Lānaʻi is Hawaii’s sixth largest island and the smallest publicly accessible – and inhabited – island in the chain. With a population of 3,367, the island has an interesting history.
The first inhabitants of the island arrived as late as the 15th century, likely from nearby Maui and Molokaʻi. Sugar growing came over from China in 1802, a group of Mormons were granted a lease to the land in 1854 and by 1921, under the ownership of Charles Gay, some of the island became a pineapple farm.
In 1922, James Dole of Hawaiian Pineapple Company (later Dole Food Company) bought the island and developed a large portion of it into the world’s largest pineapple plantation. So big, in fact, Lānaʻi used to be referred to as Pineapple Island. Since 2012, 98% of the island is owned by the billionaire Larry Ellison, who purchased it for $300 million.
While pineapples haven’t been produced on the island since 1992, tours are available on the island, which itself houses some VIP-style resorts managed by Four Seasons Hotels. Lanai is also home to three golf courses, including the 9-hole Cavendish Golf Course, which is free to play (one of only a few such places in the United States).
Get to the island via a boat of some kind to really discover the natural beauty of this part of the Hawaiian islands.