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  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.

Domestic Violence Happens in Hotel Rooms

Wednesday October 23, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 24 Comments

domestic violence

Domestic Violence behind hotel room doors

“Why would I want to marry you? You are a lazy piece of shit!” screamed the woman’s angry voice, penetrating my adjoining hotel room door like a knife.

I could hear him lunge toward her, as he reached for her face.

“You touch my face and I’ll scream,” yelled the woman as tempers flared and hands flew.

I experienced one of the most disturbing nights of my life last night, as a mother, public citizen and hotel reviewer. I was a silent witness to domestic violence in the hotel room next to me.

Alcohol-fueled domestic violence

I assume this was alcohol-fueled domestic violence, as the couple had recently returned from a nearby wedding. I could tell from both parties that this type of behavior was not new to them. She was screaming for him not to hit her, he was yelling and telling her to stop scratching his face. Foul language was flying back and forth, like a volleyball, across the room. Then I heard a young baby begin to cry.

My heart raced. My stomach dropped. They continued to fight. My first instinct was to step into the hall, pound on the hotel door and rescue that baby. Instead, I called to the hotel front desk for help.

End Domestic ViolenceDomestic violence intervention

The young receptionist who checked me in listened to my rush of words and politely said she would call to their hotel room. I said a phone call wouldn’t suffice as there was a baby at risk in the hotel room. Perhaps I should call 911? After my insistence, she said a manager would be sent to their room.

Verbal abuse

I waited for normalcy to return. Waves of verbal abuse continued between periods of him leaving the room and her talking, via telephone, with her mother in another room of the same hotel.
“Why should I have to leave the room and sleep in a chair with the baby when he keeps beating on me? That f@$ker should have to leave. He’s a worthless piece of shit!”

Silent Witness Table, Michael Cawelti

Silent Witness Table

Hotel room domestic violence

I called to the front desk for assistance two additional times that evening. Finally, she went to sleep. I don’t think her boyfriend came back that night. The last time I looked at the clock it was 1:35 a.m.

The next morning, I wrote a note documenting the occurrence for the general manager. I told the front desk manager that I thought the young receptionist needed domestic violence response training and asked if there was a program in place at the hotel? Does a program regarding hotel room domestic violence even exist?

Hotel domestic violence policy

I reached out to numerous hotels to ask if they had any type of domestic violence policy. Needless to say, only one person responded to my request for an interview.

After speaking with the General Manager, he stated, “Our procedures are to first investigate any complaint.  We offer the guest one warning.  In most cases this resolves any conflicts.  If the behavior continues or escalates, we include the local police.”

STAND for Families Free of ViolenceDomestic violence affects women

Domestic violence is a serious crime that affects one of four women at some point in her lifetime.

“As to what you should have done, let me first say that you did the right thing by following your intuition,” said Gloria J. Sandoval, Chief Executive Officer, STAND! For Families Free of Violence.

“I’m glad that you suppressed your urge to go next door to “rescue” the baby, although I’m sure with all your heart you wanted to do that! We do know that witnessing domestic violence or even being in a home where domestic violence occurs often has life-long and traumatic consequences for children, no matter how young they are.”

“On the other hand, intervening in domestic violence situations can be extremely delicate and sometimes lethal, which is one of the reasons that domestic violence agencies like STAND! are so important.  Centers are located across the country and the majority of them have 24/7 crisis lines.  In case you find yourself in a similar situation in your travels, you could look up the local Domestic Violence Agency and give them a call for advice or assistance. If you face this situation in the future, either in your travels or in your neighborhood, I would encourage you to call 911.”

Do you have experience with domestic violence? What steps would you have taken in this situation? Please leave a comment below.

Photo credits: top photo Domestic Violence Doesn’t Discriminate by Danny Marchewka. Silent Witness Table photo by Michael Cawelti.

Haunted Prison Tours: Three historic places of frightful fun

Monday October 21, 2013 at 11:11 AM | 2 Comments

Inside Ohio State Reformatory Cell Block One

Inside Ohio State Reformatory Cell Block One

The Ohio State  Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio is a creepy edifice of Victorian Gothic, Richardson Romanesque and Queen Anne  loveliness– even on a sunny day. Opened in 1896, its architecture was meant to inspire Ohio’s young bad boy men to reform themselves by turning to a more spiritual life. These days, come Halloween season, the prison’s creepiness sets the stage for another type of spirit–the ghostly, ghoulish and zombie-with-a-chainsaw kind.

The Haunted Prison Experience–each Thursday-Saturday through Nov. 2, is a fright fest guarantee. Last year, I had the pleasure of gripping a friends arm and shrieking my way up and down dark stairways,  around dark corners and past the peeling paint of  shadowy rows of cells that reached four stories high, anticipating the next time a ghoulish type either chased me with a chain saw or whispered in my ear, “I’m still here.” At each turn, there was a staged surprise–coffins where the dead person wasn’t quite dead, a burning car that blared its horn when we passed, a lightening flash and thunder crash that unexpectedly went off–that sort of thing. Creepily delicious.

Chainsaw carrying creepy guy

Chainsaw carrying creepy guy

Although, The Haunted Prison Experience is a show staged by actors, The Ohio State Reformatory is thought to be haunted. Ghost hunts are possible during other times of the year. The prison, closed in 1990, is also the prison that was used for the main setting of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.”

As a note, no one under 13 is allowed in the Haunted Prison Experience. Those who are under 13 can see the prison from May 1 to Sept. 1 during the prison’s regular tour season.

Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the temporary homes of bad boy Al Capone, is another Gothic-style prison that has crumbled into perfection to provide a haunted Halloween backdrop.  Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary, through Nov. 9, offers six Hollywood-like sets in various parts of the prison that scare and thrill due to actors trained to know how to up the fright factor depending upon the visitor.  Younger kids with parents get a toned down version unless they seem up for more. It’s recommended that kids 7-12 come during Family Night on Sundays. Those under 18 who tour without a parent or guardian need to have a signed waiver form.

Terror Behind Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary

Terror Behind Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary

Insider Tip: Buy tickets online. They are cheaper and you shouldn’t have more than a 30 minute wait once you arrive.

West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, another Gothic architectural style prison of creepy proportions, was opened in 1876 and closed in 1995. Back in the day, its active death row  sent almost 100 men to the electric chair or the gallows. The result of this activity has placed the West Virginia Penitentiary at the top of the most haunted places list.

Tours here are not Halloween specific and are April through November. For the creepiest experience, take the Twilight Tour, daily from 7-10 p.m.– or the Ghost Adventures on Saturday nights. There is an age constraint for each. Only children 12 and over can do the Twilight Tour. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Ghost Adventures has an 18 or over requirement. The younger crowd can go on a regular daily tour. The West Virginia Penitentiary is closed on Mondays and holidays.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association; Ohio State Reformatory photo courtesy of Mansfield/Richland County CVB; creepy guy photo courtesy of Jamie Rhein; and Terror Behind Walls photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Disclosure: My tour of the Ohio State Reformatory was courtesy of Mansfield/Richland County CVB, but the views are my own.