Monday, February 22, 2010

Right here in Lanai City

For the price of a whale watching cruise from Maui, you can jump on an Expeditions Ferry in Lahaina or Ma'alea and also spend a day on the island of Lanai, the former pineapple patch that now sports two fabulous resort hotels. The ride takes an hour, with sunrise on the way over and, if you time it right, sunset on the way back. In the winter and early spring you are virtually assured of numerous whale sightings.

From the newly spiffed Lanai Harbor, pay the 10 bucks and jump aboard a resort shuttle that will take you to both the beachside Four Seasons at Manele Bay and the stately Lodge at Koele, which sits like an English manor inland amid a beautiful arboretum.

In between these luxury contrivances is real-to-the-bone Lanai City, Sanford Dole's pineapple town. The pineapple fields lie fallow, but the sleepy grid of worker's cottages remain, encircling the town's signature grassy park and grand Norfolk Pines. A number of quirky, old-timey shops ring the park, and just up the rise is the Hotel Lanai. While the folksy accommodations may not be the reason to make the trip, the hotel's gourmet restaurant lures foodies from Maui.

The need to "get away from it all" may not be foremost during your vacation on Maui, but a day cruise escape to Lanai will feel like another week wedged in sideways--in a good way.  For hikes and driving tours on the island, consult your Maui Trailblazer guidebook.