SCUBA Diving

The towering pali, or coastal sea cliffs, you see on the coast of Lanai, don’t just stop when they hit water and meet with the crashing waves. Rather, the volcanic formations keep plunging their way down, creating walls, pinnacles, coves, and caves that house reef fish, turtles, and sharks. Unlike some of the shorelines on Maui, there is minimal runoff here on Lanai, thanks to the volcanic cliffs, which help filter the water and keep visibility in a consistent range of 80-100 feet.

On an adventurous day of scuba diving on Lanai, swim through the famous “First Cathedral” with its enormous underwater dome, and feel the powerful rush of the current as you launch yourself out of “The Shotgun.” At “Second Cathedrals,” on the southwestern coast, shine your light on a sprig of black coral that clings to the roof of the cave, and there’s always the chance you could encounter a pod of dolphins passing overhead.

Snorkeling

Lanai is blessed with one of Hawaii’s most beautiful bays for snorkeling. At Hulopo‘e Bay, where a long swath of beautifully white sand gives way to a turquoise shore, schools of Yellow and Convict Tang all flit and dart through the reef, while cerulean parrotfish the size of your thigh all crunch and nibble on coral. The sound of Spinner dolphins resting in the bay adds a soundtrack of high pitched squeaks, and in winter the song of Humpback whales plays just beneath the waves.

On the east shore of Lanai, by Kahalepalaoa, Hawaiian Green sea turtles bob on the surface and scour the nearshore waters, which are best for snorkeling in early morning when the water is calm and clear.

Sailing

Lana’i is a short but scenic sail away from the island of Maui. On the way you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery, and during whale season, you have a great chance of seeing Humpback Whales! No doubt about it, sailing across the ‘Au’au Channel with the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair is the best way to start off your Lana’i day trip adventure.

Trilogy is the only boat company with permission to take guests to Hulopo’e Bay. They offer day trips, departing from Lahaina Harbor at 10am or 6:30am (if in season), and provide a ton of amenities including coffee, breakfast, lunch, beverages and snorkeling/SNUBA equipment.

Hunting

Whether it’s scouring the arid, red dirt ridgelines for a trophy axis deer buck, or searching ravines for mouflon sheep as they scramble over the rocks, hunters on Lanai find greater success than almost anywhere else in the state. For bird hunters, the island is home to wild turkeys as well as chukar and quail, and local people are always happy to “talk story” of their recent hunts.

Nearly all hunting grounds require 4×4 access to reach the isolated terrain, and hunters will need a Hawaii state hunting license and proper permits and tags.

Golfing

Clinging to the sea cliffs outside of Manele—where teeing off requires driving your shot out over the crashing surf—the Jack Nicklaus designed, Challenge at Manele is one of Hawaii’s best courses.  Nearly every hole has ocean views from the wide but challenging fairways, and it can sometimes be difficult to focus on your putt when whales are seen breaching from the green.

The aptly named clubhouse restaurant, Views, looks directly towards Hulopo‘e Beach, where dolphins are often seen splashing in the cove as snorkelers float above the reef. Or, for a budget experience in the Lana‘i City uplands, the 9-hole public Cavendish course is completely free of charge.

Hiking

From the mist shrouded treetops of Munro Trail to the sands of Polihua Beach, hiking on Lanai is an adventurous journey of walking your way back through time.

On the short hike to Kaiolohia Beach, get up close views of the Liberty ship that was purposely grounded offshore, and search for ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs just a few hundred yards from the coast.

Historians and photographers with a high degree of fitness can make the trek down to Kaunolu—an abandoned village with a sacred heiau that was frequented by royalty and chiefs. See the spot where King Kahekili would practice lele kawa, or the sport of throwing himself off a cliff to the cobalt waters below.

Outside Lanai City is Munro Trail, which in addition to climbing for nearly six miles to the pine-laden summit of Lanai, has sweeping vistas of the island’s eastern coast and historic Maunalei gulch.

Or, if you have a half an hour to spare and are down at Hulopo‘e Beach, the short hike around the corner leads to Pu‘u Pehe Overlook, where the stoic structure of “Sweetheart Rock” rises directly up before you.

Camping

If your dreamy idea of a “morning pick me up” is strolling from your tent to the waves, then camping on Lanai is an affordable option for making that dream a reality. There’s camping available at Hulopo‘e Beach Park just steps from the white sand beach, where facilities like restrooms, trash cans, and showers make a convenient and comfortable base. Camping elsewhere on the island’s shoreline is strictly unofficial, as there are no facilities, food, or water—just you, the shore, and the sky.

Beach SNUBA

Imagine the feeling of breathing underwater without even wearing a tank, where only a weight belt, regulator, and fins are the keys to a whole new world. Snuba is an activity for those who have snorkeled but have always been curious about diving, where the air tank rests on a raft at the surface—rather than strapped to your back. With a professional instructor and guide by your side, learn the basics of breathing underwater and a how to pop your ears, and while it’s always a bit of a strange feeling when you first learn to breathe underwater, within minutes you’re soaring above schools of fish and meeting them face to face.

Lana’i City

Home to the island’s 3,500 residents and the center of everyday life, Lanai City is a charming town with a rich plantation past. Take a stroll across Dole Park to the locally owned restaurants and shops, where it’s just as easy to order plate lunch or a bowl of ahi poke, as it is to shop for fine works of art or local gifts and crafts.

At the informative Lanai Culture and Heritage Center, experience a trove of ancient artifacts that were found right here on Lanai, and see black and white photos from days when the island was the world’s largest pineapple plantation.

While casually strolling around the town—which still doesn’t have any stoplights—notice the way that local people address each other with a wave, and feel the vibrant sense of community that floats on the pine scented air.

lanai city map