Author Topic: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta  (Read 41320 times)

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #90 on: January 04, 2015, 02:22:06 AM »
Wow, thanks for the update. I'm just hoping it'll be done in the next 2 weeks. ;) Can't wait to see the pics, but more importantly, read the report!

Is that when you're going?
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Offline Yehoshua

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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #92 on: January 04, 2015, 02:39:37 AM »
1/18

This installment should be up, but I doubt others will.
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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #93 on: January 04, 2015, 02:47:15 AM »
This installment should be up, but I doubt others will.
I'll take what I can get. Thanks!

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #94 on: January 19, 2015, 02:11:03 AM »
Day 4, Wednesday:

Today we woke up bright and early to be by the airport for our 6:30 AM flight to the island of Lanai.

Lanai is a small island off the southwest coast of Maui with one tiny community of around 3000 people. The entire island except for the airport and beaches is now owned by Larry Ellison, the 5th richest person in the world. Other than  two or three main roads, the island is crisscrossed only by 4WD dirt tracks. The main activities on the island are off-roading and swimming in remote and otherworldly beaches.

The vast majority of visitors (and there aren't many) who come from Maui take the Expeditions ferry out of Lahaina. Right away it didn't seem very practical - we would have to drive all the way from Upcountry to Lahaina, and then the crossing itself takes around an hour. Had it been whale season I suppose it would have been more enticing, but in the summer it's just a not particularly pleasing, bumpy trip. At $30 per person, per way, it wasn't cheap either.

Looking around some more I discovered that Mokulele Airlines is running a $39 fare sale Maui to Lanai - and my dates fit perfectly!

Mokulele is a hinky dinky airline who flies tiny little 7-passenger Cessna Grand Caravans between some of the islands. In Maui they fly from the commuter terminal, so no lines, no TSA, none of that garbage. For only $9 more per person per way than the boat, we would be getting a fantastic and unique flight, plus get there far faster as well.

So off I go to book - and hit error after error. None of the dates on sale were pricing out properly, no matter what. Calling customer service I was told that there are only a limited amount of these tickets per day, and they were all sold out. I pointed out to her the fact that for the entire week around my dates there was not a single ticket sold yet on any of their flights (they were all showing 7 seats available - the entire plane). I may as well have talked to the wall. Limited quantity blah blah blah.....

So I HUCA'd - and got the same lady ;D. Turns out they only have one CS rep. Oops ;). So I switched to email support and got their only email rep, who - luckily - was very helpful. First she couldn't find any record of such a sale, but thankfully I had screenshots. A while later she emails back - they had found the sale, but the person who loads the fares onto their website is on vacation now, so no fares could be loaded until he comes back. Oy oy :D.

After a couple of days I hear back from her - they guy is back at work and the fares are loaded. Five minutes later and I was booked  ;D.

The commuter terminal:



We parked our car in the lot on the right and were checked in 20 seconds later. After a couple of minutes a lady went around announcing that whoever is going to Lanai should follow her onto the tarmac.

The flight before ours preparing to taxi:



Heading out to our ride:



Not a bad looking bird, I think:



Boarding:



The pre-flight safety demo was epic: the pilot twisted around in his seat and rattled off the no smoking, no cellphones spiel in about 15 seconds flat:



I was assigned (by weight, supposedly) the back seat, which was actually a bench across the entire width of the plane. It was also the "exit row", so I had gobs of legroom and space:





(Yeah, yeah. I'd like to see you find a size 21 sneaker that looks less crazy  >:(. At this point the soles were being held together with crazy glue, as they had been shredded on the lava the day before. They would not survive the day :'()



Waiting for an Hawaiian inter-island flight to land before we could taxi:



Takeoff:







West Maui Mountain (you could see the Over the Top road and Kahakuloa Head all the way on the right):





The craggy, eroded south side of West Maui Mountain:



The Kaheawa wind farm:





I wish all airplanes had such large and beautiful windows:



Approaching Lanai - it's a dry, arid, dusty place:





Manele small boat harbor (where the ferry from Maui docks) is on the right, and the spectacular Four Seasons Manele Bay is on the left:



Note the reef on the right side, off Manele Beach. It's one of the best snorkeling in Hawaii, and that's where we were headed first:



Approaching the airport:




Touchdown:



The flight turned out to be tremendous fun. The views were incredible, the plane was unique and comfortable. As far as the smoothness of the flight, it felt exactly like riding in a minivan. We were doing 60mph, and every bit of wind felt like a bump in the road. Considering that most people don't take a helicopter ride on Maui (at least not as many as do on Kauai or the Big Island), this is a great - and relatively cheap - alternative. Of course it doesn't compare, but it's still fantastic.





Other than a couple of hangars and the like, this was the extent of the airport:



Gotta love the high-tech flight info board :D:



There are two places that rent Jeeps on Lanai. Dollar is quite popular, but they have far too many rules - you can't drive to certain places, and if you do any damage to the Jeep you're screwed. Maui Revealed however mentions a place called Adventure Lanai Ecocenter which has far better prices, no restrictions, and better service. There are also Hummers available from a third company, but these are quite expensive and don't really add anything over a Jeep.

I made my reservation with Adventure Lanai Ecocenter over the phone. The owner, Mikey, wouldn't stop talking - he told me about the sights to see, the history of the island, and made fun of New York weather. We arranged that he would meet us at the airport with the Jeep.

I had read reviews online that what he does is meet you at the airport, then asks that you drive him back home to Lanai City (more like Lanai Village, in reality). People were complaining about this "waste of time", but after my phone conversation with him I saw that he's a real character and looked forward to meeting him.

When we landed, there he was waiting for us, looking even more like a "character" than I expected.

Besides his rental business, he also grows "herbs" for "medicinal purposes":



On the way back to town we had a great schmooze about the island.

Up until a few years ago Dole Pineapple owned the vast majority and grew pineapple on about 90% of the land. When they pulled out of the island, the economy tanked and unemployment soared. In 2012 Larry Ellison bought the island and started to put it back in shape. He has full control over everything that happens on the island, and is more or less the only employer. The two run down hotels were turned into world-class and ultra-expensive Four Season resorts, and he reopened the farms. Instead of pineapple, he started growing all manner of odd crops. As we drove Mikey pointed out palm farms (the trees are sold to places like Texas, which doesn't have any native palms), grass farms (the most expensive golf course turf in the world comes from here), and all sorts of organic fruit and vegetable farms.

One thing we saw a disproportionate amount of that morning were grass mowing crews. Turns out that a few days earlier Larry had issued an edict that all grass on the island be cut to two and one-quarter inches; not more and not less. All these crews were busy bringing the island's grass up to snuff.

I asked Mikey a question that I had been wondering about: don't the locals resent living under what's essentially a king, who's every whim they have to bend to? His answer was very simple: "Yes, we totally resent the fact that everyone on the island has their own house, instead of the homelessness epidemic there used to be. We totally resent that everyone on the island now has a job. And what we resent most of all is being able to send some money to help out relatives on the mainland instead of the other way around".

According to Mikey the only people who are resentful at the moment are the gardeners. Instead of using their weed whackers all willy-nilly like they've always done, they now have to use motorized mowers which they claim takes all the fun out of it. You can't get the 2-1/4" precision needed with a weed whacker...

Right outside the airport:



As soon as we turned out of the airport and onto the main road, we started to "feel" Lanai. It's not something that can adequately be described in words; it just a certain level of tranquility, of relaxation, that I have never felt anywhere else. You could practically feel your bones melting away. The island is not particularly pretty, but it has this silence around it.

And no, Mikey didn't share any of his herbs with us ;D; you'll find online that this feeling is extremely common to visitors to the island.

We drove for miles without seeing a soul; whoever we did meet greeted us with a wave or shaka (that's the Hawaiian greeting Mikey's doing in the picture above). Even in town - every person on the street, every oncoming driver, even a group of kids, all waved to us. Pulling out of the gas station into traffic was almost an ordeal. "You go first". "No, you go first". "After you..." After a minute or two I gave in and went first. During this whole time there was a line of cars being held up - and what do you think they did? The waved at me! For someone who's driven in New York all his life, it was a bit freaky to drive in such an environment ;D...

The main highway on Lanai:





The weather of the day was typical Hawaiian - bright and sunny here, cloudy and threatening half a mile over, but warm and delicious as a whole.

Driving down the main street in Lanai City:





The only gas station on the island (amazingly enough their prices weren't insane by Hawaiian standards):



Lanai City must be one of the most misleading place names out there - Lanai Village would have been far more appropriate. This is just about the entire town:



So we dropped Mikey off at his house, and he loaded up the Jeep. Unlike the other rental place, he includes beach chairs, a cooler, and snorkeling or surfing gear (which we didn't need as we had brought our own). The Jeep itself was a 4-door Wrangler Unlimited Sport. Mikey gave us a hand-drawn map of the island as well as the important dirt tracks, along with a mountain of tips only a local would know, such as which rock on Shipwreck Beach we could expect turtles at between 1 and 2 o'clock (and turtles there were, right on schedule!).

Unfortunately, one of the things were had wanted to do most - the Munro Trail - had been permanently close to motorized traffic. No matter; there were plenty of other options. Off we headed to Manele Bay, one of the best snorkeling spots in all the islands.

Heading down to the bay:



Manele Bay is a spectacular bay on the southeast side of the island, and is quite close to Maui. The ferry puts in just on the other side and is about a five-minute walk away.

Since Lanai is arid, there is hardly and runoff so the ocean around it is crystal clear, second only to the Kona side of the Big Island. But unlike the Big Island, there are only a fraction of the amount of visitors here; that means far more fish and healthier coral. The reef here is famous for it's underwater topography, which looks like miniature canyons and ridges (it is actually sometimes referred to as an underwater Bryce Canyon).The beach itself is a perfect crescent of golden sand, fine and clean.

The water itself was still suffering the aftereffects of the double hurricane, so it was actually quite cloudy. However, even in this less than perfect state, it was still absolutely spectacular and the best snorkeling we had had, ever. I could only imagine what it would be like in normal conditions...

The surf was a tad choppy, but since there are no real places for the waves to bread offshore, once you were in the water is was completely calm; you'd just go a bit up and down with the swells. It was getting into the ocean which was tricky. At one point I got hit by a wave and drilled into the sand multiple times head over heel, but other than getting exfoliated by the sand in places that should not be exfoliated I was perfectly fine :P.

(A note about the underwater pictures: this was the first time I had done underwater photography of any sort, so the pictures are definitely not up to my usual standards. I had no underwater lighting, and it was all taken blindly with a GoPro (no way to see your composition or what you've shot). Some are still images, while others are video screen grabs, so these would be even lower quality. Add the fact that the water was far from its usual clarity......The vast majority of these picture were taken at depths of 15-20 feet.)

Looking back at the beach:





Most of the beach drops off to simple sand:



It's off to the left where the spectacular reef is.

Three Black Triggerfish, known as Humuhumu'ele'ele in Hawaiian:



Hawaiian Sergeant:



Orange-Spine Unicornfish:



Yellow Tangs:





You could see some of the interesting topography:




















Blue-Spine Unicornfish:



Yellow Tangs and Orangeband Surgeonfish:



Brown Surgeonfish:



Another Black Triggerfish:



Something Fishy Fish:



After a couple of hours of snorkeling Manele Bay we reluctantly packed up and headed to Shipwreck Beach, a wild remote beach only accessible by 4WD. The snorkeling is not supposed to be too good, and the channel between Lanai and neighboring Molokai is frequently to dangerous to swim. However, the appeal of this beach lies in its raw beauty and remoteness. Miles and miles of sand, an amazing view of Molokai, a WWII shipwreck, and not a soul around.

Mikey had pointed out on his map a spot along the beach where he had a so-called clubhouse. According to him, we could expect turtles to swim up to a certain rock in front of the clubhouse between 1 and 2 o'clock. We figured we'll see how well Mikey knows his turtles...

Leaving Lanai City and heading down to the ocean, the road starts out paved, but quickly turns into a deeply rutted and sandy track.

You could see Maui to the right, and Molokai to the left:





Before we know it, we were driving over this:









The "road" varies from dried mud, to rock, to deep sand. We were having the time of our lives speeding like maniacs, the Jeep bucking and bouncing. There wasn't anything that stood in our way; we just bounced over it. In fact we were having so much fun that we drove certain crazy stretches of the road over and over a couple of times  ;D:














Eventually we got to the "clubhouse". No word on how many serial killers were living in the compound:





The ocean was quite calm, so we went for a quick snorkel. However, the water was not very pretty, plus there weren't many fish or any reefs. To top it off, the area is notorious for it's shark population. Between the murky water and being this far from civilization we got out of the water pretty fast.







Instead we hauled out and got settled for some hardcore relaxation. Heaven on earth:



Right on time, a line of little bobbing heads became visible off in the ocean off to the right. The turtles have arrived, right on schedule :D. I counted at least 8 turtles; there may have been more. I got into the ocean hoping that they'll come up to me, but they were too skittish and went wide. The one turtle who let me come close enough to touch turned out to be a floating coconut ;D.

Funnily enough though, when I went over my videos from that time, I found out that a turtle had come up to within 6 inches of me. I was so focused on the ones avoiding me that I didn't even notice him at the time:





(Yeah, epic pictures 8). I know.)

The shipwreck off in the distance (this is a crop from a far larger picture, hence the blurriness):



All too soon it was time to leave the beach, and the island:


 
Back to Lanai City, where we picked up Mikey, and on to the airport:







You could think this guy is flying Air Force One, not a tiny puddle jumper :D:



Safety briefing:



Coming in for landing in Maui, over the sugar fields:



I was far too tired to shoot a proper sunset that night, but our little cottage looked spectacular in the late afternoon light:




Overall, I'd highly recommend Lanai as a day trip for anyone staying on Maui, especially if you could fly. It's unique, quiet, and is a fascinating place. But most of all is a feeling which can't really be described - a sort of deep relaxation, or peace. Even while running around all day there was always this tranquility.

That day on Lanai was the first (and so far only) time I told my wife, "forget about the stupid camera, I'm having too much fun". I was just in a different zone. (And let me reiterate: I did not try any funny herbs of Mikey's ;D)

Off to bed for an early night; it's sunrise on Haleakala tomorrow. One of the most spectacular things I have ever witnessed, yet one of the most irritating.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2018, 10:40:51 PM by Something Fishy »
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Offline MC

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #95 on: January 19, 2015, 02:25:54 AM »
Simply unreal. Wow.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #96 on: January 19, 2015, 02:29:04 AM »
Wow, can't wait to have time read the whole thing. Maybe tomorrow

Offline Buruch

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #97 on: January 19, 2015, 07:34:36 PM »
Sweet! How's the cottage? I was looking into places on maui, and that's one that comes up.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #98 on: January 19, 2015, 07:35:51 PM »
Sweet! How's the cottage? I was looking into places on maui, and that's one that comes up.

Phenomenal. Highly recommended if you don't mind the location.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2015, 07:42:03 PM by Something Fishy »
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Offline AJK

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #99 on: January 19, 2015, 07:36:22 PM »
Man, you write a good TR. I know how long this must've taken, too.
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Offline lunatic

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #100 on: January 19, 2015, 08:37:39 PM »
Love the writing style

Offline Ergel

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #101 on: January 19, 2015, 09:10:42 PM »
Awesome. Thanks for taking the time. Could one snorkel Manale bay with the boat rental I mentioned the Maui thread?
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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #102 on: January 19, 2015, 09:16:02 PM »
Great TR. What's irritating about the Haleakala sunrise ?

Offline VacationLover

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #103 on: January 19, 2015, 09:35:54 PM »
Wow o wow, I am going crazy on your photographic talent, that's besides your writing talent :D (BTW still didn't hear from you  ;))

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Re: Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta
« Reply #104 on: January 19, 2015, 11:17:21 PM »
Love the writing style
+100, so geshmak to read!