Travel Diary: Hawaii for the Holidays

Winter travel is my favorite kind. After the rush of the holidays, and the cold weather on the East coast, I’m ready to get on a plane and get tropical. This year, Lanai, in Hawaii, is my warm-weather destination and I can’t wait to take the whole family on what will definitely be a fantastic trip full of sun, sand, surf, and lots of great food. Known to the locals as Pineapple Island, Lanai is the sixth largest island  but the smallest inhabited island in the whole Hawaiian island chain—which makes it the perfect place to kick back and relax. Take a look at my picks for the perfect Lanai vacation.

Situated on the scenic southeastern coast overlooking Hulopoe Bay is the Lanai Four Seasons Resort. I love it because it is the ideal “home base” for enjoying this unspoiled paradise, and for day trips to explore the other islands, too. The resort has everything you’ll need: authentically Hawaiian-designed guest suites, lagoon-style pools for lazy afternoon lounging, the Hawanawana Spa for indulging in some R&R, stroll-worthy botanical gardens, and my favorite pastime: the Jack Nicklaus–signature Manele Golf Course. The resort is a 20-minute drive from Lanai City, a short ferry trip from Maui, or plane ride from Honolulu.

While the resort does offer an outpost of one of my favorite restaurants, Nobu Lanai, the Lanai City center is a great spot for exploring the local cuisine. Although the city is small, it has something for everyone’s taste. The family friendly Blue Ginger Café is a restaurant and bakery serving homemade dishes including breakfast burritos, Saimin (Hawaiian chicken-noodle soup), its famous Loco Moco double cheese burger, and freshly baked breads and pastries (just try to resist the blueberry turnovers). The offbeat, outdoor Café 565 is an ideal lunch spot with everything from pizza to burgers to blackened ahi fish tacos. If a picnic’s in your future, swing by Richard’s Market, an upscale grocery offering staples, snacks, liquor, and prepared foods.

In addition to the great activities available at the resort—including four-wheeling through Lanai’s ironwood forests and catamaran sailing—the family and I like to venture out on day trips to explore the other islands. We’ve recently gotten into surfing, and there’s nothing like hitting the waves on Oahu’s legendary North Shore. Arrange for lessons with Uncle Bryan’s Sunset Suratt Surf Academy or just go to watch the big wave riders who come from near and far to enjoy the legendary surf do their stuff. Head over to the Big Island for a helicopter tour over active volcanos like the ones on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa Mountains. For those who aren’t into riding waves or flying into live volcanoes, a guided hike through some of Oahu’s beautiful tropical rainforests—maybe ending in a waterfall swim—is not to be missed.

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