Hawaii and Pacific: Hawaii - Lana'i | Snorkeling Cathedrals, Golf Greens & Red Lava Rocks

Find the best vendors in Hawaii here!
by Virginia Wageman

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.

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.

Why To Go

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 to do is sip a frozen daiquiri and relax with your ipo (sweetheart). It's sometimes known as the Pineapple Island -- because it was and is almost wholly owned by Dole Foods, and was most recently a giant pineapple plantation -- Lana'i is home to one "major" city (where most of its nearly 3,000 citizens live). There are only 30 miles of paved roads!

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 eight-mile-long trek takes you to the top of the island's only mountain, the 3,370-foot-high Lana'ihale. From the peak on a clear day you'll be privy to postcard-pretty views of Maui, the Big Island, and Oahu. Check out 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.

Underwater sightseeing: 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 for snoozing beneath, beach facilities, and frolicking dolphins beyond the waves. Scuba fiends will dig dive sites off the south shore, including 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.

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