-by Trish Friesen
Like a supermodel, Lanai is splashed in mystique. From afar she’s private and exotic; up close, she’s approachable and genuine. To be intimidated by her otherworldly beauty and seemingly hard-to-approach position is to miss one of the most unique islands in Hawaii.
I’m a lover of all things aloha, and Lanai has been at the top of my Hawaiian vacation list for awhile (read: nine years). I don’t have a very good excuse for failing to visit, either. From the West Coast, reaching Maui is an easy, direct flight, and from there, I never calculated how simple it is to take a small step over to the Private Island until my visit in September. It’s so close to Maui that some hotel staff commute, as does the Fedex truck for its once-a-week drop-offs.
I arrived by air from Oahu and hopped on the inter-island guest shuttle system—there are no cabs—past the iconic and pointy Norfolk Pines lining the road. The shuttle took me to the only car rental agency on the island, Dollar Rent-a-Car, where I picked up my Jeep for the week. You don’t need a rental car for your whole stay, but renting one for a day or two allows you to navigate the near-abandoned beaches and lunar landscapes. Plus, there are only 29 miles of paved roads covering the island’s 141 square miles, so the Jeep’s 4×4 capabilities lend themselves to the bumpy stretches leading to these stunners.
Lanai is in a unique position. It’s one of the only Hawaiian islands that’s privately owned. Back it 1922, James Dole (of pineapple fame) purchased part of the island to grow pineapples. As his business grew, so did his island holdings. For years, Lanai was known as the Pineapple Isle, at one point producing 75% of the world’s pineapples. On Shipwreck Beach—one of the remote places I took my Jeep off roading—I found beach huts built back in the “pineapple days.” These basic but dreamy Swiss Family Robinson-style structures served as family gathering places for fishing and surfing. People still use these abodes today, evidenced by the housewares hanging from the rafters and the surfboards leaning against the roofs.
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About Trip Styler: Trip Styler is a travel lifestyle website run by Vancouver-based writer and chief trip stylist (aka editor-in-chief) Trish and an intrepid team of passionate globetrotters with varying lifestyles and perspectives.