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.
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.
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:
Like the rest of Hawaii missionaries settled on the land and turned it into a ranching area, unfortunately they mismanged 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.
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.