Places on Lanai

You would think that an island with only one town would be short on places to see. The reality, however, is there are so many places to see on Lanai it’s an outdoor explorer’s paradise, and an island that warrants more exploration than a day trip or weekend jaunt.

One of the most popular places to visit on Lanai is spectacular Hulopoʻe Beach, which was named the #1 beach in America in 1997. The snorkeling here is the best on Lanai, and it’s common to find spinner dolphin splashing and resting in the sandy portion of the bay. Stretch your legs on a coastal walk to Puʻu Pehe Overlook, where in addition to views of neighboring Maui, you look straight out to the volcanic sea stack best known as “Sweetheart Rock.” Or, to walk in the footsteps of ancient fishermen, the Kapihaʻa Fisherman’s Trail departs from the right side of the bay, and hugs the rocky, salt-flecked shore with views looking back towards the beach.

While Hulopoʻe is accessible by paved road, the same can’t be said for many of the other places to visit on Lanai. The island is a twisting network of dirt roads and sandy coastal tracks, though it’s easy to hire a 4×4 vehicle to make the island your playground. Rattle your way out to Keahiakawelo, also known as “Garden of the Gods,” and marvel at the clusters of red-hued boulders that seem to have fallen from the sky. Continue the journey down towards the coast and white sand Polihua Beach, where aside from the turtles that haul out on shore you should have the place all to yourself.

On the “backside” of the island, facing West Maui, Shipwreck Beach is another popular place to see on Lanai. Here you’ll find a Liberty Ship that was scuttled on the reef towards the end of World War II, and still hauntingly hovers just off a coast that’s covered in flotsam and driftwood. Point the Jeep south from Shipwreck Beach and the road becomes rugged and wild, eventually passing through Keomoku Village that sits abandoned and forgotten. Explore the ruins of Maunalei Sugar Mill and historic Ka Lanakila Church, and stroll the creaky wooden dock on the beach at Kahaleapalaoa. If you’re good on gas, food, and time, drive 15 more minutes to Lopa Beach for an isolated, white sand cove, where locals gather to surf and fish along the south facing coast.

Add in the heiau and heritage complex across the island at Kaunolu, or the mist-shrouded forests of Lanaihale and muddy Munro Trail, and there are enough places to see on Lanai to warrant a week of exploring—each day experiencing a new adventure on this pine tree covered red earth.