Monday, March 2nd… Today is the day I am checking off a bucket list item. I have been dreaming of this for years, ever since I heard about the Lanai Cat Sanctuary and started following them on Facebook.
Woke up very early, partly from excitement and partly from still not adjusting to local time. We grabbed some coffee and bagels from the cafe at the lobby for breakfast, and joined our fellow early risers around the lobby area. Me… an early riser! Who would have thought that term would ever be uttered about me… the person who can never get going until very late morning!
Our flight to Lanai was at 11am. We weren’t sure what the traffic was going to be like from the North Shore and I was definitely not going to miss that flight, so we headed off to the airport quite early. We swung by L&L Hawaiian BBQ at the Airport Trade Center to grab some Uber Factory uber tarts as a treat for the staff at the sanctuary. Why should treats be limited to the cats? 😉
Check-in at Hawaiian Airlines for inter-island flights was a breeze. The few shops in this terminal were closed, so I had to be contented with just hanging around the gate area waiting for time to pass. Ten o’clock came and still no plane at the gate. Boarding was supposed to be at 10:30ish. Ok, not time to worry yet. Soon it was 10:30 and still no plane at the gate. We start wondering if we are in the wrong gate, but the board and the screens still show that gate to be the one for our flight to Lanai.
10:40 rolls around and still no plane. I’m starting to get nervous. We have a very tight schedule for this day trip, really just a few hours to spend there. By now the screens are saying our flight is “Boarding” at the gate we were at. Is this an invisible plane? Did we forget to pick up some magic glasses during check-in that would make the plane visible? Hmmm… Finally an announcement from the agent at the next gate that the flight to Lanai is now at that gate and boarding. Whew!
The flight to Lanai was quick. Just enough time to get served a cup of POG (passion orange guava) juice cup. So cute. I feel like I’m in kindergarten drinking from the small, plastic juice cup.
The Lanai airport is small and has that sleepy island feel that we love during our usual travels in the Caribbean islands.
We quickly exit the airport and find our car rental waiting for us in the parking lot. We had gone back and forth on whether to rent a car, or just arrange for a taxi pickup/drop off, since our time on the island was so short. Car rental is expensive in Lanai, but in the end, we wanted the convenience of controlling our time and not having to wait for someone else to pick us up. We had a great car rental experience with 808 Day Trip. Everything was pre-arranged via email and text. So glad we went this route.
From the airport, we head into town, planning to grab a quick bite and satisfy my shopping fix. We somehow blinked and missed the street to turn to and ended up in the residential areas. Who the heck gets lost in town in Lanai?! Geez…
Our first planned stop was at Mike Carroll Gallery where I wanted to get my shopping fix for some local artwork.
The artist, Mike, was there and took the time to show us around the shop and chat with us. Wow. Amazing artwork, by Mike as well as other local artists. We select a few prints and some items for us, and as gifts to friends back home. This is my kind of shopping. [Side note: You can shop this gallery online and they will ship to the mainland. They are wonderful to work with. We had regretted not purchasing the koa wood frames to go along with a couple of the prints that we purchased while we were there. I contacted Mike via email and they were able to send us the frames via Fedex and they arrived in perfect condition, glass and all.]
Next stop, grab a bite to eat. We crossed the street to check out Richard’s Market.
What a nice, cute store. We comment that this is like the Whole Foods of the island, on a much smaller scale. I spot the poke offerings at the deli and we get a pound of ahi poke for a quick eat.
We sit on a bench outside the store and enjoy the yummy poke while admiring the park across the street. Lanai has pine trees next to palm trees. Pretty neat! Aaaah… the simplicity of life. Sitting outdoors, enjoying something tasty, watching the everyday goings on in town. 🤗
With our bellies full and time ticking, we zip on over to the sanctuary. I am beyond excited.
We arrived and were given a brief overview of the sanctuary and its mission. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really listening as I already knew this and was eager to get in and love on the kitties. They give visitors a bag of treats to hand out, but we had a whole tub! Actually tubs of treats. We took one of the tubs and left the others with the rest of the donations we brought. A gang has formed by the entrance door as they knew that visitors meant guaranteed treats.
The cats immediately surround us, all meowing a chorus of “Hurry up and hand those treats out lady!” Well, technically they were just meowwwwing, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they were saying.
The cats follow us as we move around the expansive place. It’s like we’re rock stars with our posse who follow our moves. They surround us when we sit. Perhaps it has to do with that tub of treats. Ha! I’m in cat heaven.
The Lanai Cat Sanctuary is a wonderful place to visit for any cat lover. At the time of our visit, they had something like 640+ cats. The setup is very nice with lots of areas for the cats to lounge in, and for the visitors to just sit and enjoy being surrounded by the lovable Lanai lions. The cats are well cared for and fortunate to have a home at the sanctuary. I walked away without feeling like I want to take all the cats home, which is usually how I feel when I see cats in shelters or adoption centers. Hats off to the organization, the staff, volunteers, and supporters that make this place so special.
I encourage anyone to support their work. Donations can be made online on their website. They are a 501c3 organization, so if your employer matches your donations like mine does, don’t forget to register to get that match. Win-win!
Cat lovers should put this on their list of places to visit in their lifetime. Make it happen. Life is too short to have regrets! ❤️
We spend a couple of hours at the sanctuary and soon it was time to go. We quickly zip to town to top up the gas in our rental, then head back to the airport to catch our flight back. We leave our car rental at the airport parking lot and text 808 Day Trip that we were done for the day. Easy peasy.
A quick flight back to Oahu, with another cup of POG to quench our thirst during the flight.
The Honolulu airport is busier at this hour. We exit the terminal and head to the parking garage. This does not look familiar as we walk the rows of cars in the garage. Hmmm… pretty sure we correctly noted the level and row where we parked the Jeep. We continue to walk around each row and do not see it, and the configuration does not look familiar. Errrmmm. This will be really embarrassing if we have to ask for help finding our car. We decide to backtrack after a while, going back into the terminal, and retracing our steps to where we entered that morning. Bingo! Now things look familiar and we find our Jeep exactly where we left it that morning. There is even a rainbow to greet us. All is good once again.
We swing by L&L at the airport trade center to grab another takeout plate of kalua pork and pork laulau combo, some saimin, and of course, more uber tarts. By now it is rush hour time on the freeways and there is no rushing going on. OMG the traffic! We live in the Washington DC area where traffic is horrid, and we used to live in the Los Angeles area, another hotbed of traffic mess, but Honolulu traffic is right up there.
It was a long day but well worth it. We loved the small town feel of Lanai. We loved the cat sanctuary. We talk of spending a few days there to explore the island. I’m pretty sure that will be on the itinerary on our next trip to Hawaii.
Bucket list checked! 🤙
Tonight’s dining delight…
Cats cats and more cats! 😻🐾