Lanai, Hawaii: Manele Bay
We asked Adam Lieberman, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own, but also those of the local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Resort. Lanai is an intimate and quiet island several miles west of Maui. Here, crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches ring the coast, which is set off by rugged red lava cliffs and misty highland forests.
Lanai City, Past and Present
Charming Lanai City is more like a very small town, a clear reminder of how the spirit of old Hawaii has been preserved on this unspoiled 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. Don’t miss the Mike Carroll Gallery, where the work of the island’s finest artists is displayed in a traditional bungalow. For lunch, join locals at Lanai ‘Ohana Poke Market, which serves the classic Hawaiian hors d’oeuvre, poke—bite-size pieces of fresh raw fish mixed with seaweed, relish, nuts, tofu, vegetables and more. Then discover the rich history of “the Pineapple Island,” once Hawaii’s largest pineapple plantation, at the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center.
Hawaii is a paradise for children, and its resorts are no exception. The complimentary Kids For All Seasons programme at Manele Bay features authentic and unique daily activities such as gecko hunts, building volcano models and lei making. Four Seasons Resort Lanai, the Lodge at Koele, offers its own array of family pursuits: Feed the fish at the Reflecting Pond, try croquet or lawn bowling, or test 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 Lanai, with only 30 miles (48 kilometres) of paved roads, there are still many wonderful places to enjoy 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 of rugged terrain on old roads that will lead you to breathtaking scenery like the Munro Trail, Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods), Polihua Beach and Kaiolohia Beach (Shipwreck Beach). Ask the Resort to pack a gourmet picnic for a private, unforgettable experience. For those who prefer, guided tours are offered.
Golf great Jack Nicklaus has designed courses throughout Hawaii, but he considers The Challenge at Manele Bay one of his finest, providing a strong challenge for pros while still being 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 that stretch across to Maui and as far as the Big Island. The unforgettable par-3 12th hole plays from one cliff to another, over 202 yards (185 metres) 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. Closed for renovations until later this year, the course features a tee shot on hole 17 that drops from a cliff to a fairway 25 storeys below. Because of its 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, expert therapists and a luxuriously tranquil setting. For a unique experience, observe the traditional ritual that precedes the 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. After a period of meditation, the leaves are washed and cleaned by hand. 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 Kevin Erving, the restaurants at Manele Bay and Koele—such as One Forty and Dining Room—showcase local ingredients whenever possible, and the finest imported ingredients when it’s not. Erving buys produce from local farmers to guarantee the freshest quality. And at the new Nobu Lanai, the first and only restaurant by famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Four Seasons, vegetables come from the Nobu Lanai farm in the up-country. Daily catches, which typically include opakapaka and Pacific snapper, are purchased from local fisherman. Guests of Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele are invited to enjoy dining privileges at both Resorts.
Swimming and Snorkelling
Named one of the world’s 10 best snorkelling spots, Hulopo‘e Bay is located just steps from the Resort. A crescent beach of soft white sand surrounds this protected marine reserve. Begin or end your day with a dip and discover Lanai’s magical underwater world, including a healthy and colourful coral reef and equally vibrant tropical fish, along with playful spinner dolphins and green turtles. To make the most of your time, take advantage of the Resort’s complimentary snorkelling equipment, which even includes prescription masks.
Vacations are the perfect time to try something new, and Lanai 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 and Lanai resident Nick Palumbo. Half-day lessons in stand-up paddling 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,” this is the most challenging of all clay-shooting sports. The Lodge at Koele operates Lanai Pine Sporting Clays, with target stands carved out of wood from the tropical jungle. You can also try your hand at archery; highly qualified instructors are available for both sports.