About 4 months ago, I heard through the news sites that Lanai was doing a special event this year -- Lanai 5th Fridays -- with a good value package deal including ferry over and back, transport on the island and a town party, every month that had 5 Fridays. Turns out one was October, so for a change, we changed islands.
It starts of course with a ferry ride to the island from Lahaina.
|Bye bye harbour|
|The expanses of Lahaina|
|The towers of Ka'anapali, explaining why we don't stay there|
It's hard to believe anyone grew anything on Lanai as you approach it. Thousands of acres of desolate scrub is all you see.
|The dry side|
|There's a road, sort of, leading to a beach.|
|Scrub from the boat|
|The first of the cliffs|
|Sea stack in the distance|
|Walls of lava|
|Looks like a fault to me|
|Probably 300' tall|
|The beach, and the resort. Yet another crowded Maui beach|
|The other end|
|Cool puddles full of stuff|
|Crabs & fish & sea cucumbers|
|Maybe even a fish pond|
|A rough cove|
|Kind of an interesting if inaccessible beach|
|A lava arch|
|Looking back at the resort|
See, if you don't know, this is virtually a private island (98% owned by one guy). It stated that way in the 1870's when it slowly acquired into one big private ranch. Then in 1922, Jim Dole (of pineapple fame) bought it and turned it into the world's biggest pineapple farm. When Dole was sold to Castle & Cooke in 1985, ownership transferred to them and David Murdoch (a real estate mogul). C&C shut down the pineapple farming in 1989, building the resort first. In 2012, the island was sold (for a rumoured $600 million) to Larry Ellison, founder of Sun Microsystems. Larry owns the place, lock, stock and houses -- though he doesn't own the island's gas station.
At 4:30, we picked up a shuttle to Lanai City, a 3,200 person company town and former plantation headquarters -- and the only town on the island. To get there, we drove up the side of the island opposite Maui. Turns out, there's a plateau at 1,200 feet ASL and the centre section of the island is almost flat. The towns in the middle.
The 5th Friday even was centred on Dole Park, a big rectangle fronted by 2 main drags where EVERY BUSINESS IN TOWN is located. And that's not many; 4 restaurants, a coffeeshop, 2 art galleries, 2 grocery stores, a laundromat, some banks, an old jail...
|A long way to LA|
|Off to the flatness of the centre|
Everyone, and I mean everyone, works for either Mr. Ellison (directly or indirectly) or the Government. With virtually the only places for visitors to stay closed, that's kinda limiting in the jobs department. So the 5th Friday idea was a way to bring day visitors to the island, which doesn't happen often.
So we visited every business at least twice. We were:
- Blown by the hurt me pricing in grocery stores. $9 US a case of Coke. $7 a loaf of bread. Wine that is $5 on Maui is $9 on Lanai. Whole chicken is $2.50/lb on Maui, $3.75 on Lanai.
- Blown by the reasonable prices in the restaurants. We enjoyed the crab cakes and coconut shrimp in Pele's in particular.
- Struggling as to how anyone can eke out a living on the island
- Impressed by how friendly every local was. It's like they needed someone from the outside to talk to.
- Surprised at the complete lack of views of anything from within the city. No ocean views at all, and no mountain views, either.
|238 of the 3,100 people who live here hunted sheep|
|The little ones|
|The stylish ones|
|The hip shakers|
|The boat's rooster tail|
- An ice cream shop that also sells shave ice -- and maybe candy, too. You could make it handmade sorbets and ice cream because getting frozen things to the island is a pain
- A bakery. Apparently, there used to be one but it became a full-fledged restaurant. A sandwich shop that sells bread (like Canmore's JK) could work