After you've explored one or several of Hawaii's more-developed islands—Oahu, The Big Island, Maui and Kauai—the relatively secluded islands of Lanai and Molokai make a pleasant and laid-back addition to a Hawaiian holiday. These less-visited Hawaiian islands are easy to reach by inter-island flights and ferries.
Lanai earned its nickname "The Pineapple Island" back in 1922 when it was purchased for $1.1 million by James D. Dole, who developed Lanai's agriculture to such an extent that it was eventually supplying 70 percent of the world's pineapples. The island is only 13 miles wide and 18 miles long, with expanses of cloud forests ringed by secluded white-sand beaches and rugged red lava cliffs. Lanai has just 29 miles of paved roads, no stoplights and a single gas station.
In addition to enjoying the island's relaxed pace and natural beauty, you can tee off at two golf courses. The Challenge at Manele is an 18-hole course built on lava outcroppings overlooking Huopoe Bay. The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and every hole has ocean views, with three holes on cliffs utilizing the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard. During the winter, it's possible to catch a glimpse of migrating whales from the fairway.
Greg Norman and architect Ted Robinson designed the 18-hole Experience at Koele course. This highland terrain championship course offers views of mountains and lush greens, with the ocean in the distance.
When you're in Lanai City, pencil in a visit to the Lanai Cultural and Heritage Center for a look at the island's intriguing past. Exhibits chronicle 1,000 years of history, from early settlers through the plantation years. The center also includes historic photos and cultural materials from various immigrant groups, including Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Puerto Rican.
The island of Molokai has a mystique all its own, complete with expansive cattle ranches and Hawaiian cowboys and a past that includes a 19th-century island leper colony overseen by the benevolent Father Damien and Sister Marianne, who served the patients in the colony and are being considered for sainthood in the Catholic church.
Molokai has only 7,000 residents and is often called "The Friendly Isle." A series of three volcanoes divides the island into three major areas, which are designated East Molokai, the Central Hoolehua Plain and West Molokai. Scenic wonders include sea cliffs, waterfalls, rainforests and Papohaku, a white sand beach stretching three miles along the western coast. Molokai's south shore has an extensive coastal reef system, with offshore reefs stretching over 14,000 acres. Here, you'll see numerous ancient stone-walled fishponds built within the protective reef barrier by native Hawaiians.
Activities on the island include mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding and watersports. Golfers can tee off at the oceanfront Kaluakoi Champion Course, designed by Theodore Robinson. The par 72 course has island and ocean views, with five holes played along the coastline. Standard green fees for 18 holes, including golf cart, are $70 per player. For more information, call 808-552-0255 or e-mail [email protected]
The pace is relaxed in Molokai. You won't find strip malls, huge stores or wild nightlife. There are no traffic lights on the island and no buildings taller than a coconut tree. For a splash of local color, head down to the Farmer's Market, held every Saturday morning in Kaunakakai, the island's largest town.