Exploring more of Lana’i in Hawaii

Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika

Last time, I wrote about my first experience on the sixth largest island in Hawaii, Lana’i. It was definitely an adventure, and a rejuvenating change from the bustling island of Oahu on which I live.

The Naupaka Flower Lanai, Hawaii Photo by R. KongaikaAs a plant lover, I was interested in some succulents and ferns I had not seen before. Also, there was a peculiar plant that had flowers with petals on only half of it. Our guide told us that this was the Naupaka plant. It has a sad and romantic legend that goes like this: A Hawaiian Princess named Naupaka fell in love with a man named Kaui. He was not of noble blood, and was forbidden from marrying royalty. Together they sought the help of a kahuna (wise man) who advised that they pray together. The answer they received from the Gods is that they could not stay together. Naupaka took a flower from her hair, tore it in half, and gave the other half to Kaui. The lovers separated, and the sorrowful earth bore flowers with only half of the petals, so their love would not be forgotten, and in hopes that one day they would be reunited.

As our party of five jeeps descended from the mountain top, we were revitalized from the breathtaking vistas and awareness of the gems the island of Lana’i had to offer. We then made our way to the Lana’i Cultural and Heritage Museum. There were pictures, maps and artifacts of the past, and a history line as it took us through the pineapple era, the sugarcane era, and the Christian influences on the island.Lana'i Culture Center Hawaii Photo by R. Kongaika

We had lunch at a little Mormon Chapel in town where we found a chameleon, heard some historical presentations, and ate some yummy grub.

Chameleon, Lana'i Hawaii Photo by R. KongaikaWe took a little drive through Lana’i City. Mostly it was made up of wooden houses with tin roofs, painted in an assortment of colors. There were no traffic lights, malls or crowds. You could understand how someone could enjoy a peaceful life on this laid back island. We were told that most of the residents work for the five-star resorts and golf courses developed on the island. The rest of them fish and grow root crops.    

There is a greenhouse at Hotel Lana’i with beautiful orchids, a photographer’s paradise. The orchids were not on our agenda, but here is a link to some of the orchids from Lana’i: http://candicetreadwayphotography.blogspot.com/2011/07/orchids-on-lanai.html I really want to return again to see them.

From there we made a mad dash to catch the ferry back to Maui. On the way we stopped at the Four Season Resort for a second and saw the marvelous grounds and fountain.

A company called Expeditions runs the ferry regularly from Lahaina, Mau’i to Lana’i every day. It was a very comfortable ride. They even have an air-conditioned cabin with soft seats and large windows for those that don’t mind cruising in an enclosed space. On the way over, in the early morning, we had journeyed in the seats at the top of the ferry, enjoying the fresh ocean breezes and splendid scenery.

Yacht at Harbor Manele Bay, Lana'i, Hawaii  Photo by R. KongaikaWe were told that at certain times of the year you can see humpback whales between Maui and Lana’i. During the summer, the whales are said to travel to cooler waters near Alaska. They come back around October and November. 

The island of Lana’i is mostly owned by one man, David H. Murdock, but it is now up for sale, if you want your own little island.

Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, but has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the Polynesian islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:


email: kongaikr@byuh.edu


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