Regurgitating what I heard at the jeep rental office, Lanai is home to more deer than human beings. That’s right; Lanai’s population is under 4,000 (which is smaller than the college I went to). Most all citizens of Lanai live in the center of the island in Lanai City, so you would be foolish not to drive through “downtown” to see what neighborhoods, grocery stores, and school houses look like on such an uninhabited island.
Lanai Avenue is the “Las Vegas Strip” of the island, and central nervous system providing access to cross roads and smaller streets. Keep you eyes peeled for the cross streets of 7th Street and 8th Street, where you will want to search for parking (don’t worry, you will find a spot).
Once parked, you will find yourself in the center of Lanai City. Walk a lap around Dole Park and stop in to each of the locally run stores, art galleries, and cafes (there are only about 20). Poke you head into Pine Isle Market and take a look at what a gallon of milk costs or how much a carton of eggs will set you back. Head over to Lanai High & Elementary School to get an understanding of where all the kids on Lanai walk to school each day (and where I played my tennis match in high school). Take a picture with a sign post that points out how many miles Lanai is from popular travel destinations. Stop by the Lanai Playhouse and imagine it filled to capacity for a high school play or evening performance. And absolutely satisfy your tastebuds at Blue Ginger Café, Café 565, or Sweetest Days Ice Cream.
A walk around Dole Park will have you feeling like you just stepped out of Marty McFly’s Delorean and found yourself in the early 1900s. Picture and old wild west town where everyone knows everyone, there is one store for each major service, and people are excited to meet the new person in town that just got off the train (or in this case the Lanai Ferry). The locals will great you will big smiles, shaka signs, and questions about where you are from.
A trip to Lanai might not be on many agendas for first time visitors to Maui, but I would highly recommend discovering this neighboring island’s secret joys.