Lanai – Jeep Adventures, Diving and a Tale of Two Worlds

After a very enjoyable 2 hour motor over glassy seas to Manele Bay, Lanai we tied to an actual dock for the first time since Mexico!  Sherry, the harbormaster, was so welcoming and accommodating.  She and her husband are sailors.  They are preparing their Beneteau for a trip to Tahiti next year.  Jeff invited us to ride with him up to Lanai City at the top of the island and we jumped in his truck and rode up to their home.  After visiting with him at the house he graciously offered the use of his Jeep!  We fired it up and took off to explore the island.

Lanai has an interesting history as it was once almost entirely owned by the Dole Pineapple Company.  The last pineapple was harvested in 1992 and the land was all purchased by billionaire Larry Ellison.  The 3,000 residents are family and descendants of those that worked on the plantation and the population is concentrated into the small town at the top of the island.  The town is at 1,500 feet so the climate is cooler than at sea level and gets more rain so is more lush.  100 years ago they planted cook island pine trees all over the town and along the main roads into and out of Lanai City.  It creates a nice ambiance and is reminicent of Lake Tahoe in California.  We enjoyed the little town and spent time at the cultural center.

The next few days we really took advantage of the Jeep and went 4-wheeling on many of the dirt roads that lead up into the mountains and down to the beaches.  We visited ancient petrogliphs near shipwreck beach and toured the ancient village at Kaunolu where King Kamehameha spent his vacations fishing and testing his warriors.  He used to make them jump off a 65 foot high cliff past rocks and into the sea.  If they made it they were forgiven of any wrongdoing.  If they died it was considered fate and punishment from the Gods.  It was a pretty cool site and the ruins were in good shape.  That said, Alyssa is pretty much over looking at stacked rocks and I think they sure are starting to all look the same.

We spent our last day in Lanai at the four seasons resort just lounging and enjoying the gorgeous view and good people watching.  Rooms start at $1,000/night so I’m sure we were surrounded by celebs but we don’t have TV or care to follow hollywood media so we wouldn’t know if they were famous or not.  But they can afford some pricey food and drinks!

Lanai provided us with the most stark contrast between rich and poor that we have seen on our voyage thus far.  On the windward side of the island you have dilapidated shacks with very poor, drug addicted people.  Outside Lanai City and down at Manele Bay you have the ritzy four seasons with well manicured grounds and golf courses surrounded by multi-million dollar homes.  A microcosm of the USA at its extremes in one tiny island.   

We left Lanai on Sunday and sailed for Lahaina.  We were met with 20 knots out of the north preventing us from laying Lahaina in one tack.  We bashed close on the wind and made the lee of Maui about 6 miles south of Lahaina.  On came the engine and we creeped up the coast at a blistering 3 knots for two hours.  When we finally reached Lahaina it was howling 25+ knots which made entering the harbor too dicey for our taste so we decided to concede to the weather and run.  We ran downwind back to the lee of the island where the wind died.  After another two hours of motoring we found ourselves rounding Papawai Pt and were met with more high winds on the nose.  We pushed through the gusts and chop and made Maalea Harbor in two tacks.  After entering the harbor right before sunset we dropped the hook to the right of the entrance to assess the docking options.  Turns out there were none.  All the boats were med-moored and the place was packed tight.  We were unable to raise anyone on VHF, including the coast guard so we pulled anchor and left before it became totally dark.  We motored into the wind and dropped the anchor in the gradual sloping sand at the head of Maalea Bay, the large bight in the lee of Maui.  We spent a very windy but relatively comfortable night there.  In the morning we sailed for Lahaina but decided not to go in and set sail for Molokai.

I’ll write tomorrow about our terrifying and trying passage from Maui to Oahu.  The seas were huge, the wind was howling, we almost died twice, were knocked down past 75 degrees with half the whisker pole in the trough and spent a sleepless night dodging traffic off Honolulu.  

In the meantime, here are some pics starting with Ellie moored off Lahaina and ending with sunset over Manele Bay, Lanai:

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1 Comment

  1. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    November 22, 2014    

    We’re partial as my wife and I are caretakers of a Tartan 37, but we’re enjoying your blog/adventure. Keep up the good work.

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