The so-called “Pineapple Island” was once effectively owned by pineapple plantations, and especially the Kiheiwaiian Pineapple Company (renamed Dole), who was the primary U.S. source of Maui Gold pineapples. This changed in the 1980’s, when the plantations scaled back operations and entrepreneur David Murdock enticed Four Seasons to build two five-star resort hotels on the southern tip of the island. In 2014, tech billionaire Larry Ellison, bought the island, or at least 98 percent of the 140 square mile, 3,200-person island, to make it the “first economically viable, 100 percent green community.”
Although we stayed on and spent a few days touring the entire island a number of years ago, we decided to take a ferry from Maui to the southern tip of the island for a day trip to Manele Harbor (home of the Four Seasons), Sweetheart Rock and Holopo’e Beach. We went there to reacquaint ourselves with the pretty area and to snorkel among the fish and limited coral. But deep down inside, our primary hope was to relive one of the most fascinating wildlife encounters we have ever had when we were snorkeling in Manele Bay when, all of the sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of a pod of spinner dolphins. Although they could have easily sped away from us, they chose to accompany us, remaining a mere arm’s-length away. No, we did not touch them, but we did occasionally extend our arms to allow them to easily touch our hands if they followed their current courses. They chose to remain just beyond our touch but continued to swim around us for what was probably about 15 minutes, An absolutely magical experience.
This trip began was less eventful. No, we didn’t snorkel with dolphins, but we did enjoy the four island view (Maui, Lanai’i, Mokali’I and the Big Island) and we pleasantly surprised to see a whale, pre-season, on both our ferry trips to and from the island. We saw spouts in both directions and the hump of one that just broke the surface. Then there were the shear, roughly 150-footcliffs that plunged into the ocean just outside the entrance of Manole Harbor.
Upon our arrival, we took part of the heritage cultural trail (learning about the pre-Western period and how the introduction of sheep and goats denuded Lanai’i’s fragile ecosystem sand forced the natives to abandon their coastal village in the late 19th century. When we arrived at the Four Seasons, we did what we do every trip—assess the restaurant and menu options and select the restaurant best suited to our interests at the moment. In this case, we chose The View, a suitably-lovely, appropriately-named spot at the golf course (a mile+-uphill ride in one of the hotel’s Mercedes’ vans). From the moment we arrived, we were greeted and totally taken care of by the wonderful Josie. We got one of the best view in the house (a balcony booth overlooking the southern shore), from the harbor to rock, the graceful arc of the beach and the bay.
After a delightful lunch with a view (see below), we were picked up by a hotel vans, and taken to what we were told what was the best snorkeling spot on the island. We entered the water on the left-most side of the beach and snorkeled along the lava rock-based shoreline, around Sweetheart Rock, and back. A lovely snorkel over coral heads the entire trip (mostly brown rock, punctuated with patches of lovely green and white). The reef was punctuated with sandy-floored canyon floors and lovely sealife including schools of hundreds of bright yellow tangs, numbers of black/blue-striped triggerfish and black/orange Achilles tangs, huge (2.5-3-foot turquoise parrotfish and groups of large, marauding sea urchin.
The View, the Four Seasons’ golf course-restaurant with a wonderful view, atmosphere and service. With our delightful server Josie taking us under her wing from the moment we arrived, how could we go wrong: Two very good dishes: prawn BLT with chili-lime sauce; and shrimp and lobster quesadilla with mozzarella and cheddar cheese, pineapple salsa and sour cream and a spectacular view.