Romantic Getaways: Lana’i, Hawaii
BY Blake Miller
Though your first thought for honeymooning in Hawaii may lead you to choose Maui or Kauai, newlyweds looking for a combination of adventure and relaxation should look to the small island of Lana’i. One of the five Hawaiian islands, Lana’i is also one of the least well-known (and populated—it has less than 1,200 people living on the island) making it also one of the United States’ best-kept secrets for honeymooners. Though you won’t find a bustling shopping district or nightlife scene, what you will find on Lana’i are two wholly different types of vacations. Lana’i City offers towering Cook pine trees, cool evenings, and rugged terrain that begs to be explored with a hike or horseback ride. Just seven miles away you can dig your feet in the sand or sunbathe poolside. Due to the island’s small size, accommodation options consist of just three properties: The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele (from $295 per night, fourseasons.com/koele)—a stunning lodge with dark wood paneling, oversize fireplaces, and dim lighting—and Hotel Lana’i (from $99 per night, hotellanai.com)–a quaint eleven-room inn—while down by the beach you’ll find The Four Seasons Manele Bay (from $445 per night, fourseasons.com/manelebay)—the ultimate beach honeymoon spot.
The luxurious rooms at The Four Seasons Manele Bay feature balconies offering ocean breezes.
The best way to see the island is by Jeep (your concierge can assist you in the reservation). Head past the Lodge at Koele on this four-wheel-drive trek that takes you over former pineapple fields to several trails: Munro Trail, which offers the only lookout to all five Hawaiian islands; Polihua in which you’ll pass through the Garden of the Gods, a Mars-like desert full of rock formations, to get to the completely deserted Polihua Beach; and Shipwreck Beach, which features views of the nearby islands of Moloka’i and Maui, the abandoned hull of a World War II Liberty Ship beached on the reef, and the nearby the Kukui Point petroglyphs.
Lana’i is home to two world-famous golf courses—The Challenge at Manele Bay (from $225), which sits high above the crashing surf of Hulopo’e Bay. The Jack Nicklaus-designed course lives up to its name as it challenges even the most experienced golfers with three holes on cliffs (Bill and Melinda Gates were married on the course’s signature 12th hole), which use the Pacific Ocean as the ultimate water hazard as well as tee shots over natural gorges and ravines. The Experience at Koele (from $225), designed by golf legend Greg Norman and architect Ted Robinson, is a championship course nestled in the mountains and pine trees by The Lodge at Koele and offers sweeping views of nearby Maui and Moloka’i.
Take the complimentary shuttle, which runs between both Four Seasons properties and Hotel Lana’i into the City of Lana’i (gohawaii.com/lanai). Though there’s limited shopping, the one-block stretch of town has quaint cafes including Pele’s Garden (pelesothergarden.com) and Mike Carroll Gallery (mikecarrollgallery.com) where Concord transplant Mike Carroll displays his scenic watercolor paintings of the island.
A trip to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without a catamaran sail and snorkeling. Trilogy’s (sailtrilogy.com) team—which took out the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills during a season 2 getaway—will take you for a half-day adventure touring the waters around Lana’i. You’ll then snorkel at Shark’s Cove for an hour before hopping aboard for more riding and possibly some fishing (depending on the number of people, the crew will deep-sea fish for tuna and marlin).
The beauty of Lana’i is its serene environment so don’t expect late-night dancing or bar crawls on this honeymoon. Do, however, make a reservation at Lana’i City Grille (hotellanai.com/grille). Located in Hotel Lana’i, this restaurant is packed Friday and Saturday nights and one of if not the only place on the island where you can catch live music (Fridays only) in an upbeat yet romantic setting. The food, though, is the real highlight here—fresh-caught seafood like pecan-crusted Hawaiian waloo (a flavorful butterfish).
Grab a hot toddy or glass of sparkling wine and relax fireside in the Lodge at Koele’s lobby. The couches are comfy enough to linger over drinks while listening to the piano player. Afterwards, a walk through the Lodge’s stunning gardens, which are uplit at night, serves as a romantic nightcap.
No honeymoon would be complete without a couples massage—overlooking the ocean lapping down below ($165 per person). Book a treatment for you and your new spouse in one of Manele Bay’s oceanfront cabanas where the sounds of crashing waves and the scent of a warm ocean breeze will put you and your honey at ease.
End your day by driving to Kaumalapau Harbor, the main commercial seaport for Lana’i, where you’ll experience an unobstructed view of the sunset. From December thru May, you can also spot whales swimming just beyond the harbor. And throughout the year you may catch pods of spinner dolphins splashing offshore.