Lana'i Sweetheart Beach and Rock, Island Retreat

Lana’i Sweetheart Beach and Rock; (c) Soul Of America

Lana’i, A Dual-Personality Island Retreat

On the southern shore of Lana’i, you can lie on a white-sand beach under swaying palms, snorkel and body surf in turquoise waters or simply sip strawberry daiquiris by the pool. — Jeanette Valentine

At a much cooler elevation, you can hike through mountain grasslands, mount a quarter horse to lope over the hills or simply nurse a mug of hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire.

Lana’i (pronounced “lah nye EE”) capitalizes on its microclimates to offer travelers the choice of two different, and complementary, vacations. Yet, what strikes me most about the island are the Christmas Trees. Hundreds of them. Year-round.

In the early 1900’s, New Zealander George Munro imported pine trees to trap moisture from fog to bolster the water supply. Now, Norfolk Pines line the main highway like triangular dominos, a curious oddity that adds to the charm of this isle just south of Moloka’i.

Lana’i was once known as the Pineapple Capital of the World, responsible for 75 or 90 percent (depending on whom you ask) of global production. David Murdoch, current owner of most of the island (and no relation to Rupert), closed the pineapple operation in 1992 because of overwhelming foreign competition. Only two dozen pineapple plants remain, lining the walkway to the downtown Lana’i Cultural and Heritage Center.

Lana'i, An Island Retreat

Dis n Dat Gift Shop, Lana’i; (c) Soul Of America

Today, tourism has replaced “picking pine” as the engine of Lana’i’ economy. But don’t expect hordes of sun-bathers crowding the beaches or packs of hikers swarming the trails. While the masses flock to other Hawaiian islands, relatively few travelers vacation in Lana’i. Plan to visit soon. This paradise for nature lovers and resort enthusiasts alike won’t remain a well-kept secret for long.

Though you can spend an idyllic week on Lana’i just lolling on the beach or hiking in the woods, do take advantage of a slew of other activities: snorkeling, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, clay shooting, strolling around quaint Lana’i City, shopping the boutiques and art galleries or visiting the informative Lana’i Cultural and Heritage Center. After a visit to Lana’i, I felt as if I’d enjoyed the right balance of activity and relaxation amid a double dose of tropical bliss.

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