The Garden of the Gods

On our last day in Lanai, we asked directions and four-wheeled our way to the Graden of the Gods. This high, windswept point was formed by centuries of erosion, and resembles a lunar landscape. There is very little vegetation, and the rocks and soil give off a reddish-brown color…Hence, the association to Mars. The legend is better: Two kahunas (priests) became involved in a contest to see which could maintain a fire the longest. The winner between Lanai and Molokai would be blessed with bounties from the land. This area of Lanai was laid to waste in order to provide fuel for their fire.

The roads on Lanai are paved from the ferry and airport to town, and from the Four Seasons on the coast to the Four Seasons on the high plain. Everything else outside of Lanai City is traversed via dirt roads, requiring four wheeling of some sort. All the rental cars are Jeep Wranglers. It would seem to be a perfect spot for mountain bikers.

Also of note: Larry Ellison of Oracle has purchased 98% of the island. He bought it for roughly 300 million dollars from Richard Murdoch, who gave up on trying to make Lanai work. He bought it from the Dole Company, who discovered that Lansi was perfect for growing pineapples. They imported Philippine and Japanese labor  and built Lanai City to house them. But Dole gave up on Lanai because the price of pineapples declined with competition from Puerto Rico and Central America. Even before all this, the native people saw Lanai as the Redheaded Stepchild to Maui.  So it is now Larry Elder’s chance to make Lanai prosper. He has infused the island with money and manpower. The high lodge is closed down while he renovates the Lodge on the shoreline. Unemployment is down and optimism is up. Water supply has always been Lanai’s limitation, but there is a plan to build a desalination plant. Rumor has it that Larry wants to build a third upscale lodge and increase the population to 6000. There is a plan to have the high Lodge become a spa/yoga retreat. The next few years will be interesting and important for this hideaway that most tourists see from a distance but never visit.

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