Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lana'i-The Sweetheart Isle

Manele Bay-Susan Summerbell Chval

  Lana’i is a two-resort Hawaiian Island where people like Bill and Melinda Gates go to get married. The posh Four Seasons Hotel overlooking Manele Bay’s tranquil white crescent beach is where I met my fellow “Un-Cruisers” waiting to board the Safari Explorer. As I strolled the graceful grounds to the beach, lovers snuggled in cabanas and sipped fruity drinks. Seeing them made me a little sorry to be traveling solo, but a dip in the deliciously warm water and a snooze under a handy umbrella washed away those cares and the stress of a long flight and ferry ride from Maui. 
Manele Bay is home to hundreds of spinner dolphin who rest here after a night of hunting. It is also a top snorkel spot. The 150-foot Safari Explorer delivered us to Shark Fin Rock off the southern coast for a morning of snorkeling among thousands of tropical fishes floating in shafts of light.
Three thousand lucky souls live on Lana’i year round in the trim village of Lana’i City located in the cooler, higher elevations in the center of the Island. An afternoon shore excursion included a stop at the Lana’i Culture and Heritage Center which houses artifacts of native Hawaiians dating back to 350 AD through the days the island was owned by Dole and cloaked in fields of pineapple.

Sweetheart Rock 
The Koele Lodge nestled in the forest above Lana’i City is modeled after a country English estate. Cruising through the property’s golf course with its spilling cascades and elaborate gardens makes it easy for one to forget about anything else going on in the world. With only 30 miles of paved road, there is little to do on Lana’i except play golf, hike, swim, fish, dive, horseback ride, or read a good book. Since the days of old, Lana’i has been a satellite of Maui and served as a playground for royals. Billionaire Larry Ellison who recently purchased 97 percent of the island appears to be carrying on that tradition.
Our last stop on Lana’i called for a stroll up 80-foot Pu’u Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock, where legend says a heartbroken warrior leaped to his death over the loss of maiden so beautiful she brought mist to the eyes of anyone who gazed upon her. He had left her in a sea cave that was washed clean in a storm sweeping the lovely wahine to her death. He built a rock monument to her and then joined her in the watery depths. Today, sweethearts come here to make their vows to a love that lasts forever.

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