Lana’i, Hawaii: Manele Bay
We asked Pamela Haban, Concierge and Manager of Kids for All Seasons at Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i at Manele Bay, to gather the savviest sightseeing suggestions she could find—not just her own but also those of the local connoisseurs, including some she works with every day at the Hotel. Lana‘i, a small, quiet island several miles west of Maui, offers crystal-clear waters and fine white sand beaches ringing the coast, set off by rugged red lava cliffs and misty highland forests.
Lana‘i City, Past and Present
Charming Lana‘i City is more like a very small town, a clear reminder of how the spirit of old Hawaii has been preserved on this unspoiled little island. Just a handful of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants surround Dole Park, where you can shop for fashionable island apparel, souvenirs and art. Do not miss Mike Carroll’s gallery and studio displaying the work of the island’s finest artists in a traditional bungalow. For lunch, join locals at Lana‘i ‘Ohana Poke Market, serving up the classic Hawaiian hors d’oeuvres—poke: bite-size pieces of raw, fresh fish mixed with seaweed and relish, nuts, tofu, vegetables and more. Then discover the rich history of “the Pineapple Island,” once Hawaii’s largest pineapple plantation, at the Lana‘i Culture and Heritage Center.
Hawaii is a paradise for children, and the twin resorts are no exception. At Manele Bay the complimentary Kids For All Seasons programme features authentic and unique daily activities such as gecko hunts, karaoke contests, lei making and much more. Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i Lodge at Koele offers its own array of family pursuits, feeding the fish at the Reflecting Pond, playing croquet or lawn bowling, or trying the greens at the executive putting course.
In most of the state, the ultimate Hawaiian fantasy of a private beach is just that, a fantasy. But on Lana‘i, with just 30 miles of paved roads, there are still lots of wonderful places to find yourself alone. The island is one of the best places in the world to rent a 4×4 for off-roading, a must-try activity. Explore miles and miles of rugged terrain on old roads, reaching breathtaking scenery like the Munro Trail, Garden of the Gods, Polihua Beach and Shipwreck Beach. Either Four Seasons Resort will pack a picnic for a private, unforgettable experience, or, for those who prefer, guided tours are offered.
Golf great Jack Nicklaus has designed courses in Hawaii, but he considers The Challenge at Manele Bay one of his finest, providing a strong challenge for pros while still be ideal for a round with friends. Overlooking the Pacific from a cliff-top setting, the course has the most ocean exposure of any in the state, with views across to Maui, of whales breaching, and as far as the Big Island. The unforgettable par-3 12th hole plays from one cliff to another, 202 yards of ocean abyss. Not to be outdone, The Experience at Koele sits inland on rugged, mountainous terrain 2,000 feet (610 metres) above sea level, in a radically different, fog-shrouded ecosystem of towering pines and massive elevation changes. On 17, the tee shot drops from a cliff to a fairway 25 storeys below. Thanks to the cooler weather, the Experience is the only course in Hawaii that can maintain bent grass greens, widely considered the finest putting surface on Earth.
The Spa at Manele Bay offers more than just authentic Hawaiian treatments and expert therapists in a setting of tranquil luxury. For a unique experience, observe the traditional ritual that precedes your ki pola ho’olu, or cooling ti-leaf wrap. Twenty-four hours before your treatment, your therapist will carefully select six live ti leaves from the Resort’s extensive Hawaiian Garden, and then ask the land for permission to pick them. A meditation ritual follows, before the leaves are washed and cleaned by hand. Then you enjoy this calming, aromatic wrap, which begins with lavender-infused aloe vera gel, followed by an overlay of the fresh ti-leaves. Your body is wrapped to improve hydration while pressure points are stimulated on your face and scalp.
Under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Fabrice Huet, the restaurants at Manele Bay and Koele—such as Hulopo`e Court and Dining Room—showcase the freshest quality local ingredients whenever possible—and the finest imported ingredients when it’s not. Chef Huet buys produce from local farmers and fisherman to guarantee the freshest quality produce, picked in its prime. Vegetables come from Bennie’s Farm on Lana‘i and the daily ocean catches, which typically include opakapaka and Pacific Snapper, are purchased from local fisherman.
Swimming and Snorkelling
Simply do not miss Hulopo`e Bay. Just steps from the Resort at Manele Bay, a crescent beach of perfectly sugary-white, soft sand surrounds this protected marine reserve teeming with underwater life. Begin or end your day with a dip and discover Lana‘i’s magical underwater world, including a healthy and colourful coral reef, and equally colourful reef fish, alongside playful spinner dolphins and green turtles. To add to your enjoyment of a spot named one of the world’s 10 best snorkelling choices, complimentary use of snorkelling equipment even includes prescription masks.
Vacations are the perfect chance to try something new, and Lana‘i offers plenty of options. Experience a sport once reserved only for the Ali‘i (Hawaiian chiefs), with a half-day private surfing lesson from champion surfer Nick Palumbo, a Lana‘i resident. Even rank beginners can learn on longboards, and half-day lessons in the hot sport of the moment, stand-up paddleboarding, are also available. Then take off on a 4×4 safari adventure to a secluded surf spot, with a stop at historic Keomoku Village. For something completely different, try sporting clays, often called “golf with a gun,” the most challenging of all clay shooting sports. The Lodge at Koele operates Lana‘i Pine Sporting Clays & Archery, with target stands carved from the tropical jungle, one of the most beautiful in the world. As the name suggests, you can also try archery, and highly qualified instructors are available for both.