Lanai is first and foremost a "private island" (which Bill Gates “rented” for his honeymoon in 1994—yes, the whole island!), owned in its entirety by a single entity, Castle & Cooke Company. It is also a paradox, at once primitive and refined, where rugged, almost-inaccessible, four-wheel-drive country and the trappings of five-star, luxury resorts coexist.
The Islands of Hawaii
Lanai is the sixth largest Hawaiian island, 18 miles long and 13 miles wide, encompassing some 141 square miles. But unlike neighboring Maui and Molokai, Lanai comprises a single volcanic land mass, that of Lanaihale, elevation 3,370 feet. At the center of the island is Lanai City, the island’s principal community, and at its south end its main resort, Manele Bay. To the southwest of Lanai City lies Kaunolu, to its east Keomuku Beach (a 6-mile coastal stretch), to its north an 8-mile stretch of coastline known as Shipwreck Beach, and to its northwest the eerie moonscape, "Garden of the Gods." The Palawai Basin, once the largest pineapple plantation in the world – which also gave the island its original moniker, "Pineapple Isle" – with 16,000- plus acres planted to the fruit at one time (fewer than 100 acres of pineapple now remain), lies just to the south of Lanai City.
Although the island is fairly rugged and relatively sparsely populated, it does offer luxury accommodations and fine dining at its two resort establishments and more modest lodgings at its sole hotel in Lanai City, as well as a host of recreational opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, fishing, hiking, beachcombing, and golfing at world-class golf courses.
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