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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.

Exploring Lanai’s Kanepu’u Preserve

Lanai Hawaii Garden of the Gods Molokai View

A view of Molokai from Lanai’s Garden of the Gods

A lot of tourists head to the Kanepu’u Preserve to see Lanai’s Garden of the Gods. The views are stunning. Molokai and Maui are visible across the channel. Whales can also be spotted during the winter season.  Without a doubt the garden is a great place. But it’s not the only place to see in the preserve.

Driving into Lanai's Kanepu'u Preserve

Driving into Lanai’s Kanepu’u Preserve

The Kanepu’u Preserve covers 590 acres on the northwest side of the Lanai. It is home to 48 native species of plants. Unfortunately a lot of invasive species also infest the land. Enter Bob Hera, the preserve’s manager. He’s been working hard for years – largely with a chainsaw – to remove what doesn’t belong and restore the area to its original beauty.

Bob has a small fenced in enclosure, known as an iki, where he removes the invasive species. I was fortunate enough to have Bob show me around the area on my Visit Lanai trip and tell me about his work. We talked story for a couple of hours, as we drove and hiked through the area. And in listening to Bob talk about the preserve, calling it his work doesn’t quite cover it – it’s his passion.

Bob Hera cleaning up in the preserve

Bob Hera cleaning up in the preserve

Student volunteers help Bob remove the invasive plants, so he’s not alone; a lot of people have pride in the preserve and the island of Lanai, and it shows. But Bob is out there regularly, if not daily, to maintain and continue cleaning up the iki.

Why an iki? Why fence in an area? It’s not exactly going to keep invasive plants out, right? Right. Seeds can be blown right on through the fencing or carried in by birds. The fence is set up to keep out the local deer and sheep population, which are also invasive. They both can eat a lot of the native plants, so Bob built and maintains the fence in order to keep them out.

Driving through the Kanepu'u Preserve

Driving through the Kanepu’u Preserve

The hiking trails Bob cut through the iki aren’t difficult to walk. He’s made it that way on purpose, continuing to create more, so the area can be enjoyed by everyone. He’s also busy posting information signs, so visitors can learn more about the native plants and the preserve.

Hiking through the Kanepu'u Preserve

Hiking through the Kanepu’u Preserve

While Bob’s devotion seems limitless, he still needs help. In lieu of volunteers who know the area and can help remove invasive species, money is needed for equipment and supplies. If you can help, if you want to visit, or if you just want to know more, here’s how to contact Bob Hera:


PO Box 630339

Lanai City, Hawaii 96763

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2 Comments on “Exploring Lanai’s Kanepu’u Preserve”

  1. Randy Kalp August 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Love guys like Bob who are fighting the good fight against invasive species on the islands. Sounds like you had a great time in the Kanepu’u Preserve. Definitely would love to check out it sometime.

    • Jason's Travels August 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      Bob was great, quite the character. And the preserve is amazing. I wish I had more time to see it, because there’s just so much out there in all of those acres. Heck, there’s a lot there in his little iki. I highly recommend a visit to it and the whole island.

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