GETTING INTO NATURE ON THE LANAI POLARIS OFF-ROAD TOUR

Our local guide pulled the Polaris UTV (Ultimate Terrain Vehicle) off the rugged trail and under the shade of a palm-like Pandanus tree. We had stopped near Pu'u Ali'i, meaning hill of chiefs in Hawaiian, to learn more about where water used to flow on Lanai. Here we heard how non-native plants and animals transformed part of the island. As I watched my son study the dry creek bed, I noticed a sweet scent in the air. Curious, I asked our guide about it. "It's nature,” he chuckled, kicking up a rust-colored cloud as the Polaris off-road vehicle shot forward.We were about half-way through a two-hour Lanai Polaris off-road tour. With a top speed of 70 miles/hour and a guide intent on showing off his island home, we were covering a lot of ground.Although we have been traveling to the island for over a decade, this was our first time venturing beyond the luxury confines of the Four Seasons Resort, nearby Hulopo'e Bay, and traffic-lightless Lanai City. With only 30 miles of paved roads on the 90,000-acre Hawaiian Island, the Polaris off-road experience is an excellent way to get into nature and learn about Lanai's unique culture and history.Our Lanai Polaris off-road tour focused on the Palawai Basin – the ancient caldera of the volcano that formed the island. Here we drove through mature forests and along exposed ridgelines, learning about native and introduced species. We stopped to look at Lanai’s historic sites including petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings). At various points, we parked in elevated clearings for expansive views across the Pacific Ocean to neighboring islands.The Lanai Polaris off-road adventure concluded with a top-speed, white-knuckle sprint along a tree-lined straightaway. It was full-on nature – wind in the hair, dust on the face, and grins that lasted well past happy hour!