Breeching humpback whale.

Breeching humpback whale. Photo: Richard Remington via Trover

A visit to Lanai can take you closer to the wild Hawaii spirit. In the winter months, visitors often witness the crashing abandon of Humpback whales on the ferry ride over from Maui. Thousands of the whales visit the islands on their annual migration. It’s not easy to get a shot as they jump and splash. This picture took Richard Remington four days to get but it also captures the stunning effort of the mammoth whales.
Getting around Lana’i
Snorkelers and divers often visit Hulopo’e Bay by charter boat and there are over 30 dive sites on the island. A short walk from the ferry building, is Manele beach and the storied Sweetheart Rock, Pu’upehe. Both are popular spots on day trips. Getting around by shuttle is simple as it stops between beach, town, the Four Seasons resort and the small ferry terminal throughout the day.
Lanai road

Traveling along the main road crossing the Lana’i crater on the way to town. Photo: Bill Dillard via Trover.

If there’s more time, adventurous travelers can rent jeeps in town and set off to explore the far corners of the island. That is unless the weather floods the dirt roads turning them into dangerous, clay slip. We ran into that problem even though it hadn’t rained for days before we arrived.
Lanai jeep in the mud
Sadly, the road was closed to the Garden of the Gods with its legendary rock formations and the western hill trails. We were still able to traverse the island, passing clutches of wild turkeys, pass thick groves where hunters help keep the Axis deer population in bounds and descended through an ancient volcanic playground of boulders. Finally we wound along the beach groves to the end of the road where a carved stone marked, Shipwreck Beach.
Lanai lava formations

Lanai lava fields on the way to Shipwreck Beach.

Lanai Signpost

Lana'i feral cat

A feral cat spied on our way to Shipwreck Beach

Wild Lanai Turkeys

Wild Lanai turkeys are spied around the island.

Very little of a big history
Before Western contact the Hawaiians settled along the windward shore. A protected reef made fishing plentiful. Fresh water was found in little valleys and seeps along the shore. Remains of the early home, and ceremonial sites, along with petroglyphs, can still be found in the area.
Lanai Petroglyphs

Lanai Petroglyphs. Photo by Richard Remington via Trover

The winds once drove canoes onto the reefs. Since the 1820’s there have been many shipwrecks in the area. U.S. agencies placed an unmanned lighthouse on the shore. It’s gone now. What’s made the beach most famous is an outsized, man-made profile that sits motionless on the off shore reef. In the mid-1950’s the U.S. Navy planned to sink the large, ferro-cement tanker in the deep waters but it broke loose to wash onto the reef near Kaha’ulehale. Today the monolith remains as a surreal photo opportunity for those willing to tackle the road and hike to the viewpoint or beyond. It’s a solitary and dangerous place but we were lucky to explore it later at our hotel by watching a fly-over documentary about the wreck.
Shipwreck Beach, Lanai

Shipwreck Beach, Lanai

When I return to Lanai I hope to experience more of wild Hawaii.
On the list is:
  • Wandering between the boulders in the Garden of the Gods
  • Hiking the Munro Trail to the lookout
  • Diving in Kaumalapa’u Harbor.

That is, of course, if the gods of weather and the winds permit.

Wild Hawaii
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