Hawaii Stories

Adventure

Lanai for Lovers

Romance is in the air on Hawaii's smallest inhabited island

lanai sunset
Only nine miles from Maui and yet a million mind miles away. As the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii with only 3,100 residents across its 141 square miles, Lanai’s intimate feel is made for lovers. Whether a honeymoon, a special anniversary, or to tie the knot, there are dozens of more ways to find romance on Lanai than there are miles of paved road.

1.    Wedding or Vow Renewal. If the thought of planning a big, over-the-top, traditional wedding makes you squirm, Lanai has the solution for you. Say, “I do” on the beach. No shoes required. Or, choose a dramatic ocean bluff location to make your commitment. And if you’re celebrating a milestone anniversary, say, “I do” all over again with a special Hawaiian vow renewal ceremony. The wedding consultants at the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay will organize the flowers, music, and photographer, and recommend some signature Hawaii-style touches for a ceremony you won’t forget.

ginger lei

2.    Fine Art. Maybe you hiked Puu Pehe—Sweetheart Rock—with your lover at sunrise. Maybe you and your new husband snorkeled with dolphins at Hulopoe Bay. Perhaps you shot par on the signature 12th hole of The Challenge at Manele. On Lanai, dozens of settings and moments conspire to create lifetime memories. One way to honor your experiences on Lanai—and the great love of your life—is with an original work of art by celebrated local artist Mike Carroll. Mike’s oil paintings capture the special light and feeling of Hawaii’s most enticing island, from beach to barn, pineapple to palm, and harbor to hula. Or if you have your own special view of Lanai, Mike will paint your own one-of-a-kind original.

3.    Horseback Riding. With only 30 miles of paved roads, Lanai beckons for off-road exploration. One of the most intimate ways to do so is on horseback. A private ride with Stables at Ko'ele allows you to meander or gallop from sight to sight—from meadow to mountain summit and from scenic bluffs to cool forests—atop mounts as professional as your cowboy-guide who will share as much—or as little—island history as you’d like. If you’re a little bit “horsey” you know your way around a saddle, you can give your horse a workout. For the less adventurous, trail rides and romantic private carriage rides are available.

horseback riding

4.    Native Forest. There was a time when nearly all of Lanai’s 141 square miles of land was planted in pineapple, giving rise to the island’s fruity nickname—the Pineapple Island. That’s why it’s surprising a 590-acre tract of land was spared. Kanepuu Preserve is the largest extant dryland forest in the state. Just six miles northwest of Lanai City, visitors can walk a short, self-guided loop and see more than 45 native plant species, some found here and no where else in the world. The preserve is protected by the Nature Conservancy and provides a glimpse into a rare native ecosystem.

5.    Sunset Sail. Not much more says romance than sailing on the ocean. Three days a week, Trilogy sets sail for two-hours on a 51-foot sailing catamaran that are timed to culminate with Hawaii’s famous sunsets. Toast your love with adult beverages and nibble on hot and cold appetizers as you watch the sun paint its own masterpiece in the canvas of the sky. You’re almost guaranteed to see a resident pod of Hawaiian spinner dolphins, and, during winter, you may witness a humpback whale calf learn how to propel its body out of the water for the very first time.

whale breaching

6.    Simply Delicious. Sometimes all you want is a simple meal. At Lanai Ohana Poke Market, simple doesn't mean boring. Oh, no. Here, try Hawaii’s quintessential fish dish—poke. At its simplest, poke is raw fish that’s cut in cubes to which green onions, seaweed, sea salt and sesame oil is added. But that’s just the start of the poke magic at this Lanai restaurant with a state-wide reputation. There’s also spicy ahi poke, furikake poke, maui onion poke, shoyu poke, shrimp poke, and even some cooked foods. Pick up your poke to go and enjoy it with a side of sunset at Kaumalapu Harbor.

lanai sunset

7.    SCUBA.  There could be fewer milestones to share with a loved one than learning how to scuba dive. But for those who are already certified, one of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets is the great diving off Lanai. One particular dive spot—Cathedrals—seems made for couples. Light streams through the sides of this porous, 100-foot-long underwater lava tube as if it’s streaming through the stained glass windows of a church. The natural phenomenon is so impressive that it’s inspired more than one underwater wedding and wedding proposal.

scuba underwater

8.    Couples Massage. Hawaiians knew how to play (surf) and work (build rock walls) hard. They also knew how to take care of their bodies. Lomilomi, a healing art that incorporates massage, is truly a unique Hawaiian experience that every visit to the Islands should include—right up there with surfing and poi! The Spa at Manele Bay offers a variety of lomilomi services for one or couples at their recently refurbished luxury spa—or if you’re staying at the Four Seasons Lanai, in the privacy of your room. Many of the spa’s services incorporate island ingredients, such as cooling ti wraps, moisturizing kukui oils, and body scrubs of macadamia and sugar.

9.    Picnic on the Beach. For the more adventurous couples at heart—who also know how to navigate a few bumps in the road—there are over 400 miles of 4WD roads on Lanai. Pick up a picnic lunch from Blue Ginger Café in Lanai City and head north to the two-mile beach of Polihua, where you just may find you have the beach all to yourself—with the possible exception of a few basking sea turtles. (Please remember Hawaii’s sea turtles are endangered, so do not touch or disturb them.) Offshore, during winter, it’s not unusual to see breaching Humpback whales. Due to currents, this is not a recommended swimming beach.

4-wheeler off-road

10.    Local Entertainment. Every Friday evening from 7:00 to 10:00 pm, the Great Hall at the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay transforms into a lounge-like setting where local musicians perform. Enjoy an after-dinner drink and get to know what Hawaiian music really is. Sure, there’s an ukulele and slack key guitar—maybe even steel guitar—but the stories between the songs are as musical and entertaining as the songs themselves. It’s the people who make Hawaiian music. This experience could open up a genre of music for you that you knew existed but never really knew.

guitar player

Story By Kim Steutermann Rogers

Photos By Kim Steutermann Rogers

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