Bruce is not a mechanic.

He is, in point of fact, a tour guide, hunter, fisherman, father, and long-time resident of Lana’i. But he is definitely not a mechanic, which will be an important fact to keep in mind.

Bruce picked us up at Manelele Harbor, the one and only place on the island that is safe for boats to dock (the rest of the island is lined with cliffs and dangerous reefs). We had signed up for the half-day 4×4 Trekker Tour, and Bruce was the guy driving the 4×4 so that we could navigate the rough dirt roads in relative safety. If you want to drive around in your own Jeep rental for the day, there is that option, too, but we figured it would be easier and safer to have someone show us around who knew something about the island.

Often in the past, when I have expressed some interest in visiting Lana’i, people will say, “There’s not much there.” I suppose that’s true, although having someone who lives and loves the island show me around certainly makes a huge difference in the way I view places.
One of the reasons there’s not much to see on Lana’i is that the island’s resources have been depleted over the centuries through various wars, ranchers, and farms. There have been (and continue to be) certain reforestation plans to replenish the water table, but much of the island is basically a desert.

We got to see the Garden of the Gods, the remains of the famous pineapple fields, a haunted ironwood forest, and some spectacular views. However, on our way to Shipwreck Beach, our vehicle broke down (no, the irony is not lost on me), and we had to cut our tour short.

Remember, Bruce is not a mechanic.

When we started hearing a weird scraping sound as he got into a lower gear on the sandy road, there was no way he was going to fix it. Thank goodness we were in a tiny little pocket of the island with cell service (probably from a cell tower on Maui).

We had 20 minutes to kill while waiting for the rescue vehicle, and luckily, we were in a lovely little cove with a gorgeous view of both Maui and Moloka’i.
There were even turtles grazing in the shallows (“They must not have seen you, Turtlebane,” the husband quipped).
Our rescue vehicle dropped us off in the middle of town (Lana’i City is the only town on Lana’i, because the multi-million-dollar homes on the south side of the island are more a part of the Four Seasons complex, which is owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. He owns 98% of the island). The population of the island is a little over 3,100, and according to Bruce, the unemployment rate is 0%.

Apparently the crime rate is also 0%. This is the old police station and jail. The new police station is right around the corner, and not much bigger.

Because our tour got cut short, the owner of the tour company promised us a free taxi ride back to the harbor. Our taxi driver was a talkative guy named Isaac, who told us all about the termite infestations in most of the houses, and stopped at his own house to loan one of his passengers some snorkel gear for the day.

He also talked about how it was good that we were getting on the 4:30 ferry, since there were many days that the wind and weather would actually prevent the 6:00 ferry from leaving the harbor, and in that case, we would have to stay on the island overnight. He did offer his sofa/futon, which, he admitted, is pretty old and janky, or he also had a hammock. The only other place to stay on the island is the Four Seasons, and the lowest rate for a room there is $1,200/night. He joked that he would be happy to let anyone sleep in his hammock for the bargain price of $400.

One of the other taxi passengers who had rented a Jeep for the day piped up and said that the Jeep rental company had told them the same thing about the possibility of the later ferry rides being canceled; the rental company’s solution was to allow their renters to sleep in their Jeep.

The 4:30 ferry was a bit late, but we made it on board. The journey back to Maui was pretty bumpy, but we survived. Thank goodness we didn’t have to sleep in Isaac’s hammock.


They call him…Bruce
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