war. I said, “Maybe it had crashed due to it being made of concrete,” but I guess that’s not an issue, more a stupid statement exposing my lacking knowledge in basic ship building. It’s also not as bad for the ecosystem when beached or scuttled.
Our next stop was a short drive on a rough road up to a lookout on Maunalei Gulch. It was beautiful. The island doesn’t have many trees or much greenery, so this was refreshing view.
And here we are posing by the gulch. Wow, as much as that last line sounded like a boring family trip from the 50’s it wasn’t. Joelle looks taller than I…she wishes.
We then went back into town and walked around one of the two Four Seasons on the island, the Lodge at Koele. It was the old Pineapple Mansion back when Dole was farming the island; which makes sense as to why it’s referred to as, “The Pineapple Island.” You couldn’t tell that now. Dole is long gone and the only things that remain are strips of black plastic you see littering the island and the mansion.
If I could make a living through writing, this is where I would escape to. The hotel is beautiful! The main hall has a definite retreat/lodge feel to it. It has a game room with a pool table and a full table shuffleboard. Around the wood paneled corner is a small library looking out to the garden. I would have taken more photos, but I kind of just wanted to take it all in.
Best of all, it’s quiet…so quiet. It’s a hidden retreat, on a secluded island, in paradise. It’s surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens which are a lens’ dream and there are plenty of shady spots to read, write, relax, meditate, whatever…
I joke a lot about horrible hotel stays and nightmare vacations, and this is why. Go see how you’re supposed to run a hotel and what customers expect from a vacation destination. Once my ADD kicks in, I can get a little antsy and a small island with limited activities can enhance my condition, but not here. You know that feeling when you go on vacation and everything melts away? The Lodge at Koele is a vacation from that vacation.
Yes, I understand it’s expensive, but it’s worth it. I haven’t even stayed at the hotel, but I can tell by touring it, I wouldn’t have an issue. It’s a Four Seasons, I’m sure the service and staff are fine. You can choose the flip side and end up at the Excalibur, Las Vegas. Link to that review, here. Anywho…where were we….
Did I mention the gardens?
Oh? You looking to complete that novella or finish your newest collection of raunchy Battlestar Galactica fan fiction? Then go no further. Plop your butt down on a bench and take a look at this view off the back patio.
After a quick lunch, in town, at a little family restaurant, and a stop at an art gallery we were off again. Our first stop was at the town’s largest domestic pig. I can’t remember its name, but it seemed smug.
After, Bruce drove us out to the Garden of the Gods. I’d seen this on a map a few days before and was very intrigued; by far my favorite part of the tour. The landscape is amazing! It’s like being on another planet. I would love to film something here…something without audio; the wind is constant. It’s the reason David Murdock, the island’s previous owner, wanted to place up to 200 wind generator towers here, taking up 1/4 of the island.
I see it as an old scrooge’s last eff you to make money and destroy the island in the process. Hey, I’m all for making money but if it’s going to destroy something as beautiful as Lanai and rob my children of the chance to explore and experience it the way I did, then I don’t need the cash. This a perfect example of the very limited amount of progressive thinking American’s are willing to regurgitate these days. Murdock bought the island to make hotel money, when that wasn’t enough he sold out its residents and the raw, untouched beauty of the island to a dying industry. Larry Ellison bought the island from him to practice sailing; a more eco-friendly way to use the wind.
Wind power is ineffective, inefficient, and expensive to maintain, not to mention it would destroy twenty-five percent of the island. That’s why you don’t see a windmill in your neighbors back yard. “But how are they going to grind their grain,” you ask? I dunno, buy it in a sack from Whole Foods like everyone else. Lanai has no unemployment. Its local’s live modestly and prefer it. They don’t need the towers. They would ruin this.
On the way back I asked Bruce to stop at this forest to take some photos. I wandered off by myself, as is tradition, and found an eerie feeling creeping up my spine as I snapped photos. In the late 1700’s Kamehameha conquered the small island and slaughtered almost all of its 4000 inhabitants. This forest is haunted with the souls of those people. After taking a walk through there, I believe it.
Upon exiting the haunted forest Bruce took us to Kaumalapau Harbor, where all the pineapple boats used to load up. We saw the weekly barge on its way out and got a wonderful view cliffs along the southwest side of the island. When a high chief died one warrior would take the remains and descend the cliff on a rope. Once the remains were secure in their final resting place, in the wall of the cliff, the warrior would cut the rope and fall to his death. That way no one would know where the grave is and enemies couldn’t torture it out of anyone. Talk about a tough decision to volunteer for that gig. I struggle with which place I wanna get coffee from in the morning.
I recommend this to anyone and everyone. Take the all day tour and ask for Bruce; he’s a great guide and a huge source of knowledge you’d hope to get from a chaperon, but rarely do at this high a level.