So you want to go from Maui to Lanai!
There are flights that go from Maui to Lanai, but of course the BEST way to get from Maui to Lanai is by BOAT!
Because why wouldn’t you want to sail across the ocean to go island hopping in Hawaii?! 😄
There is a “public” ferry that goes from Maui to Lanai. (And from Lanai to Maui.)
And, the ferry that goes between Maui and Lanai is the ONLY public ferry that exists in Hawaii. (There used to be a Molokai ferry so you could go from Maui to Molokai by ferry, but that no longer exists.)
So going by ferry from Lanai to Maui means that you’ll depart from the Lahaina Harbor in West Maui…
If it’s whale season (generally speaking winter months), you might even be able to see whales off in the distance, so be on the lookout! The channel between Maui and Lanai is said to be one of the top spots (if not THE top spot) for whale watching in all of Hawaii. Bring binoculars!
And, if it’s rained recently, you might even spot a rainbow over the ocean!
More below about the ferry to Lanai from Maui!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
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- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- Do you need water shoes for Hawaii?
- THE top things to pack for Hawaii
- The top 5 Maui adventures you definitely need to think about doing: Maui tour OR on your own?
- Driving to the top of the Haleakala summit
- Road to Hana food stops
- Best Road to Hana hikes
- Things to do in Hana
- Things to do in the West Maui mountains
Here is somewhat how it can go to take the ferry from Maui to Lanai!
I took the ferry from Maui to Lanai in February 2020 for 2 trips to Lanai. One was an early morning ferry departure from Maui, and the other was a daytime ferry departure from Maui.
So for 2021, exact policies and processes have changed since then, but below will generally be the experience of taking a ferry from Maui to Lanai! Check the official Lanai ferry website to confirm what you need to know!
How to get from Maui to Lanai by ferry
- Buy a ferry ticket
- Go to the Lahaina Harbor (aka the Maui ferry port)
- Wait for the ferry to arrive at Lahaina Harbor (it’s coming from Lanai!)
- Take a seat on the ferry!
- Enjoy the ferry ride from Maui to Lanai!!!
- Arrive at the Manele Harbor!
- ENJOY LANAI!!
Buy a ferry ticket
This is a passenger ferry only, so you cannot take the ferry from Maui to Lanai with a car.
Each ferry has a capacity of how many people can be on the boat. This means that tickets can (and do) get sold out.
So while it has been possible to buy a ferry ticket when you show up at the Maui ferry port, you are better off booking your ticket in advance to ease your mind. For my Lanai trip during busy season, it was fine to book a few days in advance (even the day before, and I know people who bought tickets on the day of), but again, you always have a chance of sold out tickets! Tickets are also more likely to sell out for the ferry timings that are most convenient for a day trip.
If you do want to try booking your ticket in person, it’s best to pay attention to the ferry timings and go at a time when there isn’t a ferry departure soon. It will be less crowded that way.
One advantage of waiting to book your ticket is so you can take a look at the weather. While weather reports may not always be reliable, if there’s an impending storm or heavy rains in the forecast you may want to reconsider. If the seas are too rough, it’s possible that your ferry could get canceled. It’s possible for a ferry to be canceled even just an hour (maybe even less!) before departure.
👆 Text message of canceled ferry departures.
The official ferry booking website to book your Maui to Lanai ferry ticket is the Expeditions Lanai ferry website. This is also where to check for current information about the ferry to Lanai. If you are looking to book a ferry ticket for late 2021, you may need to call to book. (There will be a note when you attempt to book your ticket if so.)
The cost of a ferry ticket from Maui to Lanai is around $30 one way.
👆 Ferry timings during normal times. Check the ferry website for updated schedule!
Go to the Lahaina Harbor
The Lahaina Harbor is where you’ll get the ferry to Lanai from, so basically you can call it the Maui ferry port. This is the Lahaina small boat harbor.
The Lahaina Harbor is located in a convenient area, basically right around “downtown” Lahaina.
So the Maui ferry port is located in a walkable area from downtown Lahaina. It’s also located about a 5 minute walk from the main Lahaina bus transit center, which is located at the Wharf Cinema Center aka the Wharf shops and restaurants.
You will need a paper ticket to board the ferry.
If you booked your ferry ticket online, you will need to pick up a physical ticket when you get to the Lahaina Harbor. It will be best to have your confirmation email accessible, along with photo ID.
There’s a booth located outdoors right near the ferry departure spot that will be staffed.
If it’s not a big hassle for you to go to the Lahaina Harbor at a time when there’s no upcoming ferry departure, you might stop by to pick up your ferry ticket then. Otherwise there will likely be a longer line the closer you get to a ferry departure time. The Lahaina ferry booth is usually staffed throughout the day. This is also where you can buy your ferry ticket in-person.
Wait for the ferry to arrive at Lahaina Harbor
The Maui – Lanai ferry goes back and forth throughout the day. Unless you’re taking the first ferry of the day, you’ll be waiting on the ferry that’s coming from Lanai.
There is a bathroom 1-2 minutes walk from where you’ll board the ferry. When you are facing inland towards the mountains (not the ocean), it’s over to the right side in a green building. (So the opposite direction of the iconic Pioneer Inn hotel which is off to the left.)
Then, once the ferry arrives…
Get on and take a seat on the ferry!
If you’re bringing luggage on board, you’ll carry that on yourself. So there is no “check-in” process for luggage. You’ll find a luggage storage area on the same level (lower deck) that you walk onto the ferry. There are shelves, and there’s also an area for golf bags.
You can choose to sit indoors or outdoors. There are no assigned seats. And because you can sit anywhere you want, it will probably be better to get in line earlier rather than later if you want a specific seat, like a window seat indoors or along the outer portion outdoors.
Everyone needs to be sitting on departure and arrival. For your own safety, it’s better to be seated throughout the entire sailing in case there is unexpected roughness of the sea. But you are able to stand and move around during the ferry ride.
There are life jackets on board, but you are not required to wear them for the ride. However, it’s always good to know where they are located! So take a look around.
If you plan to sit outdoors, you might want to bring along a light jacket or sweatshirt for the ride just in case. Aside from the lower temperatures in the early morning and evening, the wind can make it feel cooler any time of day out on the water!
Enjoy the ferry ride from Maui to Lanai!!!
At some point after the boat has set sail, there will be someone who will come around to check your tickets so you’ll want to keep that handy.
The time on boat can vary depending on ocean conditions, but you can generally expect the ferry ride from Maui to Lanai to take around 45 minutes to an hour.
Arrive in Lanai!
You will arrive at the Manele Harbor in Lanai. This is also a small boat harbor.
From the Manele Harbor, you can walk to Hulopoe Beach. This is about a 10 minute walk.
Hulopoe Beach is the main beach of Lanai. This is a beach with facilities. Hulopoe Bay is a marine life conservation district in Maui County aka it’s a good snorkeling spot! There’s also the Hulopoe Beach campground.
From Hulopoe Beach, there are hiking trails on both sides. Off to the left side of the beach as you are facing the ocean is a coastal trail to the iconic sweetheart rock. Off to the right side of the beach is the Fisherman’s Trail which is another scenic coastal hike that also serves as a heritage trail on Lanai where you can learn about how Hawaiians lived off the land long ago.
If you want to go into the town area of Lanai City, then you can take the Lanai shuttle from the harbor.
Arriving to Lanai: See more about Lanai without a car
And that’s a bit about the boat ride to Lanai from Maui!
If you’re making it a day trip, then you can also enjoy the views on the way back when you take the ferry from Lanai to Maui!
Plan more of your trip to Hawaii:
- The best of Lahaina without a car
- The best of Kapalua
- The best of West Maui
- The best of Maui by car
- The best of Lanai
HAPPY FERRY RIDE FROM MAUI TO LANAI!
Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
Possibly among the best Maui maps for tourists!The Franko maps of Hawaii have a high level of detail for activities and it's beachproof aka waterproof. There's an "adventure" guide map and a "snorkel/dive" guide map. Plus a wall map for home to get you excited for your upcoming trip!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of these amazing tours on Maui:
- Molokini Crater and Turtle Town snorkeling or snuba tour
- Haleakala sunrise tour with breakfast
- Road to Hana driving tour with lunch
- Dream Hawaii helicopter flight #1: Fly over 2 Hawaiian islands to see Maui and Molokai waterfalls, rainforest, and sea cliffs
- Dream Hawaii helicopter flight #2: Hana waterfalls and rainforest from above plus Hana fruit plantation walk on the ground
- Sailing the ocean with a sail + snorkel trip