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Visit Lanai to see the spectacular Garden of the Gods

If you're planning on taking a day trip to any other Hawaii island from your Honolulu resort, make sure it's Lanai. In the northwestern portion of the island lies a magical place straight from a science fiction movie, a unique and surreal landscape that is unlike anything else in the state. To the locals it is known as Keahiakawelo, or 'the fire of Kawelo', though to the rest of us it is the unmissable Garden of the Gods.

What is the Garden of the Gods?

Twenty or so minutes from Lanai City is a dirt trail that leads you high into the mountains to visit this spiritual place. Basking in brilliant oranges and reds lies a field of strange and unnatural boulders, rock sculptures and other unusual features that make up Keahiakawelo.

Once upon a time, you see, it is said that two kahuna (priests) - one from Lanai and one from Molokai - were challenged to keep a fire burning for as long as they could, and whoever won would be rewarded with prosperity and good fortune. The Lanai priest, Kawelo, managed to keep his fire burning by using up all of the vegetation in the area and the result is what we see today.

What to see and when

These days the region is a barren, rocky wasteland of strange, hypnotic beauty. The best time to visit is at either sunrise or sunset. As the sun floats past the horizon, its brilliant colours illuminate the oranges of the rock, as well as cast spectacular shadows behind the taller structures. You should also consider visiting on as clear a day as possible, considering you can often see the islands of Molokai and Oahu from this raised vantage point - perfect for the family photos.