It’s promoted in brochures and on Web sites as being “remote from the pressures of the outside world” where relaxation is the key. “Warm and friendly,” it offers a down-to-earth charm.

Okay, that’s all true. But it’s only the beginning.

Lanai used to be the home of the world’s largest pineapple plantation. The pineapples are gone now. The island, with all its old-world charm, has been completely transformed. It’s an exclusive retreat now, especially attractive to high-demographic vacationers who seek a break from the pressures and worries of high-end commerce.

Small though it may be (only 18 miles wide at its widest point), it boasts two Four Seasons resorts. An exotic oceanfront luxury compound rests at Manele Bay, and there’s an awesome mountaintop hunting lodge at Koele.

If you’re a golfer (or not), you have two exquisite championship golf courses to play: the Challenge at Manele Bay designed by Jack Nicklaus, and the Experience at Koele designed by Greg Norman. Both provide sublime privacy in an intimate environment, wrapped in a beautiful location of exquisite isolation.

Still, there’s not enough people activity to affect the wildlife. Birds breed freely due to Lanai’s lack of mongoose (which are known for eating bird eggs). Some you can see taking to flight around the island include the pueo (Hawaiian owl), the apapane (a native honeycreeper), pheasants, francolin, partridges, quails, doves, and even turkeys. As you explore the island, you’re likely to see axis deer, mouflon sheep, and the nearly-endangered green sea turtles.

The dining is top-drawer, with several elegant restaurants among the resorts. Don’t be surprised to find such menu items as Lanai venison, cooked tableside on a hot lava rock with an apple/celery salad on a poached fig in a red wine sauce; or seafood bouillabaisse of shrimp, lobster, mussels and clams in a vegetable broth. There are plenty of casual eateries with friendly, conversational service, too.

Lanai City is a quaint little town that maintains the charms of the past. The Mike Carroll Gallery displays a collection of notable artists’ paintings of Hawaiian scenes in impressionistic style. When Dole Pineapple was in its heyday, this was a company town. The period architecture is that of simple homes and simple living.

Hulopo’e Beach is a beautiful expanse of secluded wide white sand beach with clear water that invites bodysurfing. It’s but one of several terrific beaches.

And, by the way, the higher elevations offer views that are beyond the imagination.

So Lanai is far more than a sleepy little out-of-the-chaos island. It offers luxury and adventure even as it qualifies as a change-of-pace retreat.


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