Just 364 km² in size, shaped a bit like a fat comma, tranquil little Lana'i is the smallest inhabited Hawaiian island, and has one town, two championship golf courses, three hotels (two Four Seasons resorts and one lodge built in 1923 to house Dole Company executives), and no traffic signals, which is just the way the residents like it. This is one of the most relaxing island in the state. The two resorts are fabulously elegant and luxurious, but outside of that, the island is tranquil and virtually untouched.
Lanai Holidays Overview
On the south coast, where the Four Season's resort at Manele overlooks the bay, you will find lovely Hulopoe Beach, with terrific snorkelling, beachcombing, sunbathing, and tide pools to explore, and Lanai's main boat harbour, Manele Bay. The sand is a pearly white, and the water a warm and crystalline blue. This is a wonderful spot to watch for Pacific dolphins while soaking up the sun, and in the winter, the humpback whale can be seen from Hulopoe Bay. A short hike from the beach is one of Lana'i's landmarks, Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock). Legend has it that a broken hearted warrior named Makakehau jumped from this high summit when overcome with grief after losing his beloved.
North of Hulopoe Bay, in the cultural and geographic centre of the island, you'll find the cool uplands of Lanai City. Wrapped around Dole Park, you can stay at the historic plantation-style Hotel Lanai or you can shop, dine, and take advantage of the resort facilities and activities at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai -The Lodge at Koele. Because it's in the uplands, the temperature here is a little cooler than in the coastal regions. Lanai City has unique boutiques, inexpensive dining, an art gallery with a wealth of native creations, and acres of tree-lined park to wander through, and a Culture and Heritage Center to explore. For golfers, "The Challenge at Manele" is a stunning oceanfront course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and "The Experience at Koele" is located in the mountains of Lana'i near Lanai City, and is a Greg Norman designed course.
Hire a 4-wheel drive vehicle and explore the rest of the island at your leisure; be sure to take snacks and water with you, as there are very few facilities away from the south coast and the central region. About a half-hour north is Kaiolohia, also called Shipwreck Beach. This windy stretch of beach has wrecked numerous ships along its shallow, rocky channel. In fact, the hull of a ghostly oil tanker from the 1940s is still beached on Kaiolohia Bay's coral reef. It's not really a good place to swim because of the very strong current, but the beachcombing and sunbathing is excellent here. Another 200 yards up a trail are the Kukui Point petroglyphs. To the northwest is the fascinating Keahiakawelo, also called the Garden of the Gods. This rock garden's inexplicably lunar-like topography is covered with rock towers and huge boulders. (Note: the area is mostly unpaved, will require a lot of walking, and the removal or stacking of the rocks is kapu.)
Accommodation on Lanai is limited to just a handful of guesthouses and a couple of small resorts.
Lanai Travel Information
There is no direct air service to Lana'i; visitors must instead travel to either Honolulu Airport in Oahu or Kahului Airport in Maui, and then connect to a local airline that flies to Lana'i Airport, located just five minutes from Lanai City. From Maui you can also take a ferry to Lana'i from the Lahaina Harbour; there are five of these one hour trip each day. Instead of a public transportation system, there is an island-wide shuttle offered through the hotels for a nominal fee.