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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Doing Lanai’s Dole Stroll

The Dole Stroll is one my favorite activities on Lanai. It’s an ideal way to spend the day learning about the island’s history and culture, doing some shopping, and sampling nearly a dozen restaurants. And the best part? It’s all local. There are no chain stores or restaurants, nothing mass produced – except awesomeness – and it’s all about showcasing the best of the island. Here’s how to do it…

A Lanai City map for the Dole Stroll

A Lanai City map for the Dole Stroll

Start at the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center at the top side of the park off Lanai Avenue. It’s right next door to the Hotel Lanai. The center is a great place to start a vacation to the island – well, maybe after a day unwinding at the beach or pool – in order to get a good understanding of, well, the culture and heritage of Lanai. Take your time wandering the rooms, but be sure to ask the knowledgeable staff questions as there certainly is a lot here to digest.

The Lanai Culture and Heritage Center

The Lanai Culture and Heritage Center

Speaking of digesting, isn’t it almost time to eat? No Dole Stroll should happen on an empty stomach. Good thing there are plenty of restaurants to sample all around Dole Park! My favorite was Café 565. So head to the left side of the park when walking out of the cultural center, passing by the Bank of Hawaii, Richard’s Market, and Dis ‘n’ Dat.

With a fully belly, walk back to the Dis ‘n’ Dat shop. This is the place for some great souvenir shopping. All of the handmade wares are done locally with a lot of care. And the staff is friendly and happy to stop and talk story – as in chit chat – with visitors.

The Dis 'n' Dat Shop

The Dis ‘n’ Dat Shop

There are a lot of shops in this chunk now, so slow down and enjoy the day by wandering in and out of each of them in turn. By the time each is visited, it’s time for lunch! Some folks recommended the Lanai Ohana Poke Market, my choice – Pele’s Garden. The deli / bistro seemed like a perfect fit for a lunchtime snack. And a snack it should only be, since there are several other great restaurants on the other side of the park.

Pele's Garden

Pele’s Garden

Finished eating? Good. Continue across the park, passing the Historic Lanai Jail, the courthouse, two churches, the Lanai gym, senior center, and the community college on the way to the Lanai Art Center. Slow down, walk through the gallery, and checkout all of the fantastic locally made art, some of it even by children! (And wonderfully so, I might add.)

Continue on along the park, and duck into both The Local Gentry and Island Treasures for some more great local shopping – something which cannot be done enough on Lanai. I did all I could on my Lanai Visitor Bureau trip, loading up on almost too many things to fit it all in my suitcase. But that’s half the fun, strolling and picking up locally made knickknacks and goodies as you go. By this time, though, it’s got to be time again to eat. Good thing the Blue Ginger Café is next door!

The Blue Ginger

The Blue Ginger

The hot topic of conversation during my stay on the island wasn’t about Larry Ellison buying the bulk of the island or the proposed construction of a new hotel. Everyone wanted to debate about whose bread was better – the Blue Ginger’s or that from the Kaunakakai Bakery over on Molokai. The general consensus was that Molokai’s bread was better, since they only rarely got it on Lanai. It wasn’t necessarily better they’d say, though, just more of a treat.

Lunch at the Blue Ginger

Lunch at the Blue Ginger

Having had the Kaunakakai bread, I had to try the Blue Ginger’s to do my own comparison. And while the Blue Ginger bread was good – the sandwich buns, breakfast rolls, and sliced bread – I prefer the Kaunakakai bread. Why? Simply because size matters; the loaf, which was stuffed with my choice of ingredients, was the size of my head, taking three days to eat. This isn’t to discount the Blue Ginger’s bread, though, since it was one of two restaurants along the park I ate at multiple times during my stay – the other being Café 565. The food was good there, too, and the staff quick and friendly.

Cafe 565

Cafe 565

Unlike the other restaurants along Dole Park, the Blue Ginger doesn’t have a good patio for dining. So, assuming the weather is nice, take any meal to go and eat under the giant pine trees in the park. It’s a fantastic place to dine. And with bellies good and full, it’s an even better place to lounge, read, and nap while, if any are along, letting the kids run free and play.

Keep on the Dole Stroll by heading up to Mike Carroll’s Gallery. Years ago Mike and his wife sold everything they owned, quit their day jobs, and chased their art passion on Lanai. They loved it so much, Mike told me, they wanted to stay for a few years and see how it worked out. Thanks to the great pieces Mike creates, it’s worked out pretty well, and they haven’t looked back. (Note: Much of Mike’s work is on display elsewhere on the island, like in the Lanai City Grille inside the Hotel Lanai, and can be purchased on site to commemorate a special moment.)

Lounging under the pines in Dole Park

Lounging under the pines in Dole Park

Ready to kick back and be entertained? Then before calling the Dole Stroll quits, check out a show at the Lanai Playhouse. Be sure to check with concierge at your hotel to see what is playing, as schedules for movies and theater vary. And sadly, because I didn’t even think about it when planning my stay, I missed out on what I heard is a special opportunity.

Once done at the playhouse, the Dole Stroll has come to an end. So head back to the hotel, maybe stopping at Richard’s Market back across the park – I did to pick up some local macadamia nut snacks – and call it a day. As enjoyable as the time was spent, it’ll surely be time to kick back, put the feet up, and relax with a drink and a nice meal at any one of Lanai’s three resorts.

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3 Comments on “Doing Lanai’s Dole Stroll”

  1. agnesstramp May 17, 2013 at 1:00 am #

    You walked that far burning some calories and then you ended up having a huge burger with fries? My style!!! 🙂

  2. David September 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Thanks for the city map Jason! Lanai is one of the best place still left on this earth


  1. Tasting the Best Food on Lanai | Jason's Travels - September 4, 2013

    […] Lanai can boast some of the best food I’ve enjoyed on any of the Hawaiian Islands. From the hotels – most especially the hotels – to the other island restaurants, the dining options are insanely tasty. It didn’t matter if I was ordering a fine dining kind of meal or a simple burger, everything was excellently prepared. For our tour, let’s start with the great options I tasted while doing the Dole Stroll. […]

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