The sixth-largest of the main Hawaiian Islands, Lana’i has a land area of 140 square miles, the bulk of which is an oasis of sublime beauty. And with a population hovering around 3,200 full-time residents, the island evokes small-town charm and an omnipresent sense of family, or ohana. It is also a tightly knit community richly endowed with Hawaiian culture and tradition. Refer to our photo gallery.to see more pictures of Lana’i.
However, what really sets this island apart from the rest is a striking juxtaposition of opulence and wilderness. Once blanketed with fertile pineapple fields and winding roads lined with towering Cook Island pines, Lana’i long ago earned the title of "the pineapple isle. The once-prosperous pineapple industry was cultivated in 1922 by James D. Dole, and at its peak, supplied nearly 70 percent of the world’s pineapples.
Lana’i’s rich pineapple industry came to end nearly two decades ago, as well as the iconic Dole plantation era; however, economic conditions on the sparsely populated island have not soured. Castle & Cooke Hawaii (which owns nearly 98 percent of the island) bought out Dole in 1961 and infused Lana’i with investment capital. Breathing new life into the local economy, the company has provided employment to half of the island’s residents and ushered in a lucrative new industry: tourism.
Like many of its neighbor islands, Lana’i has taken advantage of Hawaii’s booming travel market, and it has phased in tourism as its economic mainstay. Today, the island is a quiet haven of exclusive resorts, world-class golf courses and pristine beaches. It also offers an undiluted, authentic Hawaiian experience.
Hotels and Golf Courses
Visitors are drawn to the appealing dichotomy of luxury and seclusion: a vast expanse of rugged, undeveloped land is offset by two palatial resorts The Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay and The Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, the Lodge at Koele.
Owned by Castle & Cooke Hawaii and managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the 102-room Lodge at Koele and the 236-room Manele Bay are home to two world-class golf courses, the Experience at Koele and The Challenge at Manele, respectively. These award-winning resort courses rank among the best in the world and draw golf enthusiasts from around the globe. The accolades don’t end there. The Manele Bay resort was named one of the World’s Best Places to Stay by Conde Nast traveler in 2010, and one of the 500 world’s best hotels by Travel & Leisure magazine.
For those who prefer more modest accommodations, there is the 11-room country inn, the historic Hotel Lana’i and Lana’i City Grille. Located in the heart of Lana’i City, the inn is a stone’s throw from Dole park town Square, an enclave of charming shops and restaurants, most of which are independent and locally owned.
In the heart of Lana’i City, you will find the headquarters of Castle & Cooke Resorts, as well as the Lana’i Culture & Heritage Center, which exhibits historic images and artifacts "of traditional, cultural, historical and artistic value to the people and island of Lana’i."
The residential and commercial hub is also home to the island’s only nationally affiliated rental car agency, where travelers can rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle to go "off-road" and explore areas such as the Koloiki Ridge trail, Kaunolu Reserve, Lana’i pine archery and the "Garden of the Gods," an awe-inspiring rock garden that lives up to its name.
With the intent to support life and industry on the island, Castle & Cooke, Hawaii developed the 1.2-megawatt La Ola solar farm, Hawaii’s largest solar photovoltaic farm. La Ola now generates up to 30% of the power to meet Lanai’s peak time electric needs.
While it may appear to be the premier destination for world travelers who crave a "private island" experience, there is another force at work behind the scenes on Lana’i and its foray into sustainability may not end there.
Until then, tourism will continue to be the top economic driver for Lana’i and that comes as no surprise, as the intimacy of this small, private island is certain to capture the hearts of visitors for generations to come.