Hawaii UnCruise – Lanai

Bridge of the Safari Explorer
Keith talking to the Captain on the bridge.

After leaving Molokai we sailed for the island of Lanai. The distance between the two islands is only about 20 miles, so this wasn’t a long transit. One of the very different things about cruising with Safari Explorer is the open door policy on the bridge. If you go to the bridge and the door is open then cruisers are welcome at go on the bridge and talk to the crew there, look at the charts to see where we are going  and use the binoculars to scan for whales or other wildlife. If the door is closed, the crew needs to concentrate and you should come by again later. This is very different than other Cruise ships where the bridge is off limits at all times. We visited the bridge often and enjoyed visiting with the crew.

PineappleWhen you think of Hawaii many people think of pineapple. I always find that interesting because pineapple isn’t native to Hawaii, it is native to South America, Central America, the islands of the Caribbean and Florida. No one is sure when the pineapple came to Hawaii but James Dole’s pineapple plantation made Lanai the “Pineapple Isle.”

Dole Park in Lanai City
Dole Park in Lanai City

Early economic development on the island had included a cattle ranch and a sugar plantation. After experiments growing pineapples by Charles and Louisa Gay were successful, James Dole purchased the entire island, in the early 1920s, to develop it into a pineapple plantation.  Dole built Lanai City to provide housing and services for the workers. Today Lanai City is the only intact plantation town in the Hawaiian Islands. In a short time it would become the world’s largest pineapple plantation with 16,000-plus cultivated acres. This 70-year tradition ended in 1992 with the final pineapple harvest.

After the end of pineapple farming, tourism became the future for Lanai. The Four Seasons Lanai was the site for Bill Gates wedding, he rented the whole island to control paparazzi. In 2012, Oracle founder Larry Ellison purchased all Dole property on the island or 97% of the island. The state of Hawaii owns most of the rest. Ellison immediately  did a $75 million renovation to the Four Seasons Lanai. Today he continues new development on the island. He plans very managed growth for now as the infrastructure on the island is limited. Because of it’s past there are only 30 miles of paved roads on the island and no red lights.

Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage CenterThe Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage Center, pictured to the right, sits across the street from the Dole Park and includes a museum with extensive displays on the history of Lanai especially during the Dole era.

Our tour of Lanai continued with a visit to Hulopoe Beach for a 20 minute hike to the overlook to see Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock). Our hike took us to the top and end of the cliff shown below to see Sweetheart Rock just offshore. The name comes from: Legend tells of two lovers, a Hawaiian maiden named Pehe from Lahaina and a young warrior from Lanai named Makakehau. He was so taken with her beauty that whenever he laid eyes upon her they would mist up in tears. Hence his name: Maka (eyes) Kehau (mist). He took her back to Lanai and hid her in a sea cave at the base of Sweetheart Rock, LanaiManele’s cliffs. One day while gathering supplies he noticed a storm brewing and started back, only to find Pehe drowned by the surge of the storm waves. Stricken with grief, Makakehau gathered his beloved in his arms. He wailed out to the gods and his ancestors to help him climb the steep rock island where he eventually buried her. He then jumped from this 80-foot summit into the pounding surf below. (from www.gohawaii.com).

After our day at Lanai, the Safari Explorer prepared for our crossing to Maui through the National Humpback Marine Sanctuary. We will cover that next week.