Imagine adjusting the rubber strap on the back of your child’s mask as you sit by the edge of a protected tide pool that teems with colorful fish or playing in the grass of a large central park, venturing over to the playground equipment or kicking around a ball, before settling in for a night at the movies at an historic community theater.
While the island itself might not be very big, there are a number of family activities on Lānaʻi that children of all ages can enjoy. At Hulopo‘e Beach Park in front of the Four Seasons, teach your kids how to breathe through a snorkel in the calm, protected tide pools before venturing out to the “bigger pool” in search of fish on the reef. Older children can boogie board the shore break or simply splash in the waves, while parents look out for spinner dolphins or prepare a picnic in the shade. For a family portrait that could be your next Christmas card, enjoy the easy, 10-minute hike to Pu‘u Pehe overlook, where the iconic volcanic rock formation rises up from the ocean below you.
In Lānaʻi City, where simple, colorful, plantation-style stores ring the edge of grassy Dole Park, families can lounge beneath the Cook Island pines or laugh on the playground before perusing the shops for Lānaʻi-themed clothing or gifts. To learn a little something on vacation, and teach the kids some culture, walk to the Lānaʻi Culture and Heritage Center to explore the maps, exhibits, and displays of the island’s plantation past. When the sun sinks low over the Palawai Basin, grab some tickets to catch a show at historic Hale Keaka—the Lānaʻi Theater built-in 1926 that’s still showing movies today.
For a quirky and cuddly family activity, spend some time at the Lānaʻi Cat Sanctuary helping care for hundreds of cats, whether it’s feeding, grooming, or simply petting the rescued “Hawaiian Lions.” For a more traditional family adventure—particularly with older children—rent a 4×4 Jeep for the day and explore the island’s east shore, searching for petroglyphs hidden in the forest and hiking to Shipwreck Beach. At the abandoned ghost town of Keomoku Village, stop to photograph the hauntingly beautiful Ka Lanakila Church, or using an iPhone or Android phone, download the informative app, “Lanai Guide,” to scour the village for historical sites that are hidden back in the trees. Drive the Jeep to Kahalepalaoa and walk down the white sand beach, where you’ll likely have the palm groves and shoreline completely all to yourself.
With all of these family activities on Lānaʻi, it’s easy to see why a day trip from Maui is such a popular option for visitors, or a three-day getaway from Honolulu to relax, untether and bond. There’s a wholesome simplicity here on Lānaʻi beneath the Cook Island pines, and a small town, tight-knit, community feel where families are always welcome.