Saturday, October 7, 2017

Visiting Maui? Take a day trip to Lanai

Maui brings visions of beaches shaded by tall palm trees, sunsets glistening on ocean waves, and hikes to beautiful waterfalls. All of that is reason enough to visit this popular Hawaiian island.
Near the beach there are trails to follow, many with volcanic rock
creating stunning views--and rocky paths.
After experiencing all these things on previous visits—and again when we returned—my husband and I decided to venture to Lanai. We had not been to this lesser-known island but had heard about great snorkeling and unspoiled beaches. Lanai is the smallest publicly accessible island of the Hawaiian chain and is also called the Pineapple Island because of its past as an island-wide plantation. Because most roads on the island require four-wheel drive, arriving by boat seemed like a good way to check it out.

Lounging on the trampoline, enjoying the
sail to Lanai
So we booked a full day excursion with Sail Maui on a catamaran called Paragon. Our group of eight had the most fantastic crew led by Captain Ray and Lacey. I highly recommend them—and no, I do not receive any compensation for mentioning this company.
The April day could not have been more perfect—sunny but not too hot with dainty white clouds in the sky and sparkling blue water for contrast. Most of us settled in on the trampoline—the netted area at the front of the catamaran—to enjoy the pleasant ride. Breakfast breads, fresh fruits, yogurt, and drinks filled our tummies once we embarked on the journey to Lanai.

Dolphins can often be found in these waters.
While we expected to see fish while snorkeling, the biggest surprise—and an awesome bonus to the trip—was spotting a pod of dolphins. Literally hundreds of the magnificent animals followed our boat, jumping in and out of the water in groups of two, three, or four at a time. Although Lacey said the pod seemed sleepy and not as active as on some days, we were thoroughly delighted with the show.
And we did stop to snorkel, with the crew providing top notch gear. The water was cool, especially over deep areas, the best places to see many varieties of coral and fish. As usual, we spent a good bit of time snapping photos of the moving targets with our waterproof cameras.

Larry enjoys lunch with the sandy beach
in the background.
At Manele Harbor we disembarked the catamaran for almost two hours of free time. Sail Maui provided each guest with a cooler containing lunch: sandwiches in the variety that we had pre-selected, fresh pasta salad, chips, and cookie plus bottled water. Larry and I took our bags and walked to the beach where we found a picnic table in the shade.
Exploring the rugged coastline of Lanai
Getting to Lanai on your own isn’t easy, although a ferry does take people there. As expected the beach was not crowded—mostly locals wandering on the smooth sand or snorkeling around the rocky shore further down.

The upper cliff as it extends over the water is called Sweetheart Rock.
While there we chose to hike to Sweetheart Rock, an enormous cliff with expansive views of the ocean. This took all our remaining time, partly because we just had water sandals on, not shoes more appropriate for trekking over the rocky path. But the climb was well worth the effort, even if we did have to jog to return to the boat on time.
One last dive into the sea
Back on the catamaran, Lacy served a platter of fresh vegetables and dip to snack on as we sipped adult drinks and soaked up sun and scenery. Soft brownies and more drinks later made sure we didn’t go hungry. As the boat neared shore, Ray stopped so we could have a final dip in the ocean before returning to the dock at Lahaina. It was a long day but one of the best.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier




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