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Four Seasons Lanai introduces ‘astrotourism’ with new Lanai Observatory

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

Stargazers visiting the Four Seasons Resort on the Hawaiian island of Lanai can explore the skies through cultural and “astrotourism” experiences at the new Lanai Observatory.

Lanai Observatory
Photos courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Lanai

Due to low levels of atmospheric and light pollution, Lanai is an ideal location to observe the stars. The Four Seasons Resort Lanai’s Kilo Hōkū Experience at the Lanai Observatory – named for the Hawaiian words for “to observe” and “star” – is a new program from Love Lāna’i where cultural advisors share ʻike kūpuna (ancestral knowledge) about the celestial sphere and guide guests on a tour of the night sky.

Love Lāna’i Cultural Practitioner ʻĀnela Evans used primary ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) resources, including newspapers and scholarly writings from the 1800s to research star stories shared within the Hawaiian culture that are incorporated into the experience.

It’s also believed that voyages between Hawaii and the South Pacific occurred as early as 400 A.D. and Wayfinders – a term familiar to Disney fans, thanks to “Moana” – used their knowledge of ka lani paʻa (the celestial sphere) to navigate voyaging canoes thousands of miles through the open ocean. Because of this tradition, the Kilo Hōkū Experience begins by explaining the ways indigenous Hawaiians and people of the Pacific used celestial bodies to read the night sky and guide them on the sea.

Following the wayfinding presentation, guests are guided through a viewing experience using 1-meter observatory-class telescope housed in a two-story 25-foot domed structure, allowing them to see planets, star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, and the moon.

Lanai Observatory - Telescope

“Our Love Lāna’i team dedicated many hours of learning not only about the operations of the telescope and the skies but […] about the history of ancient wayfinding as well as methods of traditional, non-instrument navigation that Native Hawaiians and people of the Pacific utilize today in attempts to retrace the voyages of our past so we can reclaim ancestral knowledge,” said Four Seasons Resorts Lāna’i General Manager Alastair McAlpine. “We look forward to sharing this unique experience to explore the stars but also discover another aspect of Hawaiian culture.”

Hawaiian Star Names:

  • Hōkū – Star 
  • A’ā – Sirius 
  • Hānaiakamalama – Southern Cross 
  • Hōkūpa’a – Polaris 
  • ‘Iwakeli’I – Cassiopeia 
  • Kaheiheionākeiki – Orion 
  • Kauluakoko – Betelgeuse 
  • Makali’I – Pleiades 
  • Nāhiku – Big Dipper 
  • Nākao – Orion’s belt and sword

Rates for the one-hour Kilo Hōkū Experience are $35 for adults and $17.50 for children ages four-12 (must be accompanied by an adult). Timing will change throughout the year due to the sunset and visibility of the natural rotation of the sky. Click here for the schedule.

Click here for information about other Hawaiian cultural activities at Four Seasons Resort Lanai.


"It's Called Wayfinding" Clip - Disney's Moana
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