The Magical Island of Lana’i: 10 Fun Facts

  1. At just over 140 square miles, Lana’i is the sixth largest island of the Hawaiian island chain. During the 2010 census, Lana’i’s counted just 3,102 residents. Nearly all reside in the former pineapple plantation town of Lana’i City.
  2. One legend says that Lana’i was once inhabited by man-eating spirits until a hooligan Maui prince, Kaulua’au, was sent to the island as punishment by his father for pulling up a bread tree. The king expected his son to die on the island. Instead, the prince flourished and drove the spirits away. As a reward, he was given control of the island.
  3. Where the name Lana’i came from is not known. In the past, the island was often referred to by the full name “Lānaʻi o Kauluaʻau”. In a nod to the Maui prince mentioned above, the translation is “day of the conquest of Kauluaʻau,” .
  4. The first inhabitants of Lana’i were thought to be from Maui and Molokai. They establishing fishing villages along the coastline, but were nearly all wiped out when King Kamehameha I united the eight Hawaiian islands with his very iron fist.
  5. In 1921, the first pineapple was planted on Lana’i. It took just a year for Charles Dole (Dole pineapple ring a bell?) bought the island for the purpose of growing pineapple. Lana’i soon acquired the nickname the Pineapple Island. By 1930, the tiny island was exporting over 65,000 tons of pineapple a year. The final harvest of pineapple on Lana’i occurred in 1992. People still refer to it as the Pineapple Island, though.
  6. Lana’i officially became a part of Maui County in 1959 when Hawaii was admitted into the United States.
  7. There are no traffic lights on Lana’i. Lana’i High and Elementary School, which educates children from kindergarten through 12th grade, is the only school on the island. There’s also just one hospital.
  8. Snorkeling around Lana’i is some of the best in the entire state of Hawaii. The most affordable way to snorkel Lana’i is to take boat tour from Lahaina. These tours on Hawaii Ocean Project include breakfast, lunch, unlimited drinks, gear and professional instruction and safety. (See below for a special offer!)
  9. Oracle (a software company) founder and billionaire Larry Ellison owns 98% of the island, while the state owns the other 2%. Ellison also owns nearly 1/3 of all the housing (the state owns the other 2/3) and pretty much every other business on the island, including two Four Seasons hotels. He also spent millions refurbishing the island’s lone movie theater and constructing a resort-style Olympic-sized public pool. He worked with the state to update the water filtration system in Lana’i City and built a domestic violence center for women.
  10. While snorkeling is the main attraction on Lana’i, the island has three golf courses, two affiliated with the two Four Seasons resorts and one a free, nine hole course. Bill Gates was married on one of the Four Seasons courses.

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the Island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promocode VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.

A Brief History of Pirates in Hawaii

Unlike the Caribbean, there hasn’t been a long history of pirate activity in Hawaii. But there is one incident, one that many believe was the last large-scale pirate attack in the territories of the United States, which is truly unbelievable. So unbelievable, in fact, that while the raid was documented by a California newspaper, we’re not totally sure it’s true, as we cannot find other supporting documents. Whether or not it’s true, it’s certainly an intriguing story. Here is the account of the Great Pirate Raid of Honolulu, as reported by the Daily Alta newspaper of San Francisco on December 15, 1884.


Why Hurricanes Rarely Hit Hawaii

Hurricane season in Hawaii usually falls between the months of June and November. However, as exemplified by Hurricane Lane, hurricanes, or tropical cyclones, rarely strike the Hawaiian islands directly. In fact, in nearly 150 years, only three hurricanes have reached landfall in Hawaii. The most recent was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which devastated Kauai, caused $1.8 billion in damages and killed six people. Prior to that only two other hurricanes had reached landfall in Hawaii. Hurricane Dot arrived in 1959 and an unnamed storm occurred in 1871. According to the NOAA historical hurricane database, from 1950 – 2017, only 14 hurricanes have ever passed within 200 miles of Hawaii.


A Brief History of Macadamia Nuts

Originating in Australia, the first macadamia tree was planted on the Big Island in 1881 by William Purvis. The Jordan brothers followed up with their own trees in 1892. Known for their sweet, rich flavor, macadamia nuts quickly became popular among sugar barons who came to the Islands to start the sugar industry.

Ernest Van Tassel, of the Hawai’i Macadamia Nut Company, began commercial planting of the nuts in 1921. After facing many adversities in growing healthy trees, Van Tassel was finally able to begin processing the nuts in 1934.


A Brief History of the Ukulele in Hawaii

The Hawaiian-style ukulele (“jumping flea”), pronounced in Hawaii as ooh (like boo)-koo-lele, as opposed to the more popular form you-ka-laylay, is a staple in Hawaiian music and culture. It is thought to have arrived here in the form of a Portuguese musical instrument called a machete in the 19th century. The machete, though, is not quite the same instrument as the ukulele. While both have wooden, smallish guitar-like bodies, the machete uses metal strings, while the ukulele uses nylon or catgut (natural fibers found in animal intestines… not a cat!) strings.


Popular Tropical Cocktails on Maui

Sure, you may look like a tourist while sitting at a beach bar with an aloha shirt, sunglasses, a straw hat and big fruity drink with an umbrella or pineapple wedge hanging precariously off the rim of the glass, but damn… who cares? Tropical drinks can be served anywhere in the world. This is fact. But tropical drinks taste better when served in a tropical environment. This is opinion. But most people share this opinion! We’ve compiled a list of the most popular tropical cocktail drinks on Maui. If we were able to track down the history of the drink, we’ve included it. If not, or if it’s maybe something we made up, well, then you’ll just get the ingredients. Bottoms up!


A Brief History of Plate Lunches in Hawaii

Though poke is now a “thing” on the mainland, here in Hawaii the plate lunch is still king. So what is a plate lunch? Simply, a plate lunch is a scoop of macaroni salad, two scoops or rice and some sort of protein. Popular proteins include chicken katsu (fried chicken breasts or thighs, pictured above), kalua pig, shrimp, kalbi ribs, pork lau lau and of course, loco moco. Most places also serve a “mini” plate, which includes just one scoop of rice and cut-down portion of the meat.


A Brief History of “Slippahs” in Hawaii

Here in Hawaii, we don’t call them flip-flops, thongs, zoris or jandals. No, they’re slippers, or slippahs. We wear them at all times and for every occasion. Whether we’re headed out to a fancy dinner, around the corner to the grocery store, or to the beach, slippers are usually on our feet. But where did slippers come from and when they first appear in Hawaii?