LānaiThe Private Isle


The Private Isle

Overview of Lāna‘i

Land Area: 140.5 square miles (363.9 sq. km).

Size Comparison: 6th largest Hawaiian Island; smallest inhabited island.

Island Emblem: Kauna‘oa—Native Dodder (Cuscuta sandwichiana).

Highest Elevation: 3,370 feet (1,027 m), at the summit of Lāna‘ihale.

Official Nickname: The Private Isle.

Also called: The Pineapple Island, The Secluded Island.

[Illustration: Map—Lāna‘i]

Lāna‘i is about 17½ miles (28 km) long by 13 miles (21 km) wide. The island of Lāna‘i is somewhat teardrop-shaped, with about 47 miles (76 km) of coastline. Lāna‘i is about 9 miles (14.5 km) west of Maui (across the ‘Au‘au Channel), and 9 miles (14.5 km) south of Moloka‘i.

Lāna‘i’s Pālāwai Basin is the alluvium-filled crater of the single volcano that formed the island. The volcano last erupted about 1.3 million years ago. The Pālāwai Basin is now a fertile area, and many pineapples have been grown there.

There are not many paved roads on Lāna‘i, and much of the island is accessible only by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. On a clear day atop Lāna‘ihale (“House [of] Lāna‘i”[i]) the highest point on Lāna‘i, one may see five of the Hawaiian Islands. The 3,370-foot (1,027-m) summit of Lāna‘ihale is about 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Lāna‘i City and may be reached with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle if the roads are not washed out by rains.

The peak of Lāna‘ihale is the highest point of the ridge that runs from southeast to northwest across the island. This ridge is a significant geographical feature affecting Lāna‘i’s climate, which is relatively dry because the northeast tradewinds are blocked by the West Maui Mountains.

An ancient proverb states, “Niniu Moloka‘i, poahi Lāna‘i,” (“Moloka‘i revolves, Lāna‘i sways”), said to describe “...the revolving of the hips and the swaying movements in hula.”[ii]

[i] Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[ii] p. 252, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2315.