Have You Met Bruce?

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Lanai, Hawaii

If you come to Lānaʹi, a small island off Maui, the first thing you need to do is see Bruce from Rabaca’s Guided SUV Tours otherwise you will just see Lānaʹi as an amazing beach destination.

It is so much more than that.

Valley of the Gods

On a three hour tour Bruce explains the history, geography and Hawaiian mythology of the island. I usually hate historical tours but this one is so engaging.

He has no issue explaining the politics behind the island or Hawaii and it turns out this island is struggling with similar windmill issues as Moloka’i.

Bruce grew up in Waikiki when it was still the Kingdom of Hawaii, he saw the island change and grow so he moved to Maui. After a business trip to Lānaʹi he found something that reminded him of Waikiki of his youth.

He moved here so his four year old son could experience the Hawaii he knew as a child.

Lanai Hawaii

As a tour guide he makes far less than he did managing restaurants in Maui but he sees his life as far richer.

In between learning that the tribe from Moloka’i once massacred the island and set it on fire we chat about people’s backyard gardens.

There are so many fascinating things that make Lānaʹi so much more than just a great beach:

Lanai

Like the rest of Hawaii missionaries settled on the land and turned it into a ranching area, unfortunately they mismanaged the land and did not realize clearing the land meant destroying the eco system, creating a desert.

In the 1920s a Kiwi botanist came to try to help reforest the area, they started with non-native trees which would grow faster. which is why the island looks like Vermont with all the pines.

But slowly they are introducing native plants, which take longer but will change the landscape to what it was before the Moloka’i tribe burned it and the missionaries ravaged it.

lanai

The landscape is incredible and so diverse. There are hundreds of sheep, so many quail and twice as many deer as people.

While there is a traditional hunting season requiring a permit you can hunt with bow and arrow 365 all year long, people like the challenge and actually do it.

While there are only 3000 people, there are 19 churches.

I could go on and on and on.

I’m really looking forward to some beach and pool time but I cannot imagine anyone coming to Lana’i without meeting him.

True you can rent a car for $160/day but you don’t get Bruce and his Lanai tour. The problem is now I realize three days here is far too short.

I guess I’ll need to come back.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Lānaʹi Visitors Bureau, they did not request that I write a favourable review or eat a bag of Bruce’s delicious venison jerky.

Join the Conversation

  1. Sounds like he was really able to add a lot to your experience on the island. Those are the best guides – not just the ones that give you the facts you could have read in a text book, but the ones who engage you, make you think, etc.

  2. Kieu ~ GQ trippin says:

    mMm venison jerky!

  3. Chrystal McKay says:

    Bruce seems like a nice man. Now – why did the Moloka’i tribe burn the island? What was their beef with Lana’i? And does the apostrophe ‘i at the end of each word mean “Island” in English?

  4. The history of this place is really interesting, especially about the non-native plants. I usually get bored with history too, but I would have loved this tour.

  5. Cole @ Four Jandals says:

    We love personal tour guides (if we can afford them) because they do add so much insight into the places we travel.

  6. Laurence says:

    I love jerky! Always sad to see a place that has been destroyed by our inability to see beyond the ends of our own wallets / belief systems. Sounds like it’s well on the road to recovery though 😀

  7. An interesting read, I felt like I was on tour with you! I never went to Lanai when we were in Hawaii,but feel like I have through your posts. Of course, now I have to go back and see and experience it for myself!

  8. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    What an interesting (and sad) history. It is great that you are getting to learn so much about the islands.

    By the way, my brain stopped working properly and interpreted SUV as ATV/ Quad, and I could not imagine you driving one.

  9. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    It’s good they are bringing back the native plants. I would be surprised to see something that looks like Vermont in Hawaii.

  10. $160/day to rent a car? That’s steep. Sounds like hiring Bruce greatly enriched your stay there!

  11. Love the cove shot- the lighting is beautiful!

  12. So many fascinating tidbits and stories, Ayngelina. I knew nothing at all about this island until today. 🙂

  13. Beautiful. I hope that I have the chance to get to the islands at some point. The landscapes look incredible…

  14. lara dunston says:

    There is definitely a place for tours. I was never a big fan of them when I was younger, but in recent years I’ve really grown to appreciate a great guide and what a well thought-out tour can add to the travel experience. Sounds like this was one of those tours.

    1. I don’t consider a guide the same as a tour. A guide usually has intimate knowledge of a place, where a tour (in my opinion) has little to none…on a tour you only see what they want to show you, and basically you are stuck with that. With a guide you can (at the very least) ask them to go somewhere they may not normally show.

  15. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – You always meet the most interesting people who then tell you the most incredible stories. I need to travel with you one day, girl!

  16. Camels & Chocolate says:

    I always go back and forth with which is the prettiest of the Hawaiian isles–today, it’s Lanai. Though there’s not an ugly spot in Hawaii in my opinion!

  17. Fascinating. You’re really getting the “off the beaten path” and through the locals eyes perspective traveling in Hawaii. So awesome.

    I’ve never really felt connected to Maui or Oahu when I visited but I think if I traveled how you are on the islands, it all may be different!

    Loving all the perspective and info!

  18. looks fascinating – I love historical tours, but don’t tell my mother who is an historian. I enjoyed learning about Bruce too.

  19. Christina says:

    Bruce sounds like the perfect tour guide – he knows the islands in a way that only people who grew up there can. I can totally see that a few days may not be enough, given all that history and landscape to explore!

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  21. love the review, also read another one just as good, but neither of you said the cost. Posting there price paid would help others decide I think, although prices do change.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Scott that’s a really good point. I’m actually in the process of creating accompanying PDFs guides that will include all of the costs and planning details and while prices could change they will definitely give people an idea.

      1. I was quoted $75 per person when I called today, and in my book that is a deal!

  22. Have booked this for a week from Wednesday!

  23. We had Bruce for a 1/2 day tour and he was fantastic! Knowledgeable of the local lore, he was able to talk story about local kine history and politics too. The best part was his intamate knowlege of the roads and trails. If we had rented and attempted to drive to the Garden of the Gods ourselves, we would have been met with two huge mud ponds that were inpassable. (Just the day before Bruce mentioned having to asssist some poor travellers trapped there). But Bruce saved the day, taking alternate routes that ensured our vacation day trip proceeded without a hitch. Be sure to ask for Bruce if you decide to splurge for the guided tour… You’ll be glad you did!

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