One of the true pleasures of traveling to Lānaʻi last month was meeting many friendly residents who live on the small Hawaiian island. Just 3,200 people make their home on Lānaʻi, and they all seem to know one another. It was actually pretty funny, how we kept running into the same folks over and over again, and how everyone seemed to have a connection with one another.
For example, we met prolific artist Mike Carroll and his lovely wife Kathy at a “meet and greet” the Lanai Visitors Bureau arranged for me and my travel companion Kristina at the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center early in our stay. I recognized Mike, having seen him in the lobby of the Four Seasons Manele Bay that morning, where he was working on a painting and selling some of his work — lovely images of Hawaii that are equally pretty, colorful and evocative. When we were at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele later in the week, there was Mike again! And the day before we left, we found him at his Lanai City gallery — where I bought two prints and Kristina bought four. Seriously, I don’t think the man sleeps.
Side note: If you like to bring home local artwork from your travels, by all means, peruse the ready-to-frame prints (as low as $18) and original oil paintings on offer at the Mike Carroll Gallery on 7th Street across from Dole Park.
Here are a few more
six two-degrees-of-separation tales:
At Lanai Pines Sporting Clays, retail manager Jennifer greeted me with, “Oh, you met my daughter at the Lanai Cultural Center last night!” Indeed, high-school student Micah is helping the Lānaʻi Visitors Bureau with some blogging and social media tasks.
We also talked with personable Todd Yamaoka, manager of the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, at our Lānaʻi Cultural Center “meet and greet,” and then later ran into him during happy hour at Pele’s Other Garden — the only restaurant in Lanai City besides Hotel Lānaʻi’s Lānaʻi City Grille with a liquor license, so it’s a popular local watering hole.
Sid, our awesome clay-shooting instructor, told us we had to go to Pele’s Other Garden and ask owner Mark to make us a cappuccino martini. We’d already enjoyed a great dinner at the restaurant, but who were we to argue? So, we returned for a late lunch one afternoon, and owner Mark Zigmond indeed made us a few specialty drinks. Over the course of two hours (!) we chatted with him about his move to Lānaʻi from New Jersey in the mid-1990s.
Also at Pele’s Other Garden eating lunch that day, the lovely Charity Texiera, our main contact at the Lānaʻi Visitors Bureau, who was dining with two of her kiddos. It was so fun to see Charity — so helpful in arranging our trip — one last time before we departed the island.
Side note: We enjoyed two great meals at Pele’s Other Garden, which is a deli by day and Italian restaurant by night. The bruschetta (with locally grown basil), thin-crust pizza, bean and rice burrito and veggie burger were all quite good.
Speaking of basil, we had a delightful time talking to Basil, our server at the Four Seasons Manele Bay’s Ocean Grill. Ever the journalist (or nosy broad), I regularly asked any residents we encountered, “What brought you to Lanai?” or “What do you do in your spare time here?” or “Don’t you ever go stir crazy on this tiny island?” Basil told us he adores the outdoors and he goes spearfishing (!) every opportunity he gets.
Later I was telling Lisa Grove, whose company provides services for the Lānaʻi Visitors Bureau, about our encounter with friendly Basil, and she said that she actually hosted Basil and his girlfriend in Portland, Oregon (Lisa’s former home), without ever having met them before (via another two-degrees-of-separation Lānaʻi connection). These are the types of welcoming, generous people that Lanai seems to attract.
In fact, Lisa has a fascinating story of how she moved her family to Lānaʻi. She and her husband Stephen were vacationing on the island in late 2008, fell in love with the laid-back lifestyle, and started talking to real-estate agents and viewing available houses before they even returned home to Portland.
After the mai-tais wore off back on the mainland, Lisa says, they remained committed to moving to Lanai, and put an offer in on a house five days later. Lisa, Stephen and son Max relocated to Lānaʻi full time last July, and Max goes to the local elementary school. Lisa’s company is headquartered in Oregon, and with the technology the island offers and her great Portland staff, she can work from Lānaʻi. The family surf kayaks, bikes and camps as often as possible.
Lisa was another person we kept running into all over the island. When we saw her eating breakfast at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele before our Kokoiki Ridge Hike, she reiterated, “You guys should come over for a drink!” Again, who are we to refuse such a genuine invitation. So, before our final dinner on the island, we stopped by Lisa’s darling plantation-style home for some wine and delicious homemade baba ghanoush.
We spent much of our time with Lisa talking about her thwarted spring break plans. She and her lovely family were scheduled to go to Tokyo in early March — the day after the recent record-breaking earthquake hit! Naturally, they had to cancel those plans, and so not to disappoint her son, they re-booked a trip to Seattle for an urban getaway. Alas, the trio could not get off the island, since at the time, the ferry to Maui wasn’t running because the wave surges had knocked out a dock at Manele Harbor. She could have re-booked (again) her flights from Lānaʻi to Honolulu, but last-minute prices were exorbitant for such a short trip. So, she had to cancel those vacation plans, too.
On our final day on the island, Kristina and I spent an ultra-relaxing morning poolside at the Four Seasons Manele Bay — and who did we run into, but Lisa and Steve! They decided to salvage their son’s spring break by treating themselves to a few nights at the swanky resort. Lisa and Steve were enjoying some couples’ only time in the pool while their son Max made new friends at the Four Seasons Kids For All Seasons kids’ club. I asked Lisa how Max was enjoying the kids’ facility, and she said, “Oh, great. The woman who runs it is one of the moms we know from school…”
See, everyone knows everyone on this little island. Yes, you can certainly visit Lānaʻi and hide out — I can certainly understand wanting to go on vacation and simply enjoy quiet time by yourself. But on Lānaʻi, where it’s so easy to chat with friendly locals, who want to share the treasures of the island or their stories of how they arrived to live here, I encourage visitors to reach out and get to know the residents. They are truly a delight!
I am one of seven New Media Artists visiting Lānaʻi courtesy of the Lānaʻi Visitors Bureau from January to May; following along on Twitter with the hashtag #visitlanai!