The island of Lana'i is one of the last places in Hawaii where you can still have a beach to yourself.
In fact, on the northern and eastern coastlines, you have a better chance of finding deer tracks in the sand than a trace of human footprints.
The same can't be said for Hulopo'e Bay, where the presence of a luxury hotel and a popular beach park creates a coastal atmosphere which is never really empty. What few travelers realize, however, is there is a second beach just a short walk away which is refreshingly free of visitors.
Known locally as "Shark's Bay", the cove is accessed from the south end of Hulopo'e via a dusty, meandering trail.
Though the beach itself appears inaccessible, there is a certain spot where you can clamber down the rocks and reach the shoreline below. Once on the sand, a lone sea cave provides a private shelter where monk seals and nudists are the only creatures you could possibly consider a neighbor.
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The Legend of "Sweetheart Rock"
The offshore sea stack of Pu'u Pehe--also known as "Sweetheart Rock"--is one of Lanai's most iconic sights.
According to legend, a young prince by the name of Makakehau fell deeply in love with a princess named Pehe. Since Makakehau was jealous of what others might think of Pehe's beauty, the two lived in a remote sea cave along the southwestern coastline of Lana'i.
One day, however, while Makakehau was in the uplands gathering water, large surf swept into the sea cave from which Pehe couldn't escape. Noticing the surf was rising along the shoreline, Makakehau abandoned his task and rushed to check on his bride. Unfortunately, however, he arrived too late, and Pehe had lost her battle with the sea.
A traditional burial was arranged in the sand dunes surrounding Manele Bay, though Makakehau pleaded to be able to spend one more night with his love. The next morning, however, instead of going to the sand dunes, Makakehau scaled Pu'u Pehe and created a private grave. He then performed a ceremony of his own, and upon completion of the heart-wrenching moment, he cast himself off the top of the rock and gave his own life to the sea.
Today, visitors can hike to a coastal vantage point for a glimpse of what appears to be Pehe's grave. Though scholars have classified it as an ancient Hawaiian heiau (temple), the legend oft he lovers continues to this day.