Rows of pineapple plants greet you as you walk to the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center. I can’t think of a more appropriate greeting considering that Lanai was once the home to the largest pineapple plantation in the world.
With pineapple also being the symbol of hospitality, those rows of pineapples became even more meaningful as we were very warmly welcomed to the center and to the island of Lanai.
The Lanai Culture & Heritage Center’s mission is “to inspire people to be informed, thoughtful and active stewards of Lanai’s heritage by preserving, interpreting and celebrating its natural history, Hawaiian traditions, diverse heritage and cultures, and ranching and plantation era histories.” From my observation, the mission is accomplished! I felt that my visit here, provided an instant connection to the Lanai.
I highly recommend that you make plans to visit the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center when you come to Lanai. In fact, I think you should arrange to go to the center very early on during your Lanai vacation as it’s a great place to learn about the island’s cultural diversity, history and attractions. Knowing the history and lure behind the scenic points you’ll see will enrich your visit to Lanai. You might also find that visiting the center will help you focus your exploration time on the island.
Though small in size, this museum uses every inch wisely, both inside and out. Inside, you’ll find displays of Lanai’s history from early Hawaiian settlements up until the end of the pineapple plantation era. I found myself drawn to the displays and memorabilia from the peak of the pineapple plantation days. I would have love to have seen Lanai back in the pineapple hay days. Seeing the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center provided that glimpse back in time.
On the exterior of this center, you’ll find a garden filled with plants that were either native to the island or has a significant history to Lanai. We saw taro, bananas, papaya, and eggplant. While we were there we got to see a hibiscus that is only found on the island of Lanai. This hibiscus was in bloom, displaying its most unique feature of hidden petals.
If you should find that you drop by the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center after hours, you’ll still have an opportunity to learn about Lanai as you will find displays in the windows of some of the top questions visitors often ask. You’ll be able to learn about humpback whales, plantation life, the water system, and Shipwreck Beach – all from the exterior window displays.
We met husband and wife team Kepa and Onaona Maly who direct the culture and heritage center. Most likely when you visit, you’ll have an opportunity to meet them, too. They’re extremely passionate about Lanai and are most gracious and happy to answer any question you have about the island.
What to know when you go:
– Lanai Culture & Heritage Center is located in Lanai City on Lanai Avenue. It’s at the northeastern end of Dole Park and “next door” to Hotel Lanai. If you are taking the shuttle, tell the shuttle driver that you want to go to the culture and heritage center (aka “the museum”) and the driver will know where to drop you off.
– Hours are Monday – Friday from 8:30am to 3:30pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.
– They have an excellent website: www.LanaiCHC.org
– Admission is free. Donations are accepted.
– Take a short (2 minute) video tour of Lanai Culture & Heritage Center. (Email subscribers: please click this link to find the video at the end of this post.)