Lanai, located just 9 miles away from Maui, is one of Hawaii's smallest islands. But don't let Lanai's small size deter you from visiting. The small island of Lanai packs a big punch and is absolutely worth the visit.
The island of Lanai is composed of three regions: North, Central, and South Lanai. The island of Lanai is known for its ability to combine a rustic feel with resort-like amenities. No matter where you end up on the island, there will be some sort of adventure or serene experience for you to indulge in.
Lanai is a beautiful island, and many people choose to stay there for the entirety of their visit to Hawaii. However, if you are staying in Maui, Lanai is still really easy to visit. The small island is just a 45-minute ferry ride away, and it's 100% worth the wait.
— article continued below —
Must-See Lanai Sights and Attractions
Keahiakawelo is a picturesque rock garden located 45 minutes Northwest from Lanai City. You can arrive using a 4x4 vehicle, or for extra adventure, a mountain bike. Keahiakawelo, also known as 'The Fire of Kawelo,' is renowned for its lunar-like topography and mysterious cultural significance.
According to Hawaiian folklore, two Hawaiian priests from Lanai and Molokai competed on behalf of their home islands to keep a fire burning longer than the other. The winning priest would bring great abundance to their people. The priest of Lanai, Kawelo, used every piece of vegetation to keep his fire burning, resulting in the intriguing rocky and craggy landscape.
The beautiful rock spires and formations of Keahiakawelo make for an excellent adventure for those who want to get out of town and enjoy a piece of Lanai heritage. And it's even better at sunset!
Lanai Culture & Heritage Center
Sometimes when we travel, we become too engrossed in the resort and forget to tap into the local culture surrounding the resort. The Lanai Culture and Heritage Center is a community museum dedicated to informing and inspiring the people that visit the island of Lanai.
If you consider yourself a history buff or one who enjoys learning about different cultures, then the Lanai museum is a must-see. It offers a number of intriguing exhibits that teach about the history of the Lanai people and the island of Lanai itself.
Manele Golf Resort
If you are one to always travel with your golf clubs, Lanai will not disappoint. The island of Lanai is known for its great golf, boasting two courses to choose from, the Cavendish Public Golf Course and Manele Golf Resort.
The Manele Golf Resort is a world-renowned and award-winning signature golf course. The course is located atop sea cliffs surrounding Hulopoe Bay, providing a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
Besides the stunning views from practically every hole on the Manele golf course, you may even get the opportunity to spot whales during the winter months on the island.
Boating Around the Island of Lanai
If you love the ocean and the exhilaration of being on the open sea, then there are plenty of boating attractions for you and your family to enjoy. You can schedule a private boat charter to take you around the coastline of Lanai and look for spinner dolphins. We recommend scheduling your charter at sunset for an extra romantic occasion.
Whale watching is also very popular in Lanai. The ocean channels that run between Lanai, Maui, and Molokai are some of the best for whale watching. Every year, majestic humpback whales travel to the Hawaiian islands during the winter and spring and can be spotted from the coasts of Lanai.
The Hawanawana Spa
If your visit to Lanai is more focused on wellness and rejuvenation, then the Hawanawana Spa is a stop you need to make. Located at the Four Seasons Resort in Lanai City, this Spa offers a number of amenities that will enhance your stay in Lanai.
The Spa offers wellness experiences like yoga and guided meditation sessions. As well as classic relaxation spa services such as massages, nail services, facial treatments, and body treatments. And if you on Lanai with your significant other, The Hawanawana Spa is known for their intimate Couple's Suites.
Must See Lanai Beaches
Lanai boasts 18 miles of breathtaking coastline. Whether you are on the Northern or Southern shore, there will be a beautiful beach for you to enjoy.
Located on Lanai's northern shore, Polihua beach is known for its tranquil setting. Compared to other beaches, Polihua beach is harder to get to. But arriving in Polihua is all part of the adventure because you can take a 4x4 tour to get there.
Once you've arrived, you can enjoy the 2 miles coastline practically all to yourself. Due to the remote nature of the beach, and the fewer amenities, much fewer folks make it to Polihua.
Polihua beach is great for sunbathing and enjoying the relaxing scenery. It should be noted that strong winds and ocean currents make swimming at Polihua beach not recommended. But if you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy a rough and tumble 4x4 adventure, then Polihua is the beach for you.
Located on the Southern shore is the crown jewel of Lanai's beach scene, Hulopoe beach. Hulopoe beach is Lanai's most popular and accessible beach. With its crystal clear water and relatively calm currents, this beach is ideal for those who want to spend time in the water swimming and snorkeling.
Compared to other beaches on Lanai, Hulopoe beach is ideal for families because of its accessibility, including reliable parking, clean restrooms, and idyllic picnic areas.
If you're a fan of hiking and exploring, Hulopoe beach is also popular for its incredibly diverse and beautiful tide pools. You can explore the inter-tidal world and hike over to Puu Pehe. The Puu Pehe is an iconic landmark on the Lanai coastline and is perfect for those interested in doing some hiking.
The 6-mile shoreline of Shipwreck beach is located just 45 minutes from Lanai City. Shipwreck Beach is a popular attraction due to its unique history and opportunities for hiking and exploring. The ocean surrounding Lanai is notorious for its high winds and rough seas. As such, many ships have either accidentally or intentionally been shipwrecked on Lanai.
Off the coast of Shipwreck Beach, upwards of a dozen vessels have met their end. World War-II navy vessels and other ships from the 19th-century have now become a part of the landscape and coral reef of Lanai.
A Must Do When on Lanai
There is really only one way to genuinely access the backcountry of the island of Lanai, and that is by horseback. Lanai is known for its ruggedness and expansive countryside once you leave the city. Surrounding the resorts are beautiful woodlands, rolling hills, ironwood forests, and breathtaking vistas of the surrounding ocean and nearby islands.
On your guided horseback ride, you may even be lucky enough to spot local wildlife like axis deer, mouflon sheep, and wild turkeys.
Exploring the peaks and valleys of Lanai via horseback is available for all ages and ability levels. You can customize your excursion experience and schedule individual horseback riding lessons. For children, there are even carriage rides!
If you are interested in getting off the beaten path and visiting one of Hawaii's smallest islands, Lanai may just be your best bet. Lanai offers the ideal combination of local culture, rugged adventure, and top-notch resort amenities in order to cater to any type of traveler.