Shipwreck Beach aka Kaiolohia is one of the spots on Lanai that’s usually recommended to go to when you’re on Lanai for a few days, or if you’re looking to do a drive around the island.
It’s said that because of strong currents, it’s not a beach for swimming.
It’s more of a stop to make for coastal views… and views of an iconic shipwreck!
According to Pulama Lanai, about the coastline of the Shipwreck Beach area:
In ancient times, the winds reportedly drove canoes onto the reefs.
Since the 1820s, the shoreline has been the site of a number of western shipwrecks, and the region has become known as Shipwreck Beach.
In the middle 1950s, the U.S. Navy hauled a large ferro-cement tanker (YOGN-42, constructed in 1943) to scuttle in the deep waters past Maui.
The tanker broke loose and washed onto a reef where it remains today.
You can read more about the history of the Shipwreck Beach coast here.
So in order to drive to the end of the road where you can get a closer view of that iconic shipwreck, it’s basically off-road driving. I’m pretty sure basically all rental cars on Lanai are 4-wheel-drive, so if you rent a car, you will more than likely be fine to do this drive!
Can you get to Shipwreck Beach without a car?
If you don’t mind walking, you can also visit Shipwreck Beach even if you’re on Lanai without a car.
You can get dropped off by the Lanai shuttle at the end of the paved road, and from there it’s around 2 miles to the end of the dirt road. You’ll be walking the same road the cars drive. If you don’t mind wilderness camping, locals say you can also camp at Shipwreck Beach.
But most people will drive to Shipwreck Beach, walk along a short trail to get that closer view of the iconic shipwreck,” maybe see some petroglyphs, and then head back.
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
- Maui to Lanai ferry (watch for whales during whale season!)
- Things to do in West Maui (amazing views!)
- The big list of 50+ things to do on Maui (mostly free and outdoors!)
- What to pack for Hawaii (Hawaii essentials!)
👇 Explore the Lanai map on google maps!
What’s the drive to Shipwreck Beach like?!
I walked to Shipwreck Beach after getting the shuttle drop-off, and again, the walk is the same road that you’d drive.
So, this is a bit of what it would be like if you drive to Shipwreck Beach! I went here in February 2020.
The drive is pretty straightforward.
You can type in Shipwreck Beach into google maps, and that will give you the info you need to get on the correct road that takes you down to the coast from Lanai City!
It then becomes a scenic coastal drive with no turn-offs to the end of the paved road.
And then from there, you just follow the sign that points in the direction of Shipwreck Beach and start driving!
There are a few turn-off points that you can make along the way if you want to stop and take in the views.
You’ll also come across some small abandoned buildings.
You might also come across a dead whale. Or rather, you might come across the smell of a dead whale as you’re driving. You can see it too if you want, if it’s still there. It seems like there aren’t plans to remove it in the near future. It arrived on shore some time around January 2020. If you smell something really bad as you’re driving, it’s probably the whale.
But basically you can keep driving until you reach the end of the road.
And then you’ll see the parking area!
From Lanai City, it might take around 30 minutes to get to this point. From the Four Seasons that’s near Hulopoe Beach and Manele ferry port (where the ferry from Maui arrives), it might take around 45 minutes to get to this point.
From here, there’s a short trail that will take you around so you can get a closer look at the iconic shipwreck. You can also continue walking for as long as you want to get closer, and for a quiet coastal walk!
And that’s a bit of what it might be like driving to Shipwreck Beach in Lanai!
Also see more things to do on Lanai, which includes some Lanai hikes with ocean views!
HAPPY DRIVING TO SHIPWRECK BEACH!
See the list:
- Things to do on Lanai
- Maui to Lanai ferry
- Things to do on Maui (for VIEWS!)
- Things to do in Haleakala National Park
- Road to Hana stops (for views!)
There are affiliate links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from this.
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!
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.
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!
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.
More for your Lanai packing list
- How a cheapo waterproof phone case works
- 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