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For some travel destinations, you want to go and be seen. Strolling the Seine in Paris. Feeling the wind in your hair overlooking Sydney Harbour.
And sometimes, you want to go and hide – away from it all, doing nothing unless it is happy hour. Unless you plan on camping out in a nearby 3.5-star hotel with wine, fuzzy robes and bad made-for-cable movies (which, by all means, please do), I’ve got a slightly more adventurous recommendation: Hawaii’s Island of Lanai.
Typically considered too everything – too expensive, too remote, too boring (and all incorrect assumptions) – Lanai offers a pretty and affordable luxury getaway when you want to actually to do just that: get away.
What does a belle do when in hiding on a Hawaiian island?
Sitting is Mandatory
Ok, so I just finished mildly bashing the idea of hanging out at the hotel. But when it comes to each of Lanai’s three main hotels, hanging out at the hotel should be a priority. Consider the covered porches and minimalist rooms at Hotel Lanai, right in the heart of Lanai City. Built as accommodation for visiting executives of the Dole Pineapple Company that was once based there, the hotel feels more to me like a rustic lodge in Savannah. You’re nowhere near the beach, but you won’t care as you relax with a book, the only possible disturbance being a deer wandering across the lawn after dark.
The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele is even more relaxing, if such a thing is possible. More like an old Canadian hunting lodge than a Hawaiian resort, The Lodge sits on a quiet plain just out of town. Sitting and relaxing is almost mandatory at Koele: rooms have their own terraces, spacious room interiors include more sitting areas, and the public areas are very enticing, especially during happy hour. The only worry is the stress of choosing where one will consume the stack of complimentary magazines left in the room. Like I said, sitting = mandatory.
Last but certainly not least is the Four Seasons at Manele Bay, with its picture perfect view over the ocean. Belles know that while the golf course is one of the best in the world, snacking on tasty treats and lemonade at the clubhouse (which has the property’s best view, hands down) is where the real luxury lies. Manele Bay also features all of those accoutrements that one expects from a beachside Four Seasons, including spa services, a pool – with poolside service, naturally – several on-site restaurants, amenities for the kids, and an attentive staff that can make pretty much anything happen by reading your mind upon request.
While Hotel Lanai is the island’s most value-conscious accommodation, watch for packages and specials at the Four Seasons, which can make value luxury seem very achievable for most budgets.
Don’t Wear White
With only three main paved roads, you can’t see much of Lanai unless you plan on getting off the plantation, as they say. With only one gas station and one car rental counter on the island, prices are expensive ($80/day-ish). I wouldn’t plan on making it a habit, but a belle knows that getting out of town is a good thing, and in Lanai this principle holds true.
From Lanai City, you can enjoy a fabulous drive full of colorful scenery as you make your way to a massive white sand beach all to yourself, Polihua Beach. Bring lunch and sun cream and spend the day, just be sure to return before dark! Another great destination is Shipwreck beach – less a laying-around-all-day spot but worth it for photos of the eerie WWII tanker perched just on the horizon, left to rot. And don’t wear white – these roads are dusty, and red, and you will be too.
Don’t feel like doing the driving? The local company Rabeca’s Limousine Service can give you a guided tour exactly to your specifications (in SUVs, not limo’s, which would be rather uncomfortable on those bumpy roads).
Feel like getting some fresh ocean air instead? Book a seat on one of Trilogy’s daily departures to get some sun and sea; whether it’s a relaxing sunset cruise or a morning or snorkeling in Shark Fin Bay, Trilogy’s warm hospitality and value luxury prices (soft drinks and snacks, as well as equipment, are all complimentary) make will make your day great. The nice part about Triology’s Lanai departures is that the number of passengers is rather limited, giving you a very luxurious experience without breaking the bank.
Fine Foodie Finds
A Belle has got to eat, and you’ll do just fine whether you choose the truffle parmesan popcorn at happy hour or the truffle parmesan fries at dinner. (Ahem, or both.) Each of the Four Seasons as well as Hotel Lanai have excellent on site dining options, though brave belles will plan to explore some of the smaller, quieter establishments in Lanai city, such as the poke market (great for takeaway lunch picnics), a homemade calzone from Café 565, or one of the local favorites at Blue Ginger Café (which is conveniently BYOB only).
I do suggest visiting one of the two groceries stories for not one but two reasons: firstly, I always suggest visiting the grocery to learn more about a destination, and Lanai’s groceries stores do not appear to have changed much from the 1950s (and note the interesting blend of American and Asian products on the shelf). The second reason is that most hotel rooms on Lanai have refrigerators, and given the lack of amenities when you stray too far from the hotel pool means it is just practical to have some wine in the room and some snacks to take when on a day hike or driving trip. Grocery prices are very reasonable with the exception if items that weigh a lot, such as shampoo, milk, or laundry detergent – though oddly enough, this rule does not extend to beer, wine, or spirits.
Getting to Lanai requires a change of airplane at Honolulu or Maui, or catching the regular ferry service from Maui. Flights can be cheaper than the ferry if you plan far ahead, though honestly the biggest cost is getting into Hawaii, not the Lanai connection.
Once there, make use of the Four Seasons shuttle service that runs between the airport, the hotels, and Lanai City. It’s well worth leaving the hassle to someone else – especially given car rental prices.
So pack your comfortable sunglasses and sundresses, and load up the Kindle. You’ve got some sitting to do.
Today’s post made possible by Aqua Resorts.
All photos property of and by the author, used with permission.