going holoholo to lana`i (part 3 of 3): two great adventures

Lana‘i hasn’t been nicknamed “Hawai‘i’s Most Enticing Island” for nothing—there’s a lot to do, provided you’re willing to tear yourself away from the beach, swimming pool, and golf course for awhile and go off the beaten path. My gal pal Janet and I participated in two interesting and highly entertaining adventures during our recent stay on Lana‘i.

UTV & Shoot with Lana‘i Western Adventures

Janet and I meet Dennis from Lana‘i Western Adventures at the Stables at Koele, a short walk from the Lodge of the same name. We hop aboard a green and black UTV (utility terrain vehicle) and, with Dennis at the wheel, take off for parts as yet unknown. We bump over unmarked dirt roads that are also used by hunters (I sure hope Dennis knows where he’s going!), through Ironwood forests, over a ridge with stunning views of Maui and Moloka‘i and, after five dusty miles, we reach our destination: the Lana‘i Pine Sporting Clays.

We meet cowboy extraordinaire Bob Farias, who owns and operates Lana‘i Western Adventures. “We offer guests a unique setting in which to experience some family fun,” he says. In addition to the sporting clays, they also have a 3-D archery range for youths, and an air rifle range for keiki, and offer UTV rides on the historic Munro Trail, horseback riding through unspoiled territory, and horse-drawn carriage rides to Lana‘i City.

But we’re here for the clay shooting. Janet is really looking forward to this activity, but I have to admit I’m not so sure it’s my cup of tea. Nevertheless, we sign our lives away at the office with Sid, and are issued ammo vests, earplugs, and safety glasses for Janet. Dennis assures me my own prescription glasses will suffice.

Once at the shooting shack, Dennis gives instruction: “Place the butt of the rifle against your right shoulder, press your right cheek against the barrel, cradle the front of the rifle with your left hand, your left forefinger follows the clays (target discs), keep your left eye closed, and shoot.”

Janet goes first. When she says “pull,” I press a button to release the clay. Dennis instructs Janet to slowly say “there it goes,” then pull the trigger. She misses. And misses again. Dennis’s keen powers of observation tell him Janet is having trouble keeping her left eye closed. He leaves for a few minutes and returns with a new pair of safety glasses with tape strategically placed over the left lens. It works! Janet nails the next few clays like a true pro.

Now it’s my turn. I’m surprised by how exhilarating it is to hit a clay, and I do a “happy dance” (basically jumping around in a circle) when I hit my first one. Being way more refined than me, Janet had simply taken it in stride. After we’ve exhausted our allotment of clays, the aroma of gunpowder permeates the shooting shack. I’d thought I was too “girly” to enjoy an activity like this, but it was way fun!

Dennis lets me drive the UTV back to the stables. As with the clay shooting, he’s very patient, and “backseat drives” only when absolutely necessary. “It’s usually a good idea to brake before the curve instead of when you’re in the middle of it,” he teases. And, “there’s only one bush out here, and you managed to hit it.” Oops!

The UTV goes up to 30 mph, but I never go over 20. I want Janet to remain my friend. We stop for a photo op and, when I remember to start the engine, release the hand brake, and put the UTV in gear, I receive high praise from Dennis: “You’re a quick learner,” he deadpans.

Luxury SUV Tour with Rabaca’s Limousine and Off-Road Tours

Janet and I meet up with Bruce, our guide from Rabaca’s Limousine and Off-Road Tours, who’ll be taking us on an excursion to noteworthy sights on Lana‘i. We sink into the cool and comfy leather seats of his blue Chevy Suburban and off we go.

Just past the Lodge at Koele, Bruce turns onto a dirt road called Polihua. “This is the 405 freeway on Lana‘i,” he jokes. Our first stop is Keahiakawelo or the “Garden of the Gods.” It’s a dry lava bed containing beautiful stacks of rock formations, which give it an eerie Mars-like topography. The name “Garden of the Gods” comes from a tale in Hawaiian folklore that the gods tended to their gardens by dropping rocks and boulders from the sky. They then made the fierce winds to sculpt their creations.

We next head to the northeast side of the island to Kaiolohia, also known as “Shipwreck Beach,” so named because, since the 19th century, it’s been the site of a watery demise for many vessels. The British vessel “Alderman Wood” was the first documented shipwreck in 1824, followed by the American ship “London.” But the most famous resident here is a World War II Liberty Ship, a ferrous-concrete oil tanker built in the 1940s. Unlike other unfortunate vessels, this ship doesn’t live here by accident—it was placed here as an economical disposal method. Today, the beach is completely devoid of any humans besides us, and we see two turtles frolicking in the gorgeous aquamarine waters near the shore.

Back on the Keomuku Highway, we turn left onto Cemetery Road to experience a portion of the Munro Trail, named for George Munro, a naturalist from New Zealand, who came to Lana‘i in 1890. Munro is responsible for much of the lush vegetation on the island, having planted Cook Pines on the mountain ridge to capture moisture from passing clouds, which seeps down the trees and into the underground aqueducts, and provides fresh water for residents. We aren’t going to drive the entire trail today—it takes about three hours to do so—but we do stop at an overlook of the massive Manawai Gulch, where we can see Maui and Moloka‘i in the distance.

We head back to Lana‘i City for a stop at the Lana‘i Culture & Heritage Center. The exhibits inside are organized by cultural and historical themes, with an emphasis on the 1,000 years of Hawaiian residency since the early settlement of the island, through the end of the plantation era. An interesting timeline along the perimeter of the ceiling depicts the period of time from 1.5 million years ago, when Lana‘i first rose above sea level, to 1992, when the final pineapple harvest took place. The center also contains some lovely paintings by resident artists Mike Carroll and Wendell Kaho‘ohalahala.

Our last stop is the Lana‘i Arts & Cultural Center, where we’re treated to a visual myriad of colorful art and craft items produced by local artisans—weaving, knitting, jewelry, carvings, paintings, and more—all for sale at reasonable prices. Staffed by volunteers, the Center’s mission is “to bring the possibilities of artistic creation to people who would not ordinarily have those opportunities.” They offer classes and studio time, and their schedule of visiting instructors includes writing workshops, folk arts, and oil painting with recognized masters.

Our four hours with Bruce have passed quickly and pleasantly. On our next visit to Lana‘i, which we hope is very soon, Janet and I want to experience the entire Munro Trail with Bruce. Hold onto your hats—it’ll be one wild ride!

–heidi pool

1 Response to “going holoholo to lana`i (part 3 of 3): two great adventures”

  1. 1 themauiconcierge November 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Website for Expeditions Ferry from Lahaina to Lanai.
    Website for island of Lanai

    Have a great trip!

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