When travelers mention Hawaii, everybody says Waikiki, Kauai, Big Island or Maui. Few say anything about the island known for pineapples, Lanai, just a short ferry boat ride across the Auau channel from Lahaina, Maui. We were talked into a day trip to Lanai by our dear friend, Debbie, several years ago. We had just met her on a golf course a few days prior. She invited us to join her, her ex husband Tom, and another golfing couple. We jumped at the chance, although I had to prepare for the ocean voyage with my sea bands, patch, and meclizine tablets.
Lanai is the 6th largest island in Hawaii, and has only one town, Lanai City. It is only 140 square miles, and has only about 3100 residents. It is best known for its pineapples, and the Dole Company of David Murdock. It is not a separate county, and lies under the control of Maui County. Only three hotels are located here, the large Four Seasons Manele, and Lodge at Koele, and the small, rustic, Lanai Hotel. The big attractions here are the golf courses at the two large resorts. Before the resorts were built, only day trips to Lanai were allowed.
We caught an early morning ferry from Lahaina Harbor and met up with the two golfing couples. I managed to stay well for the trip over and back, as it seemed a miracle for me. The best part of the ride over: spotting some whales, and being guided by a large school of dolphins crisscrossing over our bow. I soon forgot about motion sickness, and started to enjoy the trip.
We landed in little Lanai Harbor, and caught a small shuttle bus to the Lodge at Koele. There is not much to see on the way there. Some pineapples are still grown, but much of the land is vacant. We passed little Lanai City, and got some snacks and sodas. As we approached the Lodge, we saw a herd of deer in the trees. The Lodge is an imposing sight on an island without any tall structures. It almost looks out of place here.
We then were dropped at the Koele Golf Course, and went out as a five some, with Sheri driving my cart. I managed to keep up with Tom and the other guy, even though they were better golfers. Debbie was much better than the other lady, but we had a great round, even when it misted a little. The ladies decided to take the shuttle back to the hotel after 18 holes, dry off, and have some coffee or a drink.
Meanwhile, Tom and the other guy talk me into a little wager for 9 more holes. Both were better players, but I reluctantly said I would play them straight up, in other words, they were not giving me any strokes. All of a sudden, like magic, I am playing better. We get to the 325 yard 8th hole, where our second shot must go over a large lake to a small peninsula shaped green. During the first 18, I tried to drive the green, only to splash a few feet short.
Since we had such a huge bet, drinks in the bar after, I decided to lay up with a 6 iron, then go for the green. It was my lucky day, as I stuck the ball about 3 feet from the pin, made the birdie, and assured myself the win. Little did I know how fortuitous this would be.
We finished the 9 holes, and went back over to the hotel to meet the girls. We took a quick tour of this magnificent hotel, and settled into the bar. We were the only ones there. Tom and the other guy had to buy the drinks. Though Sheri and I had a soda, the four of them opted for big time drinks. Each round was about $50!!! We had 3 rounds before the shuttle bus came to take us back to the harbor. The drinks cost more than the day trip and golf.
We plan to go back someday and stay at this luxurious, and empty hotel. It would be completely ours, as only 7 couples were registered there. It is a little pricey, but worth a one or two day splurge and a visit to their spa.
Meanwhile, on the dusty road back, the guys want to stop in Lanai City for some beer. We invaded this little mom and pop store, and bought some 6 packs for the 20 minute ride. I opted for my second soft drink of the afternoon.
Here is the best part. With so much intake, we had to do a little output. So, we ran over to the outdoor toilets in a nearby park near the harbor. Dusk was well upon us, and we had no lights or enclosures on this slight upgrade from an outhouse. I had to stand guard with my back to the toilet so the girls could go potty. We truly went from the penthouse at the Lodge to the outhouse at the park.
We ran to catch the ferry and were the last ones on board. It was the last ferry of the day, so we really cut it close. The dark ride back was smoother than the ride over. We sat alone on the top deck, beer in hand, memories intact. It was a great way to spend the day with a friend who would become so dear to us through the years. Thank you Debbie.