How to enjoy a mini-vacation on the mini island of Lana’i, Part 2

Welcome back to The Private Isle! You’re reading Part Two of our mini-series on visiting Lana’i. You can read Part One here — it covers some basic facts about Lana’i, how to get there and where to stay and eat. This post covers what to do.

Notable beaches on Lana’i

If you’re into relaxing, eating and enjoying the sunshine and scenery, Lana’i has you covered (actually all of Hawaii for that matter!).

Hulopoe Beach

One of Lana’i’s most beautiful beaches for relaxing is Hulopoe Beach — a former title holder of Best Beach in America (1997).

The idyllic, protected bay with gold sand and turquoise water can be found at Manele Bay fronting the Four Seasons (don’t worry, like all coastline in Hawaii — Hulopoe is open to the public). Enjoy excellent snorkeling and swimming, as well as a well-kept beach park with picnic tables, BBQ grills, shower and restrooms.

From Hulopoe, you can hike along the cliffs to Sweetheart Rock (Pu’u Pehe): the breathtaking site holds a legend about a warrior who took his life by jumping off the 80-foot cliff into the sea from the heartbreak of the death of his wife.

Halepalaoa Beach

Another beach worth checking out is Halepalaoa Beach, or “Whale house”. It’s not easy to get to — you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle — but it’s worth the drive.

There’s an old wharf ruin there leftover from the era of the Maunalei Sugar Plantation. It’s secluded and usually empty — perhaps just what you’re looking for. And, as the name suggests, Halepalaoa is great for whale watching in the winter months.

Shipwreck Beach

Aside from Sweetheart Rock, you can also visit Shipwreck Beach — aka Kaiolohia — an eight mile long beach on Lana’i’s north shore. It’s not just a catchy name — there’s are real shipwrecks here, at least a dozen.

The most visible wreck is an oil tanker from the 1940s, which juts out from the coral reef in dramatic shipwreck fashion. From here are excellent views of Molokai and Maui, great beachcombing (swimming not advised), and the Kukui Point petroglyphs about 200 years up the trail marked by the reddish-brown boulders.

Notable sights on Lana’i

Garden of the Gods

Just seven miles up the road from Lanai City is “Keahiakawelo,” aka Garden of the Gods. This lunar-like landscape contains peculiar rock tower and boulder formations…and their shadows (dawn or dusk viewing is ideal).

Hawaiian legend says two kahuna (priests) from Lanai and Molokai had a contest to see who could keep a fire burning the longest. The Lanai priest used every piece of vegetation in Keahiakawelo to keep the fire burning, thus its dry windswept barrenness.

Munro Trail

If you ever want to see six Hawaiian islands at once, hike the 7-mile Munro Trail on a super clear day.

The trek starts the Lanai Cemetery behind the Lodge at Koele and delivers you through towering Cook pines (introduced by New Zealand naturalist George Munro in 1890), as well as ohia lehua, eucalyptus and other rain forest delights.

The trail ends at the highest point on Lana’i, Lanaihale, at 3,366 feet. Even if it’s not clear, you should still consider the adventure.

Other fun stuff to do on Lanai

Golf, of course: there are two golf courses on island, the exquisite 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Manele Golf Course at the Four Seasons in Manele, and the 9-hole Cavendish Public Golf Course in Lanai City.

Some surfing: there is limited surfing on Lana’i, but that doesn’t mean you won’t catch waves. Try Hulopoe, Lopa and Stone Shack.

Hunting: mouflon sheep and axis deer, guided or unguided.

Getting around on Lanai

It’s important to note that pretty much all of the places mentioned in this post require a four-wheel drive vehicle to access.

You can rent these (as well as regular cars) from Dollar Rent a Car Lanai, which is a shuttle ride from the ferry dock.

Image credits: 63948446@N04inter-island_helicopters23878201@N08128659838@N04govisithawaii.com59935123@N03135361730@N07schnik135634211@N05

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.