Quietly commune with each other and Mother Nature on the island of Lana’i (“la-na-ee”), which is smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean — and the center of the Hawaiian chain. Perfect for those seeking unspoiled surroundings and posh digs, speechless awe is not uncommon as you hike the spectacular trails, wander the surreal lava rocks and dive amazing reefs.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Language: English, Hawaiian and Pidgin (a Creole language that blends English, Hawaiian, Japanese and Portuguese)
Flight time (to Honolulu): 11 hours from New York City; 6 hours from LA; a 30-minute flight from Honolulu
Getting around: Shuttle and rental car (preferably four-wheel drive)
When to Go: Lana’i at its best
Best weather: Sunny, warm, and dry year-round with slight seasonal temperature shifts
Best prices: Mid-April to June and September to mid-December
Festival highlights: Beautiful leis blanket Hawaii for statewide Lei Day on May 1; Aloha Festivals in September and October inspire street parties, canoe races, music, dance and craft shows to celebrate Hawaiian culture statewide.
What to Do
Bask in total seclusion: Forget fast food, traffic lights, nightclubs, shopping malls and raucous tour buses, Lana’i is a quiet refuge for romance. The beauty of this island is that there’s not too much to do. You won’t feel obligated to sightsee when all you really want is to sip a frozen daiquiri and relax with your kuuipo (sweetheart). It’s sometimes known as the Pineapple Island because of its past as a pineapple plantation. Lana’i is also home to one “major” city (where most of its more than 3,000 residents live). There are only 30 miles of paved roads!
Tackle hiking heaven: Strap on your backpack — stuffed with a gourmet picnic, of course! — and hike or bike the spectacular Munro Trail. Winding upward through rain forest, this five-mile-long trek takes you to the top of the island’s only mountain, the 3,370-foot-high Lanaihale. From the peak on a clear day you’ll be privy to postcard-pretty views of Maui; Hawaii, the Big Island; and Oahu. Check out Keahiakawelo, the Garden of the Gods, a Mars-like landscape of red lava rock formations in northwestern Lana’i, which seem to change color when hit by the sun at different angles throughout the day.
Sightsee underwater: Hulopoe Beach is a crystal-clear marine conservation area near Manele Bay, and is Lana’i’s best spot for snorkeling and swimming. Here you’ll find shady trees to snooze under, beach facilities and frolicking dolphins beyond the waves. Scuba fiends will dig dive sites off the south shore, including the Cathedrals, where 60-foot pinnacles create cathedral-esque chambers filled with fish parishioners, and Sergeant Major Reef, with three parallel lava ridges, a cave and archway.