Dwarfed by neighboring Maui, Lanai is Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island. Miles of backroads and open spaces, geological formations, and quiet beaches offer the opportunity for rugged adventure far from the beaten path. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all without having to go very far from Hawaii's more populated islands.
Those not staying at one of Lanai’s posh luxury resorts often explore Lanai on a day trip from West Maui. Tours departing from Lahaina offer an economic way to experience this land, once dominated by sugar plantations. The waters off the coast rank among the best in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving, and on a snorkel trip from Maui, it’s possible to spot Hawaiian spinner, bottlenose, and spotted dolphins as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lanai is a must-visit for nature lovers and those looking to get away from it all.
- Don’t forget to bring sun protection; Lanai’s desert-like climate means there’s little shade.
- If you’re renting a car, keep in mind that most of the island’s roads are unpaved.
How to Get There
Lanai island lies 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the west coast of Maui, opposite the historic old whaling port of Lahaina. It’s a 30-minute ferry trip from the mainland. A small airport on the island is serviced by regional flights from Honolulu, Kapalua, and Molokai.
When to Get There
The climate in Lanai, like much of Hawaii, is close to ideal throughout the year. Visitors during the winter months might see slightly more frequent rain showers and a higher surf. Peak season for whale watching falls between December and April.
Beaches of Lanai
While Lanai isn’t as well-known for its beaches as neighboring Maui, it still has some gems worthy of an afternoon in the sand. The best and most popular is Hulopoe Beach, located in front of the Four Seasons. A 4-wheel-drive vehicle takes you to Polihua Beach—an often empty stretch of sand that’s ideal for sunbathing.