With no traffic – or any traffic lights – Lanai is the sixth largest Hawaiian Island, and the smallest inhabited Hawaiian Island at approximately 141 square miles. The island is home to approximately 3,100 residents, and is often known as the Pineapple Island, due to its history as an island-wide pineapple plantation.
With sweeping panoramic views, stunning beaches, and an excess of charm, a trip to Lanai truly is the vacation dreams are made of. While the island is small, a plethora of amazing activities makes planning a vacation overwhelming – luckily for you, we’ve highlighted the best of the best in terms of accommodations, activities, and even restaurants for your trip to this secluded island paradise.
This small Hawaiian Island is home to two luxury Four Seasons Resorts – the Lodge at Koele, and Manele Bay, as well as the Hotel Lanai.
The Hotel Lanai is located in Lanai City, and is set in a restored 1923 plantation home that was built for Dole pineapple executives.
The Lodge at Koele is nestled amongst Cook Island Pines and lush greenery in upcountry Lanai, and is a distinctive Hawaiian escape.
The Lodge is currently closed and undergoing extensive renovations, and is set to open later this year.
The Four Seasons Resorts Lanai at Manele Bay is set atop a lava cliff overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean, a two-minute walk from Hulopoe Beach and 10 miles from Lanai City.
The resort is home to sophisticated rooms and suites, as well as four luxury restaurants, two stylish bars, a pool, two hot tubs, and golf course.
Lanai City was founded in the early 1900s as a plantation town built around the island’s booming pineapple industry. The town is located at 1,700 feet above sea level, and is the only town on the island.
The town features a variety of charming shops, boutiques, and eateries.
While in Lanai City, we suggest grabbing your morning cup of Joe from Coffee Works, breakfast or lunch favorites from Blue Ginger Café, and lunch or dinner at Canoe's Lanai Restaurant. Oh, and the fresh squeezed juice and smoothies from Anuenue Juice Bar + Café is absolutely to die for.
For Lanai's best views, head to Garden of the Gods.
Keahiakawelo, also known as Garden of the Gods, is a magnificent rock garden located at the end of Polihua Road, 45 minutes from Lanai City. According to Hawaiian legend, the landscape is a result of a contest between two kahuna (priests) from Lanai and Molokai. They were challenged to keep a fire burning on their respective islands longer than the other. Kawelo, the kahuna from Lanai, used all vegetation in Keahiakawelo to keep the fire burning – which is why the area is so barren.
If you're looking for a unique beach experience, you'll want to check out Shipwreck Beach.
If you head about a half hour north of Lanai City – in a vehicle with four-wheel drive – you will find Shipwreck Beach, a windy eight-mile stretch of sand that has been the site of various shipwrecks. As a matter of fact, the hull of a 1940s ghostly oil tanker is still beached on the reef, giving the beach a sense of surreal beauty.
Golfers will want to check out The Challenge at Manele Bay, pictured below, or the Experience at Koele.
Both courses are meticulously designed, award-winning, and combine dynamic golf with beautiful views and dramatic natural terrain.
For a thrilling underwater adventure, consider diving at the Cathedrals, Lanai's most popular diving spot.
Experienced scuba divers will fall in love with the Cathedrals, underwater pinnacle formations formed by underwater lava tubes and illuminated by shimmering rays of light.
For the adventure seeker or photographer in your group, Munro Trail is an absolute must-visit.
Named in honor of George Munro, the naturalist from New Zealand who arrived to Hawaii in 1890, the Munro Trail is a 12.8-mile, one lane dirt road that offers sweeping views of the gorgeous rainforest. The trail takes you to the top of the House of Lanai at 3,370 feet, and can also be biked or hiked.
If you’re interested in gorgeous views and interesting geological structures, you’ve got to experience Sweetheart Rock.
Puu Pehe, often referred to as Sweetheart Rock, is not only a magnificent natural landmark but a geological formation steeped in Hawaiian legend.
The story goes that there were two lovers, a Hawaiian maiden named Pehe from Lahaina and a warrior from Lanai named Makakehua. He was extremely taken with her beauty, and he hid her in a sea cave at the base of Manele’s cliffs. One day, while gathering supplies, he noticed a storm coming and started back to Pehe, who had drowned by the massive waves. Makakehua was devastated and wailed out to his ancestors to help him climb the steep rock island where he eventually buried her and jumped into the pounding surf below.
And when you're done experiencing all the island has to offer, relax at Hulopoe Beach.
Hulopoe Bay, a protected marine reserve, is a picturesque crescent-shaped bay ideal for snorkeling as well as a popular area for seeing spinner dolphins and even humpback whales.
So, what are you waiting for? There is never a wrong time to experience Lanai’s magnificent natural beauty and old world Hawaii charm.