You can spend a day on Lanai by taking the Lanai ferry from Maui, walk to Hulopoe Beach, and then take one of the hiking trails from the beach!
If you’re seeking a bit of luxury, Lanai is home to a couple of the most exclusive resorts in the world.
Lanai can be thought of as somewhat of the luxury island in Hawaii.
But Lanai is not just for luxury travelers.
If you’re looking for a quiet day trip in Hawaii, Lanai can make for a perfect day trip too!
So Lanai is one of the islands in Hawaii.
Lanai is a part of Maui County that most notably includes the Hawaiian islands of Lanai, Maui, and Molokai.
👆 Map of where Lanai is located in Hawaii. Explore the Hawaiian islands map on google maps.
“It’s always quiet on Lanai”
Actual quote from a Lanai resident!
What is Lanai known for?
First, the quick list of the top 5 things to do on Lanai without a car.
Then, a few more things to do on Lanai, along with some details on the top Lanai activities!
5 best things to do in Lanai Hawaii
1. Hulopoe Beach
5. Lanai City
Can you stay on the island of Lanai?
Lanai is a luxury vacation destination and the accommodation options are really limited.
You can stay on the island of Lanai at one of the 2 luxury resorts or 1 “standard” hotel.
The cheapest hotel on Lanai costs like $400 a night.
And then there are maybe a couple of bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and airbnbs, which would cost likely at minimum $200 a night.
There are 3 hotels where you can stay on the island of Lanai:
So having these accommodation options really limits the amount of people who stay on Lanai as a tourist.
But the limited accommodation options doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a visit to this quiet Hawaiian island just because you won’t be staying overnight on Lanai!
Day trip to Lanai
Lanai is pretty easily accessible.
If you’re staying on Maui, there’s a ferry to Lanai that you can take from Lahaina in West Maui to make it a day trip to Lanai. (West Maui is one of the popular beach town areas for tourists to stay on Maui.)
Is a day trip to Lanai worth it?!
I think a day trip to Lanai is not JUST about Lanai. But it is also about the journey… getting there! As in, it’s also about the boat ride to Lanai!
I mean, why wouldn’t you want to sail out on the water in Hawaii?!
You may have a chance to see a rainbow form over the ocean… and if it’s whale season, you may have a chance to spot some whales off in the distance too! (The channel between Maui and Lanai is considered to be among the best spots, if not THE best, for whale watching in Hawaii.)
Personally, I think it could make for a perfect day trip to take the Maui to Lanai ferry, hike the scenic coastal trails around Hulopoe Bay, hang out at Hulopoe Beach with some swimming and snorkeling, and then end your day with a Lanai to Maui ferry! (More on the Hulopoe Bay activities below!)
How long is the boat ride from Maui to Lanai?
The boat ride from Maui to Lanai might be around 45 minutes to an hour long.
It can depend on the ocean conditions which can make a smooth sailing, or it can make it take a little longer!
See pictures from the boat ride:
If you’re staying on another Hawaiian island like Oahu, the Big Island, or Kauai, there’s an airport on Lanai so you can fly into and out of Lanai. (Although, because of time in transit, Maui and Oahu would be the most ideal islands to make a day trip from.)
For interisland flights to Lanai, see:
Lanai airport code is LNY.
Getting around Lanai without a car
Aside from a tour, there are 2 options for getting around Lanai without a car:
If you are arriving by ferry from Maui, you’ll arrive at Manele Harbor.
You can then walk to Hulopoe Beach from which you can do a number of the activities on the list below.
To get around Lanai otherwise, there’s a Lanai shuttle that will basically drive you to anywhere there’s a paved road.
This is basically between the harbor and city and the airport.
You will want to call about the Lanai shuttle service before you go, and the phone numbers can be found on the Lanai ferry website.
Renting a car on Lanai is also an option, although you can expect to pay $200 (or more) for a one-day car rental.
Most, if not all, car rentals on Lanai will be a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
👆 That’s a Lanai rental car. So also don’t expect a brand new jeep just because it’s $200 a day! (Lanai is a small island and I saw the people in this car elsewhere on Lanai earlier. They saw me walking to the Hulopoe Beach campground with all my gear and offered me a ride! By coincidence I also saw them driving on this trail. This is Munro Trail or nearby.)
10+ things to do in Lanai without a car
I refer to some things as being popular.
But don’t take this to mean that there are crowds!
It’s Lanai, after all!
The only place you’ll really see TONS of people (if you call it that) might be at the ferry port when there’s an arrival or departure of the Maui ferry!
Probably the biggest “crowd” you’ll see on Lanai.
Aside from this, people are generally dispersed, and you likely won’t really notice a TON of people!
My visit to Lanai was in February 2020. Your experience may vary!
Now, here are some things to consider doing when you’re visiting Lanai!
Again, the ferry from Maui (the only Hawaiian island from which you can get to Lanai by boat) arrives at Manele Harbor.
There’s a small general store here if you want to pick up some quick eats.
There’s not a huge variety but if you’re hungry there’s also some frozen meals that you can heat up with the microwave at the store. You can buy 21+ drinks here. Drinking is permitted at Hulopoe Beach Park as long as you’re consuming it at the picnic tables. (You’re not supposed to sit on the sand and drink. They do check for this.) You might also stop by the general store for some Lanai-specific souvenir shopping. (Like a Lanai t-shirt.)
2. Hulopoe Bay Beach
This is a well-maintained beach park with facilities, including bathrooms and plenty of picnic tables.
This is a pretty wide beach, and it’s one that you can hang out at.
There are also a couple of hiking trails (listed below!) that start from Hulopoe Bay, on both sides of the beach.
Hulopoe Bay is where you will find the Four Seasons Lanai
If you are staying at this Four Seasons, then Hulopoe Beach will be the beach you will frequent!
Camping in Lanai at Hulopoe Beach Park
There is a campground at Hulopoe Beach Park. This is also the only official campground on Lanai.
While you aren’t camping directly at the beach, you can see the beach and the ocean from the campground. (Lanai residents seem to be able to camp directly on the beach here.)
The cost for camping in Lanai here is $80 per night with a 3 night maximum.
The Hulopoe Beach campground may still be closed, so be sure to check the Lanai community website for updates.
3. Puupehe trail to see sweetheart rock
The “destination” here is to see the sweetheart rock!
But along the way you’ll find great ocean views, including of Shark’s Bay.
If you’re on Lanai early enough, then this is also considered a sunrise spot on Lanai.
See more about this Lanai activity near Four Seasons: Sweetheart Rock overlook trail
4. Hulopoe Bay tide pools
Shortly after you start the sweetheart rock trail from the beach, you might notice a set of stairs that lead to the ocean. This will take you to the Hulopoe Bay tide pools!
As long as the ocean conditions permit, you can actually walk all along the coast right along the ocean, with the lava rocks and tide pools being the “trail”! This can take you all the way to the beach at Shark’s Bay!
See more about this Lanai activity: Hulopoe Bay tide pools
5. Sharks Bay
So you can see Shark’s Bay from above when you’re walking on the sweetheart rock trail.
But you can also head down to the beach here too. The “easy” way would be the tide pool trail mentioned above.
There is also a more direct way, that can be considered to be on the difficult side. There’s a “path” that you can take that is pretty much nearly vertical along the cliff that you can take from the Puupehe Trail that will get you straight to the beach without having to loop around.
Also, be on the lookout for Hawaiian monk seals on the beach! One time I was here, there was a seal visiting! (Also have a look at where to see seals on Maui.)
This is another hiking trail that starts from Hulopoe Beach, on the other side of the bay from the sweetheart rock trail. (So the Fisherman’s Trail goes along the coastal side of the Four Seasons.)
This trail will give you grand coastal views!
See more about this Lanai activity near Four Seasons: Fishermans Trail
This is a hike that will give you views of the neighbor islands of Maui and Molokai!
You can get the shuttle to the Four Seasons Sensei wellness resort which is near Lanai City. The trail starts near the resort. This will likely be a 2-3 hour hike.
See more about this Lanai activity near Four Seasons Sensei: Koloiki Ridge Trail
8. Shipwreck Beach
This is one of the popular spots to drive to on Lanai. You can also make it into a hike by walking the same road that cars drive on.
You’ll be able to get the shuttle to where the paved road ends, and then from there it will be about 2 miles until the point that you will come across the Shipwreck Beach sign. From there, you can keep walking further along the beach as far as you want. (There’s miles of coastline!)
Most people simply get a little bit closer look at the shipwreck and then leave.
See more about this Lanai activity: Shipwreck Beach
Also, as of around January 2020, there’s a dead whale on the beach. Supposedly it may not get removed. You will know when you’re passing by it because you will very likely smell it along the way as you are headed to the end of the road. You can actually go and see it too if it’s still there.
Camping in Lanai at Shipwreck Beach
According to Lanai locals, you can also camp at Shipwreck Beach no problem.
Consider this to be wild beach camping though! This is like backcountry wilderness camping, except you’re on a beach. Meaning there are no facilities.
You can basically just walk along the beach until you find an area you want to set up camp. I didn’t exactly choose the best spot. It was REALLY windy and my tent was flapping like crazy! (Although around the time I was on Lanai it was said to be especially windy…)
I also went further along on the beach which meant hiking across lava rocks to get to my camp spot! Very Hawaii camping experience. 😉
When I was camping here, a turtle had come up onto shore to rest right in front of my tent! I stepped out of my tent, and it was just THERE!
9. Poaiwa petroglyphs
This is something to do during your visit to Shipwreck Beach.
You can also find a trail to see petroglyphs nearby, and you can go on a search for petroglyphs. Follow the stacked stones to stay on the trail (and to find the petroglyphs).
You can consider this a coastal hike too! You’ll be climbing up a hill to get to the petroglyphs, and you’ll be able to get views of the ocean while on the trail!
See more about this Lanai activity: Poaiwa Petroglyphs
10. Garden of the Gods
Well, this may not be considered do-able without a car for most people, but if you think of this as a solid (and long) day hike, you can go here without a car on your own!
This is another one of the popular spots that people drive to. It’s a drive on a dirt road.
It’ll be like a 12-13 mile hike. Once again, if you’re without a car, you can get a shuttle to the point where the paved road ends.
If you’ll be renting a 4wd, you can go to Garden of the Gods, and then drive further to the remote beach of Polihua Beach. This isn’t a beach for swimming (rough ocean), but it will likely be like having your own private beach.
See more about this Lanai activity: Garden of the Gods
11. Lanai City
There’s really not so much to do in Lanai City. And “city” isn’t really a city at all. It’s more like a small town. As they say, there are no traffic lights on Lanai.
But it can be nice to walk along the streets of quiet Lanai passing by residential neighborhoods.
If you’re looking for a quiet picnic spot, the Dole Park is basically right in the middle of town. You can stop by the grocery store in Lanai City called Richard’s Market for some picnic items and then have lunch in the park! Or, you can stop at the Blue Ginger Cafe and order takeout to do the same.
12. Golf at Four Seasons
Lanai does have a golf course!
The best Lanai golf course is part of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.
It is a golf course that overlooks the ocean!
As of early 2022, you must be an overnight guest (or pay for an overnight stay) in order to golf at the Four Seasons Lanai golf course.
Call to confirm current information. The listed phone number for the Four Seasons Lanai front desk is (808) 565-2000.
If you bring your own golf clubs and take the ferry to Lanai from Maui, the ferry does have a designated area to store your golf clubs.
See more about the Four Seasons Lanai golf course.
And there’s a bit on what to do in Lanai!
If you are thinking about staying on Lanai, next see cost, photos, and reviews of Lanai’s only hotels:
- Hotel Lanai (located in Lanai City)
- Four Seasons Resort Lanai (located at Hulopoe Bay, the main beach on Lanai)
- Sensei Lanai (the Four Seasons Koele wellness resort located in Lanai City)
Day trips from Lanai
If you decide that you want to spend most of your time on Lanai, it can be reasonable to make a day trip to another Hawaiian island. Although, it will be a much more relaxing vacation if you stay on Lanai the whole time!
But in case you do want to consider going to another island since you’re “in the neighborhood,” some one day trips you may want to consider:
- Haleakala National Park (Maui’s volcano – see the summit and do the volcano crater hike)
- Road to Hana (Maui’s famous highway – prioritize with waterfalls, the black sand beach state park, the national park bamboo forest hike, and maybe the red sand beach hike)
- Pearl Harbor Memorial (Oahu)
Maui’s main airport is OGG Kahului airport in central Maui. Oahu’s airport is HNL Honolulu Airport.
You’ll need to rent a car for Haleakala National Park and the Road to Hana. You can do without renting a car for Pearl Harbor (there’s the Oahu bus), but having a car will give you more time to explore the rest of Oahu, like the North Shore of Oahu and the east side of Oahu, if you won’t be spending all day at Pearl Harbor, which is possible!
If you want to take the ferry to get to Maui and don’t want to rent a car, then once you get to Maui you can take the bus to Kapalua and spend your day in Kapalua. (Although this bus route is only once an hour so you’ll want to plan carefully – use google maps public transit option.) You can also rent a car in Kapalua (there’s also a small airport here) and go further north to see the northern coast of West Maui. You can see Maui’s rugged coastline and stunning views, along with the back road of West Maui!
Lanai, or another island in Hawaii?!
And if you’re still not sure which Hawaiian island to choose, also see…!
- Hawaiian islands map with best things to do in Hawaii
- Maui or the Big Island for your first trip to Hawaii?
- Top things to do on Maui
- Top things to do on the Big Island
- Top things to do on Oahu + Best of Oahu in 3 days
- Best island to see old lava flows in Hawaii
HAPPY FIRST TRIP TO LANAI!
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Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
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More for your Lanai packing list
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- Why wear water shoes for the beach
- Why a personal swim buoy is an essential for snorkeling and swimming in the ocean
- Essentials to pack for Hawaii
- Best shoes for Hawaii
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