Welcome to Dream Vacations, a lifestyle column on travelling to amazing destinations with practical advice and my revelations about locales from years of personal experience. If you have visited some of the main islands of Hawaii, you will have undoubtedly seen or heard of the rare gems that few visitors get to visit: Ni’ihua, Lanai and Molokai. These three islands are exotic paradises and with few visitors in comparison to the main islands. However, all three are available for a daytrip!
The Forbidden Island: Ni’ihua
Probably the hardest or the most expensive to visit will be Ni’ihua, as it name implies there are very limited opportunities to visit this reclusive paradise. The island has actually been owned by the same bloodline family, the Sinclair’s, since it was sold to them in 1864 by Hawaiian King Kamehameha V for $10,000 worth of gold. The Robinsons, direct descendants of the Sinclair’s, still own the island and it is populated with at most 170 residents, including original Niihauans. It is a place forgotten by modernity. It has no roads, cars, stores, or internet.
The island is closed to visitors and has no hotels or resorts. The only way to visit the sights of this forgotten wonderland is a Helicopter or Safari hunting tour both run by the Robinsons. Both tours avoid the native Niihauan village and focus on the beauty and seclusion of the island’s wildlife and natural wonders. Surprisingly, this island is only 17 miles from Kauai.
Garden of the Gods: Lanai
A 45-minute ferry ride from Maui puts you on Lanai for a day-trip filled with adventure including the stunning rock formations known as the Garden of the Gods, a marine reserve at Hulopoe Bay and Shipwreck beach. The island (or 98% of it) was bought in 2012 by Larry Ellison (of Oracle company fame) after the closure Dole’s pineapple plantation. It boasts only two hotels, the super-exclusive Lanai Four Seasons and a very limited room 1930’s style residence hotel in Lanai City. Without many people, 3,000 residents in total and no stop lights on the island you can enjoy a day of exploration. You are best to go as part of a tour as car rental and transportation options are limited. Of course, you may want to be experienced in off-road driving if you do decide to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle as well as only 30 of the 400 roads on the island are paved.
The Friendly Isle: Molokai
Unfortunately, the ferry ride from Lahaina, Maui has just shut-down, but local airlines are cheap and just as quick. Did you know can also see the seaside cliffs of Molokai from Maui? Known as the tallest sea cliffs in the world, a kayak tour along their base will leave you speechless. To put them in perspective, at their tallest, 4,000 feet, they are almost half as tall as the tallest structure on earth, Mount Everest. Imagine a cliff of that height rearing up in front of your seemingly infinitesimally small kayak?
It is another island with no stop lights, and Molokai also has just over 3,000 year-round residents, most of which are native Hawaiians. Culture takes centre stage on Molokai, home of the Hula, one of the last remaining Royal Coconut Palm Groves and the haunting Leper colony of Kalaupapa, where six residents still live in seclusion. Transportation is very limited so book well in advance or enjoy a booked tour.
These secluded paradises are even more expensive than the main islands, and accommodation options even more limited. Why not stay on Kauai or Maui and day-trip over instead? We have the perfect solutions.
Tags: Hawaii, lanai, Molokai, Niihau, daytrip, adventure, experiences, family vacation
Niihau pic – “PHOTO COURTESY OF THE AUCKLAND WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM.”