The Original Hawaii
From cloud forests to lava cliffs, with fewer than 3,000 residents—and not a fast-food joint or stoplight in sight— Lanai offers a glimpse of what the other Hawaiian islands were like more than a half-century ago. Only now, there are two luxurious Four Seasons resorts, each glistening from a $50 million touch-up.
WHERE TO STAY Set in the verdant highlands, more Pacific Northwest than South Pacific, the Lodge at Koele (1 Keomoku Hwy.; 800/321-4666; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $295) has large rooms, sprawling gardens, and two new fireplaces in the Great Hall—perfect for winter’s cooler evenings. For a more traditional Hawaiian vacation, book a night at Koele’s beachside sister property, Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay (1 Manele Bay Rd.; 808/565-2000; doubles from $395).
WHERE TO EAT Local power-lunchers belly up to the Formica counter at Canoes Lanai (419 Seventh St.; 808/ 565-6537; lunch for two $20), a 60-year-old fixture, for blue-plate specials such as orange chicken and roast pork. From a cushy rattan chair at the Ocean Grill (Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay; 808/565-2094; dinner for two $120), take in the ultimate tropical scene while savoring perfectly grilled opakapaka (snapper), mahimahi, and Kona lobster.
WHAT TO DO December through April marks the seasonal migration of humpbacked whales through the waters off Lanai. Hook up with the naturalists at Trilogy (888/628-4800; www.visitlanai.com), who pilot small groups in a 32-foot inflatable boat. For an inland adventure, hike the five-mile trail along the Koloiki Ridge, which has unparalleled views. —Malia Boyd