ARTIST: BRADLEY CAPELLO
Take a quick trip to paniolo country on Lana‘i, where world-class service meets old-world charm.
Though locals or visitors may not immediately think of vacationing on Lana‘i, the quiet island is the perfect getaway destination if you’re looking for serenity and adventure rolled into one. Upon arrival, jump right into an outdoors excursion at Lanai Grand Adventures, which offers activities like horseback riding, sport clay shooting, UTV rides, and hunting tours. Lanai Grand Adventures is run by paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) and national roping champion Bobby Farias. The paniolo have a long history in the islands. After initial European contact with the Hawaiian Islands, British Navy Captain George Vancouver gave longhorn cattle to King Kamehameha the Great in the 1790s. A generation later, the rampant longhorn needed taming, so Kamehameha III brought in skilled Spanish horsemen from Mexico called vaqueros to teach centuries-old skills of horsemanship and ranch management to Hawaiians. Since then, ranches, and the paniolo that steward them, have become integral to keeping land in Hawai‘i open, agricultural, and verdant.
After a long day of paniolo adventures, check in at one of the three accommodations on the island. The charming and historic Hotel Lana‘i is a nod to the past: The woodframed walls and whitewashed plank ceilings, the handsewn quilts and occasionally creaky floorboards are in the classic Hawaiian plantation style. Recently, the Four Seasons Lana‘i properties have been increasingly popular as wedding destinations for gay and lesbian couples. The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele is warm and inviting, something akin to a Colorado ski lodge. It would be easy to sit forever watching the sunset from the lodge’s patio, or sip whiskey in the Trophy Room before settling in for a quaint dinner at the American bistro Terrace. If it’s sunnier skies you’re looking for, Four Seasons at Manele Bay may be for you. Take a stroll down Manele’s broad, white-sand beach, Hulupo‘e Bay. A quick 15-minute hike towards the southeast end and you’ll arrive at Pu‘u Pehe, known as Sweetheart Rock, where dramatic cliffs accent aquamarine tide pools below. After a hot day in the sun, lounge by the sparkling blue pool with a refreshing cocktail from the pool bar and tapas from Nobu Lana‘i.
Stroll into Lana‘i City, the central hub of the entire island, for some local-style eats. Café 565 offers yummy Korean-style chicken and sushi platters, as well as gooey calzones. Or pick up breakfast at Canoes, where you can get a fried rice loco moco or other eclectic options like fried-rice-stuffed crepes and deep-fried Oreos. Walk off the food coma with Four Seasons Lodge’s garden tour. Strolling across manicured greens, past the orchid greenhouse, bamboo forest, and pagoda structure, you just might see an amazing and unexpected sight in paniolo country: a family of deer leaping through the brush or mouflon sheep grazing without care.