How to enjoy a mini-vacation on the mini island of Lana’i, Part 1

If you’ve ever been on Maui, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve seen the island of Lanai off in the near distance (like the photo above). Chances are you’ve wondered what it’s like over there…are we right?

Taking a day or overnight trip to the island of Lanai is a worthwhile adventure.

For one thing, if you’re visiting Maui to escape the hustle and bustle of your life back home, then a going to Lanai is like taking a break from the hustle and bustle of life on Maui — imagine that!

A little bit about the island of Lana’i

Lana’i is the comma-shaped island

Lana’i is Hawaii’s sixth largest island, roughly the shape of a comma, with a population of about 3,100, one gas station and not a single stoplight.

It used to be known as “The Pineapple Island,” but was recently renamed “The Private Isle” — because of its attraction to the rich and famous as a place to seek ultimate privacy (for example — Lanai has hundreds of miles of bare beach).

There is one major curious fact about Lana’i you need to know: it is 98% “owned” by Oracle founder and billionaire Larry Ellison, who bought it from Dole company chairman and fellow billionaire David Murdock in 2012 for an estimated $300 million.

Ellison’s vision for Lana’i is to create the “first economically viable, 100 percent green community.” So far, he appears to be on track. He’s invested in lodging and infrastructure, including some ambitious plans to produce and export super nutritious agriculture.

How to get to Lana’i

View from the ferry on the way to Lana’i

There are a couple of (obvious) ways to get to Lana’i: you can fly or take a boat.

The Expeditions Maui–Lanaʻi Ferry is your best bet if you’re looking for a quick, affordable and easy way to hop over. The one hour sail in the ʻAuʻau Channel offers pleasant views of Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe and — on super clear days — the Big Island.

Humpback whales can be seen in the winter months, too. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for children each way and the ship departs from the Lahaina public loading dock to Manele five times a day.

If sea travel isn’t your thing, you can fly from Maui to Lanai via a stopover and plane change in Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. Be prepared to pay more than double the ferry rate, though.

Where to stay on Lana’i

The Four Seasons Lanai, located at Manele Bay

Because of Ellison’s influence in Lana’i has such an opulent atmosphere, you’ll find not one but two Four Seasons resorts to stay in. Both have undergone massive remodels. One is on the coast — the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, and the other is upcountry in the first — The Lodge at Koele. Both are spectacular, so take your pick or break up your mini trip between both.

Island-inspired accommodations await you at Hotel Lanai

For more modest but equally-charming-in-its-own-right accommodations, try the Hotel Lana’i in Lana’i City. This lovely 11-room plantation-style inn is nestled among the towering regal Cook Pines that Lanai is famous for.

Hotel Lana’i opened 90 years ago and has managed to preserve its original island-style charm and simplicity with the comforts of modern life.

Where to eat

Saimin (Hawaiian-style ramen) at the Blue Lotus Cafe

If you’re into eating, Lanai has enough great eateries to make most people happy. Get your grinds (that’s local Hawaiian slang for food), check out the Blue Ginger Cafe, Lana’i City Bar and Grille (in Hotel Lanai), and Pele’s Other Garden all in Lana’i City.

Coming up in the next post: things to do when you’re visiting Lana’i.

Image credits: 23878201@N08ann_starkcongaree59765593@N00caroundtheworld, wikimedia, TripAdvisorkathyylchan

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui (chat with our in-house Concierge at extension 71).

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.