Another Island Being Sold

My post about Johnston Island, a former military base 600 mile SW of Hawaii, has proven popular with veterans and former workers there. I mentioned the island because it the closest non-Hawaiian island to Hawaii, and also because it was seemingly for sale at the time.

Today comes the rare news that one of the actual Hawaiian islands is being sold (articles in the Maui News and SF Chronicle). “The asking price is reportedly between $500 million and $600 million, the Maui News reported.” Lana’i is one of the 4 islands that make up Maui county, but it is 98% privately owned by Castle & Cook, one of the Big 5 companies in Hawaii that acquired the Dole Food Company that grew pineapples there.

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More recently, the pineapple plantation was shut down, and Castle & Cook developed two ultra-luxury resort and golf club there. Apparently they were losing money on the venture and looked to sell not just the resorts but the whole island. Technically, I could say the island was for sale, but it doesn’t seem like there was a public offer, more like they negociated privately to find a buyer. Everyone is worried about what the new owner will do to monetize the property, because if they don’t have an idea to make money, then residents will be out of work and move away.

I think the other 2% of the island is owned by the state, probably for roads, docks, and parks and other infrastructure. That would mean that everyone who lives there pays rent to (and gets utilities from) the landowner. Even though the island is mostly private, it is open to the public. There is a daily ferry from Lahaina, and then you can rent cars on Lana’i to get around to the few beaches and one town. I’ve never been there, but I heard there is a beach campground not far from the dock, so I thought it would be neat to camp there a few nights sometime.

The one story I remember about Lana’i is that because of it’s private status, Bill Gates chose it for his wedding. It was one time they did actually close public access, to keep away the media and curious on-lookers. However, some photographer managed to reach the 2% that is owned by others, yet he was still asked to leave by security guards. That seems like an abuse of someone’s rights, but I’m not sure what the outcome was.

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