Island hopping is a popular activity on both cruise and land vacations, particularly for those staying on Maui. Some of Hawaii’s most enchanting islands are just a short ferry ride away, making it convenient for visitors to take day trips or even add an overnight visit. Each island offers unique experiences and a decidedly different feel, allowing travelers to see and do more during their Hawaii vacation.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America overnights in Maui’s port of Kahului, giving its cruise guests two full days to explore. For cruise passengers and land-based vacationers who are already familiar with some of Maui’s delights, taking a day trip to Lanai should be at the top of their excursion list. This unspoiled island paradise is filled with stunning beaches, breathtaking landscapes, exciting adventures and world-class vacation experiences. Un-Cruise Adventures includes a full day in Lanai on their Hawaii cruise itinerary as well.
Lanai is different from Maui in a number of ways. While Hawaii’s warm aloha spirit is alive and well on both islands, Lanai is an undeveloped paradise filled with beautiful open vistas and stunning contrasts. Here you’ll find lavish five-star luxury and superb championship golf juxtaposed with forty-seven miles of pristine coastline and networks of red dirt roads that can be explored via four-wheel drive. There are just two hotel properties currently operating on Lanai and only thirty miles of the island’s roads are paved.
Lanai is called “Hawaii’s Most Enticing Island,” and the name is well-deserved. The island, its people and its culture combine to create an incredible experience. Home to just over 3,000 residents, Lanai has one small town and no traffic lights.
Most of the island’s friendly residents live in Lanai City, which features a number of restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. The historic Hotel Lanai is located here as well. Visitors enjoy viewing stunning artwork at the Mike Carroll Gallery, browsing through shops such as The Local Gentry, lunching at Blue Ginger Café or Pele’s Other Garden, or sampling delicious poke at the Lanai Ohana Poke Market. The fascinating historical exhibits at the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center make it well worth a stop, too.
Explore Unspoiled Natural Beauty
It’s easy to take a day trip to Lanai on the EXPEDITIONS ferry service, which departs to and from Maui’s Lahaina Harbor five times each day. Humpback whales can often be spotted on the company’s short ferry rides from late December through April. EXPEDITIONS offers a number of “Explore Lanai” packages catering to various interests. Some include championship golf, guided tours, and even overnight accommodations for those who would like to stay longer. Those who wish to explore Lanai on their own can reserve a 4 wheel-drive Jeep through EXPEDITIONS or make advance reservations to rent a vehicle through Dollar Rent A Car on Lanai. Daily scheduled flights to Lanai from Honolulu International Airport and Maui’s Kahului Airport are available as well.
It’s impossible to take in everything on Lanai in one day, so short-term visitors should review the options and make plans in advance. Lanai’s exquisite beaches will beckon lovers of sun and sand. Two of the most notable off-the-beaten-path beaches are dreamy two-mile long Polihua Beach and Kaiolohia, an eight-mile long strand known as Shipwreck Beach. Ancient petroglyphs can be found in this area and green turtles (honu) are often seen sunning themselves on the sands there as well. Other favorite spots are Puu Pehe, also called Sweetheart Rock, and Hulopoe Bay.
Hulopoe Bay is a protected marine preserve. Its rich waters are great for snorkeling, swimming and other water sports such as SNUBA. Hulopoe Beach has been named as America’s Best Beach by “Doctor Beach,” Stephen Leatherman. Walking along this beautiful strand, it’s easy to see why.
While Lanai features some of Hawaii’s best beaches, it’s also one of the top islands for adventurous exploration. Guided tours with Rabaca’s Limousine Service or touring independently via four-wheel drive are popular here. Don’t miss viewing the lunar-like landscapes found at Keahiakawelo, known as Garden of the Gods. The huge boulders and rock formations are unlike anything found on other islands and the colors are extraordinary. Visitors also enjoy hiking or 4-wheel driving along Lanai's famed Munro Trail. This single-lane dirt trail leads up to the highest peak on the island and offers spectacular views from multiple lookout areas.
Five-Star Luxury Awaits
While beautiful beaches and rugged adventure may be heaven for some vacationers, world-class luxury experiences are the ultimate form of paradise for others. The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay delivers all of those things – and then some. It’s not just the accommodations and amenities that are superb at this property. The staff and service are phenomenal as well.
The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is set overlooking the ocean and beautiful Hulopoe Beach. Named as one of world’s Best Beach Hotels by readers of Travel + Leisure, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai delights guests with its newly renovated and richly appointed rooms and suites, dining venues, state-of-the-art spa, and immersive guest experiences. Guests who are just visiting Lanai for the day may wish have lunch at one of the resort’s restaurants such as Kailani or VIEWS at Manele Golf, with its breathtaking views of Puu Pehe and Hulopoe Bay. Golfers will want to make advance reservations to play the Manele Golf Course, the resort’s 18-hole par 72 championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Luxury and adventure are all part of the Lanai experience, and there are opportunities to give back here as well. The non-profit Lanai Animal Rescue Center (L.A.R.C.) outdoor animal sanctuary is home to well over 300 homeless cats, affectionately known as “Lana'ian Lions.” Island visitors can come every day between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help with the sanctuary’s “Pet & Purr” cat socialization program and other activities. The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay has partnered with L.A.R.C. on voluntourism activities through its Kokua Project as well.
For more detailed information about planning a trip to Lanai, visit http://www.gohawaii.com/lanai.