There was once was a time when the Palawai Basin teemed with acres of pineapple. In 1992, however, when the last commercial pineapple was plucked from the island of Lana’i, these dusty plains on the outskirts of Lana’i City reverted to an empty field. Well, almost. As it turns out, about a half mile from the highway in the Palawai hinterlands is a small hill which is covered in petroglyphs. Estimated to be at least 200 years old, these rock etchings make the island’s pineapple era look like a recent fad. While the Luahiwa petroglyphs are similar in appearance to those which are found elsewhere on the island, (such as those at Kaiolohia and Kaunolu), what makes the etchings at Luahiwa so special is not only their proximity to town, but the staggering number of individual drawings which number close to 1,000. Set only 10 minutes outside of Lana’i City, a zig-zagging series of former pineapple roads leads to the base of the conspicuous bluff. After ascending a small hill and bushwhacking through brush, the search for the carvings is like an archeological Easter egg hunt where an ancient drawing could appear at any moment. Despite the number of etchings, however, modern graffiti and recent alterations have marred many of the largest carvings. Nevertheless, those who scramble along the red dirt scree slope can still find carvings which have sat undisturbed since the days of the original Hawaiians.
Lana'i Rush Hour
If someone were to ship a Toyota Prius to the island of Lana’i, they could cover every mile of the island’s paved roads on a single gallon of gas. Twice. With only 30 miles of paved road (compared to 300 miles of unpaved roads), and 3,300 residents, traffic on Lana’i is rarely an issue. This is a look at the island’s main highway, which connects Lana’i City with Hulopo’e Bay and the ferry terminal to Maui. During times when the traffic is particularly low, it’s even possible (though not exactly legal), to skateboard down the center of the highway in the middle of broad daylight. For video of what exactly that looks like, check out the link below. In addition to the refreshing lack of traffic, the highway is flanked by Cook Island pines which have been planted as a means of capturing the cloud vapor. The moisture from the clouds is absorbed by the pine needles and subsequently finds its way into the island’s groundwater. Even to this day, it’s estimated that a healthy percentage of the island’s water is captured by the trees which line the highway and the hillside.
The Liberty Ship of Shipwreck Beach
Of all the sights along Lanai’s northeastern coast, none are more famous than the rusting Liberty ship which rises up from the shallow coral reef. Although it appears to be a legitimate shipwreck, this concrete ship was intentionally scuttled as an economical means of disposal. Just because the World War II relic was intentionally run aground, however, doesn’t mean that other vessels don’t lie on the ocean floor. Up the coast at Awalua, a smaller shipwreck sits stuck on the reef in waters which teem with turtles and sharks. At an undiscovered location, the American ship “London” sits in a watery-grave after running aground in 1826. What’s particularly enchanting about the “London” wreck is how it allegedly sank with with a cache of bullion which has purportedly yet to be found. When visiting Lana’i today, the area around “Shipwreck Beach” (traditionally known as Kaiolohia) is a popular spot for beachcombing, strolling on the sand, and hiking back to ancient petroglyphs which are tucked in a coastal valley. Photographing the ship, of course, is another popular pursuit, and if you’re lucky you’ll encounter a group of kitesurfers racing past the crumbling hull.