Entries in ‘Hawaii’ Journal

Oahu, Hawaii Like a Local

Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience the Hawaiian Islands, like myself, you will certainly feel like you are in no way, shape or form in the United States.

Upon landing in Honolulu, Hawaii, my entire family and I were graced with fresh leis that smelled just as good as the sweet Hawaiian island air.

Our family does not lean toward the all-expenses included resort kind of vacation. We prefer renting a house or villa where we can essentially “move-in” for a few weeks and experience Oahu, Hawaii like a local.


"Lanakai Beach"

Oahu like a local at Lanakai Beach in Hawaii

Hawaii’s Lanakai Beach
We rented a home that was about a half hour away from downtown Honolulu. Our home was just a short walk away from a secluded bay on Lanakai beach. Because the beach was mostly used by the Oahu locals, there were plenty of friendly dogs and islanders that seemed to “catch up” on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Having a family full of older adults, college students and even an energy-filled two-year old there were plenty of requests for different activities. One place we could all attend was the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Oahu.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Hearing “cultural center” led me to believe that we were going to walk through a museum filled with artifacts and ancient stories, I wasn’t sure how my little nephew would feel about this. I was completely wrong. The Polynesian Cultural Center was like the Hawaiian version of Disneyland, without all of the mascots running around. Our family opted to experience the Cultural Center like a VIP; our package included daily admission, personal private guided tour, prime rib buffet, HA: Breath of Life Show (front row seats), private backstage tour and Kukui Nut Lei greeting upon arrival.

"Polynesian Cultural Center"

Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center

We were taken on a trip into each of the Polynesian Islands (Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Marquesas). Every island we visited, we learned about the ancient culture and customs accompanied by traditional song and dance. At the end of the day we attended a traditional luau and were privy to front row seats at a Hawaiian cultural show, complete with grass skirts and fire breathers.
Hawaiian Cuisine

"Honolulu Burger Company"

Honolulu Burger Company

Most of the time spent on the beautiful island of Oahu was hanging out with family and indulging in the classic Hawaiian cuisine. Make sure to check out the hidden treasure of a restaurant, Honolulu Burger. Tucked away in downtown Honolulu, the grass-fed burger joint is a local secret. With burgers such as the Kona Burger, which is rubbed with a coffee spices atop a bed of sautéed onions, beets and chipotle sauce, this place is culinary lovers dream. If the burgers weren’t so filling it’s worth ordering more than one of these unique creations. Besides the local Hawaiian grills and fresh Farmers’ Markets, the fruit on Oahu is something you do not want to miss. We cut up a fresh pineapple almost every day and it was gone by the end of the day. To embrace this cultural fruit, we even visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation, specifically for the Pineapple Whippie Ice Cream.

The Dole Plantation is located on the North end of the Island, where all the real surfers hang out. We ventured up to Kee Beach, secretly called “Turtle Beach” because of the sea turtles that tend to swim right up onto shore in front of you. You might even catch them laying their eggs. But what the North Shore is known for is the 20-80ft waves that happen almost every day. We caught a few surfers toward the end of the day that told us the Nalus (Hawaiian for waves), were supposed to be the best at the end of the week.

Whale watching

Whale watching in Oahu

Whale Watching in Oahu

We ended our trip in a possible cliché way by Whale Watching off the West Coast of Oahu. The winds on shore were about 15mph, so out at sea they kicked up to 30mph. This gave us an incredibly bumpy boat ride that felt more like an amusement park ride than a smooth catamaran boat. But the trip was well worth it when we finally saw a female Orca Whale with her calf only a few hundred feet from our boat.

Ocean Joy Cruises was an excellent company that took us safely out in the middle of the ocean. The staff was incredibly accommodating, and cute I might add. Lunch was provided along with some margaritas. While anchored for lunch we also had the opportunity to snorkel atop a large coastal reef. Let’s just say, I have never seen a tropical fish that looked as big as if he could swallow me in one bite.

The small town of Lanakai was a calm and unique part of Hawaii but Honolulu was incredibly busy and even the drive to the north shore was breathtaking.  Filled with local residents and young surfers, the island of Oahu is like taking a break from the hectic world and indulging into the sweet ways of island life.
Insider Tip: No matter where you are headed on the island of Oahu and no matter what the forecast says, make sure to always pack a rain jacket. Many of the storm clouds get stuck just above the mountains, which is the pass between Honolulu and the rest of the island.

This is a guest post by Natalie Crandall

Lanai, Hawaii: Things to See and Do

Friday October 25, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 3 Comments

Manele Bay Harbor, Lānaʻi

Manele Bay Harbor, Lānaʻi, Hawaii

Are you visiting Lānaʻi for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do on this enticing Hawaiian island.

Whether you traveled by Expeditions Ferry from Maui or by Island Air, you are probably visiting Lānaʻi to kick back and relax. I recommend snorkeling or snuba (a combination of snorkeling and scuba) at Hulopo’e Beach. You’ll also want to walk around tiny Lānaʻi City for a local, authentic experience.



Kaiolohia Beach, Lānaʻi

Kaiolohia Beach, also known as Shipwreck Beach

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is Kaiolohia, also known as Shipwreck Beach. You’ll need a four wheel drive to get there, (I hired Rabaca’s Limousine Service for a private tour of the island) but once you walk to the beach, it’s almost certain that you’ll see  green sea turtles or honu, as they are called in Hawaii.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), for kissing with a view, either in the day, or under the full moon. If you enjoy being out on the water, take a sunset catamaran cruise with Trilogy Excursions – the same company that offers snuba on Hulopo’e Beach.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the Lānaʻi Pine and Sporting Clays, and try your hand at 3D Archery where you can hunt and shoot dinosaurs.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Hawaiian island food

If you are looking for typical Lānaʻi cuisine, I would recommend the Lānaʻi Ohana Poke Market, for your daily dose of freshly made Hawaiian Poke. You’ll need to get there early, as they run out.

The best place to go for coffee is Coffee Works -try the Caramel Blended Rush.  For a fresh baked apple turnover, or pig in a blanket stop by Blue Ginger Café.

Looking for cheap food in Lānaʻi? All of the local restaurants are scattered around Dole Square, as is the Farmers Market. I shared an Asian salad and BLT wrap with avocado from Pele’s Other Garden for lunch and ordered the local plate of  Korean chicken katsu, with white rice and macaroni salad from Cafe 565 – good, filling and affordable.

For late night dining, try Lānaʻi City Grille, located in the Hotel Lānaʻi, or Pele’s Other Garden in Dole Square.  Both restaurants offer a bar, as well as live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, dine at any of the restaurants in the Four Seasons Resorts Lānaʻi Lodge at Koele or Manele Bay. While Nobu is the hot spot for foodies, I enjoyed dinner at One Forty restaurant even more than Nobu.

Seeing a lot of axis deer around the island? Lānaʻi  is home to axis deer and mouflan sheep, which are the big game for hunters.

Insider tip: Lānaʻi venison is one of the top tasting venison cuisine.

Koloiki Ridge, Lānaʻi

From Koloiki Ridge you may see the islands of Maui and Molokai

When you come to Lānaʻi, get your picture taken at Garden of the Gods, Kaiolohia, Polihua Beach, and Sweetheart Rock.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to Koloiki Ridge, where you will experience the view of sister islands Maui and Molokai.

Polihua Beach and Kamaulapau Harbor are the best places to be to view the sunsets on the western shores of the island.

In Lanai, outdoor enthusiasts can explore and go on a hike or mountain bike with Hike Lānaʻi www.hikelanai.com.  If you want to experience the paniolo style, ride through the island’s ironwood forests on a horseback ride, or for the rugged adventurer, buckle up on a UTV ride that will take you through majestic mountain views to the ocean with Lānaʻi Grand Adventures.

Looking for a little exercise? Take a walk along Fisherman’s Trail, located beach front of the Four Seasons Resorts Lānaʻi at Manele Bay, which leads you on an interpretive walk through Kapiha’a Village, once a thriving village.

Pālāwai pineapple fields, Lanai

Plowing the Pālāwai pineapple fields 1926

If you are a museum lover, visit the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center to walk through the timeline of the islands history.

Lānaʻi Today will keep you posted on what’s happening in Lānaʻi, this local newspaper is published once a month on the island.

If you are on island in the springtime, you should visit for the Annual Lānaʻi Film Festival!

In the summer, checkout the Annual Lānaʻi Pineapple Festival, held every year around Fourth of July weekend.

Mamo Fernandez, Festivals of Aloha

Mamo Fernandez shares her lei making skills

Festivals of Aloha

Did you know that Hawaii is known to celebrate the history and culture through the Festivals of Aloha?  This celebration is held during the fall months of September through October. I was very fortunate to be there and celebrate  in the island’s traditions.

Come to Lānaʻi for the annual TriLanai Triathlon in the winter.

Insider Tip:

I’ll bet you didn’t know that prior to the pineapple plantation era, Lānaʻi once had a thriving Maunalei Sugar Mill on the north east coast, which remnants of the old Keomoku Village are still visible today.

Across from Lānaʻi, visit the Island of Maui.

What are your favorite things to do on Lānaʻi?

Photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Lanai Visitors Bureau.

Four Seasons Lanai Manele Bay, Hawaii: Luxury Hotel Review

Friday October 18, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 7 Comments

Four Seasons Lānaʻi, Manele Bay pool

Four Seasons Lānaʻi, Manele Bay hotel review

I can’t tell you how many times I have looked across the water from Maui and wondered about that “other island” in the distance. A few miles west of Maui, the island of Lānaʻi was once home to Hawaii’s largest pineapple plantation.

While the island no longer exports pineapple, it does support 3,000+ residents and three hotels. Two of the hotels are run by Four Seasons Resorts.

I had the pleasure of staying at both the Four Seasons Lodge at Ko’ele and Four Seasons Lānaʻi, Manele Bay in Hawaii as a guest of Lanai Visitors Bureau. Manele Bay, with its 236 hotel rooms is a five star resort. The hotel is divided into nine buildings. Five of the buildings are named after flowers and four buildings carry the names of fish.


Ocean front terrace room

I was staying in the Ginger wing, with lovely landscaped grounds and an ocean front terrace view on ground level. My room, #2503, rented for $759, depending on the season, and included a king bed, desk and chair, a lounge chair, with ottoman and patio furniture on the small terrace. A well manicured lawn unfurled in front of my room, which looked out to the Pacific ocean.

The bathroom featured a large combination bath and shower. One of the highlights walking into the bathroom; smelling the full-sized L’ Occitane French-milled soaps. Yes, I admit; my dirty clothes bag was filled with the scent of verbena from these natural soaps.

Manele Bay, waterfall

The grounds at Four Seasons Lanai, Manele Bay in Hawaii

Family-friendly Manele Bay

Having not yet adjusted to the California time change, I got up early one morning and caught a tender moment between a father and his new baby, watching the sun come up. While our children are now young adults, this precious scene immediately brought back fond memories of one of our kids staggering across the grass as she learned to walk in Hawaii.

Will Lānaʻi is certainly a popular island for celebrating weddings, babymoons and anniversaries, Lānaʻi at Manele Bay is very family-friendly with kid’s programs, kid’s menus and family-friendly hotel rooms.

Nine junior suites, with prime ocean front views, are family-friendly with king bed and sofa in room. For more value-oriented hotel rooms, ask for a garden terrace.

Hulopo'e Bay beach chairs

Hulopo’e Bay beach in Lanai, Hawaii

Hulopo’e beach at Manele Bay

Beach lovers will appreciate that Hulopo’e beach is only a five minute walk from the resort. Hotel guests can expect clean restrooms, ice water, snorkel equipment, beach chairs and towels available for their use at the beach.  You’ll want to wear sandals for the walk down the paved path -it can get hot on the feet!

Manele Bay pool valet

When you are ready to go into “pool mode” slather on some sunscreen – you remember those sun safety tips – and don’t forget to grab your sunglasses.  Then sit back in a lounge chair and order the Lychee Rose Sangria from the bar. Feel good knowing that your Hawaiian island cocktail is 100% sustainable, with all ingredients found within 100 miles of Lānaʻi. (I know it’s a stretch, but I’m doing my part to keep Lānaʻi eco-friendly.

Manele Bay Lana'i

Four Seasons Manele Bay resort, Lana’i, Hawaii

If a friend is headed down from the Challenge Clubhouse restaurant, ask them to bring you a ginger ice cream sandwich. Afterall, you are on vacation, aren’t you?

Eventually, Dr. Shades and Dr. Lotion  will stop by to wipe your sunglasses, tighten the screws, and offer a sunscreen refresh. Those of you who like to stay connected while on vacation, or make your friends jealous with Hawaiian holiday pictures, will appreciate the charging stations at the pool.

Spa at Four Seasons Manele Bay

If you love being outdoors and hearing the sound of the ocean, you’ll want to line up a massage in an ocean hale with the Spa at Manele Bay. This tented cabana offers individual and couples massages overlooking Hulopo’e Bay. Need I say more?

hotel room, Manele Bay

Ocean Front Terrace Four Seasons Resorts Lanai, Manele Bay

Manele Bay dining options

If you are a sushi lover, make a reservation for Nobu Lanai. Personally, I’m not a fan of raw fish, but I did love their tempura battered shrimp with mushrooms and the Wagyu beef was fantastic. Make your dinner reservation for sunset, but if you are a baby boomer, bring your mini flashlight with you…the dim overhead lighting makes menu reading difficult at night.

One Forty Steak House offered one of my favorite meals and the service was attentive without being over-whelming.  My sunset supper started off with an Asian Pear Salad ($18) with macadamia nuts, blue cheese, papaya, mango and whole grain mustard-honey dressing. If the Kahuku corn soup is on the menu, give it a go, with its subtle butter poached lobster, hint of lemon cream and baby basil. My main course was the American Wagyu Snake River Farms 7 oz. flat iron steak ($45.) I also ordered the green bean casserole with Hamakua mushrooms as a side dish. My eyes were bigger than my stomach when I ordered the chocolate souffle ($8) but the few bites that I managed were warm, rich and creamy.

Lychee sangria Four Seasons Manele Bay, Lana'i

Lychee sangria Four Seasons Manele Bay, Lana’i

Insider tip

I’m not a golfer, but I do enjoy good food and a scenic, ocean front dining experience. That’s exactly what I got when I ate lunch at the Challenge  at Manele Clubhouse. Order the drink of the day (strawberry lemonade on my visit) and if you are a seafood lover, you can’t go wrong with the Makai Salad or fish tacos.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @FSLanai on Twitter.

Check the website for package deals such as fourth night free.

Check in: 3:00 p.m.

Check out: 12:00 p.m.

If You Go

Four Seasons Lanai Manele Bay (808) 565-2000

One Manele Bay Road

Lānaʻi, Hawaii 96763

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of  Lānaʻi Visitors Bureau.

Related Post:

Lanai, Hawaii: Things to See and Do