When my plane touched down on the island of Lana’i, night had fallen. An island where the deer outnumber the locals, the dark ride to the Four Seasons was anything but. During the ride marked by only a handful of road signs, no traffic lights or streetlights, and virtually no other cars, the starry night sky was in full bloom.
Rising with the morning sun, I raise the automatic shades to reveal the floor to ceiling view, and what a view it was. I freeze in place as the morning light streams in, revealing a curvy pool, luxurious loungers, and a small army of white umbrellas strategically placed in the lush tropical oasis. I’m completely awed.
My late arrival the night before has me ready to explore. Armed with expert guidance from a Four Seasons Ambassador, I jump into a 4×4 Jeep rental. The light of day reveals a horizon of rolling hills and a mountain ridge still shrouded by morning clouds.
Down a bumpy road with dried out gullies, I drive toward Shipwreck Beach, a remote spot on the north shore. This beach gets its name from a long history of documented shipwrecks just off its shores. At the far end, I see the remains of a World War II Liberty Ship, purposely grounded here. The beach is quiet today with just a couple snorkeling on the shoreline.
Heading back, I drive through Lana’i City. Formerly, a plantation town built by Dole Food Company to house and serve their employees who worked in thousands of acres filled with pineapple plants. Back in 1994, Dole closed their remaining operations on the island. Today, the majority of the 3,200 island residents live here. A few shops and restaurants surround Dole Park.
Through vast rolling hills of green and brown earth tones, I head down an isolated dirt road toward Garden of the Gods. About midway into the drive, I discover recent rains have filled many of the potholes, some spanning the entire width of the road. Feeling the first tingle of adrenaline, I put it in low and plow through. Big splashes of red mud splatter my pristine white Jeep. After a particularly slick spot sends me on a good 90° spin, second doubts begin to invade my mind. I’m determined to proceed on my adventure, but find a few more bumper deep mud holes had to be tackled.
Without any further spins, I make it – elated to have arrived without getting stuck! Opening the door at Garden of the Gods, I’m greeted by fierce winds and a mysterious lunar landscape.
Centuries of erosion have created a sparse land populated with only boulders, rocks, and red dirt. Barely able to keep my footing, I climb to the top of the hill and look down on the valley where lush emerald slopes emerge among the reddish brown ones.
The strong winds become too much to handle, so I drive back to the Four Seasons without any difficulties – whew!
Poolside, Malibu Farm restaurant prides itself on serving only fresh, organic local ingredients. Choosing the Mahi Mahi sandwich on brioche topped with Kalamata olive aioli was the best lunch after my adventure. Devouring my tasty meal, I begin to relax and enjoy the lush plants and flowers. A beautiful setting, great food, and unparalleled service, I left with a smile on my face.
Just as the catamaran pulls away from the pier, a good-spirited ukulele player starts playing some beautiful Hawaiian tunes. Dancing along with the ocean’s rhythm, we cruise past beautiful sheer volcanic cliffs. A warm wind whispers by as the setting sun begins to more clearly reveal the island’s beauty.
With a prime view of the resort, ONE FORTY restaurant excelled across the board in every way. From the heirloom tomato and burrata starter to the mushroom-crusted monchong entree, I was impressed with every bite. A team of attentive staff was there every step, assisting me even when I didn’t realize I needed them. I can say this dining experience tops my list of best ever.
Sliding into a luxurious lounger perched on a hilltop, I’m afforded an incredible view of the ocean below. As the crashing waves provide the soundtrack, I take a moment to contemplate the beauty and serenity of the resort. The memories made on this unique island will last infinitely in my happy memory.
Exotic cultures, beautiful oceans, and urban places gets Sara Kendall racing to the airport. Sara is just as passionate about photography as she is for traveling, so you will find her writing is paired with her beautifully captured images. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and online publications including her long-standing run as a contributing travel writer for The Charlotte Observer.