Last updated: 03:40 PM ET, Wed July 13 2016

See a Different Side of Hawaii in Lanai

Tour Operator | Blue Sky Tours | Kristina Rundquist | July 13, 2016

See a Different Side of Hawaii in Lanai

PHOTO: Sweetheart Rock in Lanai (Courtesy Blue Sky Tours)

Thirty miles of paved roads. Nine miles from Maui. Three hotels and zero traffic lights.

That’s a short description of Lanai that belies an island with a thousand stories to tell. As Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island and with slightly less than 3,200 year-round residents, Lanai is an island of contrasts.

Whether reveling in the amenities available at the island’s luxury resorts or exploring the rugged backroads on a 4-wheel drive expedition, there’s no better tour operator to show you the sights than Blue Sky Tours, an expert in selling Hawaii and the South Pacific (and only to travel agents).

North Lanai. Much of the northern part of the island is criss-crossed with dirt roads … and ripe for adventure. Take a drive out to Kaiolokia, or Shipwreck Beach, which got its name thanks to a ghostly ship, wrecked just off Lanai’s northeast coast. Keahiakawelo, also known as The Garden of the Gods, is an otherworldly natural rock garden, which resembles a lunar landscape, thanks to centuries of erosion. It’s a must-see for visitors, especially late in the day when the rocks are turned brilliant reds and purples by the light of the setting sun. Another must-see is the 590-acre Kanepuu Preserve, which is home to nearly 48 species of native plants. Want a little get-away? Take a swim at Polihua Beach, the island’s most secluded beach and the perfect spot for a romantic assignation.

Central Lanai. The island’s central region is what gives Lanai its rustic feel thanks to wide open plains of Cook pine trees. Traveling through the Palawai Basin, travelers will see vast areas once covered with pineapple fields, while the Munro Trail leads to Lanaihale, the island’s highest peak. It’s in Central Lanai, too, that visitors will find Lanai City, the island’s geographic and cultural center. Quaint boutiques, art galleries and restaurants offering up local fare dot this charming town. It’s here that the historic Hotel Lanai can be found, while just down the street is the lavish Four Seasons Resort Lanai, the Lodge at Keolo. Unlike any other property on the island, the Lodge offers guests the chance to try their hand at horseback riding, archery, clay shooting and the Greg Norman-designed Experience at Koele golf course.

South Lanai. Take a four-wheel drive to King Kamehameha's summer fishing retreat, Kaunolu, or head over to Hulopoe and Manele Bays, where spinner dolphins cavort just off the coast in a marine life conservation area. Between the two bays sits Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock, a Lanai landmark. Hulopoe is also home to the Four Season Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, with its full-service spa and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Challenge at Manele.

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