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


In the Middle of the Sea on Lana’i

Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika

Ghost sightings are not uncommon on Lana’i, the six largest island of Hawaii. Perhaps that is why the population in 2011 has declined to only 3,102. Or, it just may be the lack of fresh water on the island. In any case, Lana’i is definitely worth consideration. I’ll tell you why.

Rugged cliffs on the side of Lanai, Hawaii  Photo by R. KongaikaOur excursion began in Lahaina, Maui, where we caught a ferry and traveled across the ‘Au’au Channel to Lana’i. The voyage took about 45 minutes, and it was calm and beautiful that early morning in May. As we approached the island, we could spot imposing sharp cliffs that make up much of the coastline of this volcanic island.

Our jeep convoy Lanai, Hawaii       Photo by R. KongaikaAs we approached the harbor, there were a few yachts, fishing boats and a smattering of tourists. After departing Manele Bay, our party rented five jeeps and began our journey to the Munro Trail headed for the top of the mountain.

Before we arrived at the trail, we crossed the Palawai Basin, which at one time was a pineapple plantation. This island also produced sugar cane for some time. This side of Lana’i is now arid and monotonous, except for long rows of Norfolk Island Pines. These beauties exist because of a ranch manager, George Munro. He discovered that these trees soak water out of fog and clouds, and produce much needed water for the crops. They were then planted across the island. Many of the pines have existed nearly 100 years.

Our mission was to reach the top of trail where you could see the expanse of the Palawai Basin. The dirt road wound through thick brush. The further up we got, the greener and more inviting it became. Although I admit I was a bit nervous at times when I peered down to see unforgiving drop offs, and noticed the driver looking down too!

Norfolk Pines Lanai, HawaiiMuch to my amazement, we passed three couples and one gentlemen hiking along the trail. I was informed by one of the guides that there are two five-star hotels on the island of Lana’i. This includes the Four Seasons Resort Lanai and the Lodge at Ko’ele.

Many sports enthusiasts travel to the island just to take the hiking challenge. There are also world-class golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus. Surprises all around!

A little further up on the Munro Trail, muddy places appeared on the trail, which made the jeeps slip and slide. We went from dusty thick brush to tropical rain forests with ferns, eucalyptus and magnificent vistas. The first jeep had difficulty getting through the potholes and mud. After several tries, it was determined that we should leave our jeeps on the trail and walk the rest of the way up

One guide said it was five minutes up the hill, but about twenty minutes later, we finally reached our destination. Then we discovered the hike was well worth the effort.

Palawai Basin from the top of the mountain. Lanai, Hawaii Photo by R. KongaikaYou could see three islands from the top of the mountain, including Maui, Moloka’i, and The Big Island (Hawaii). It was incredible.

The Naupaka Flower Lanai, Hawaii Photo by R. KongaikaAfter a refreshing breather and a moment of meditation, while enjoying the gorgeous panorama, we sauntered down the hill to our jeeps.

I saw many plants that were unfamiliar to me.

There is also a legend that goes with the Naupaka flower. To be continued…..


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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