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This is the ultimate guide to Lanai, Hawaii in 2020.
And let's do this the right way:
This is NOT your average “Top 10 things..." list.
Yes, we’ll cover the most-visited favorites. But you’re also going to find hidden experiences that our clients remember for decades. So if you’re looking to explore Lanai, you’ll love this new guide.
Lanai vacations offer a private island experience, petite and pristine. Untouched, unspoiled, and uncrowded, this island is still Hawaiian in every sense of the word. Until recently, the tiny island of Lanai was covered by a silvery-green blanket of pineapple plantations, but now is home to two resorts blossoming into world-class status.
In Lanai City, the climate is mild and dry, with temperatures averaging 73 degrees in the summer and 66 degrees in the winter and rainfall averaging less than 40" per year. Along the coast, the temperatures are much the same but rainfall averages only 15" per year.
Lanai was first sighted by westerners on February 25th, 1779, from the deck of the HMS resolution. The island was purchased in 1922 by the president of Dole Food Company and turned into the world's largest pineapple plantation. Today Lanai is sparsely populated but is home to two world-class golf courses and two world-class resorts. It is often called, "Hawaii's most exclusive island."
Based on Maui, this rafting company makes daily excursions to the coast of Lanai. Sightings of dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles and whales in season are just part of what you can experience.
How do you get from Maui to Lanai and back again? The only company licensed to ferry visitors between these islands makes 4 round trips daily so you can enjoy the scenery and two world-class golf courses as often as you like.
These catamarans actually land on the island to allow visitors access to beaches, play volleyball, sunbathe and enjoy prime snorkeling experiences. A related van tour is available to take to you the old plantation town of Lanai City at the top of the island.
On the south coast you can swim in graceful Hulopoe Bay off a glittering white sandy beach. During most of the year dolphins come and play in this bay. Recreation opportunity abounds in this area. Enjoy golf, tennis, hiking and beautiful beaches. Located here is the world class resort Four Seasons Manele Bay.
Set atop the secluded island there is a magnificent hotel called The Lodge at Koele. Cool evenings are embraced with charming accommodations and fine dining. Golf, tennis, horseback riding and exploring await you. Thirty minutes free shuttle ride to Manele Bay.
The Manele Bay Hotel is located on a bluff overlooking beautiful Hulopo'e Bay and its beach and tidepools, which are protected as part of the Hulopo'o-Manele Marine Life Conservation Area.
Unique coral formations buffer the gorgeous white sand beach for very safe swimming, snorkeling, and diving conditions (but remember there are no lifeguards around). Lava rock formations create multiple tide pools along the south shore of the bay, full of colorful and sometimes bizarre-looking sealife.
Enjoy exploring these mini valleys but do so carefully (with good shoes for slippery rocks, at low tide, and always facing the waves) and make sure not to take anything home from the nature preserve.
Occasionally you can catch spinner dolphins playing in this bay, or see Humpback whales on their way down from Alaska in the winter.
There are restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grills, and a phone and camping is allowed with a permit.
Drive south from Lanai city on Hwy. 440 about 13 miles and follow the signs to Hulopo'e Beach Park.
Shipwreck Beach is aptly named for the many ships that have run aground on the coral reef in the Kalohi channel that separates the islands of Lanai and Molokai. The 8-mile long beach of sand, lava rock, and boulders sits on Lanai's northeastern shore with Molokai in the distance and the huge concrete World War II ship, Liberty, still stuck on the reef relatively close to the sand. The rusty vessel has withstood over 50 years of strong currents and waves that continue to carry bits of it ashore.
The beach's wide reef somewhat protects the coast but consistently strong tradewinds and currents make the churning waters unsafe for swimming and there are no lifeguards around.
Beachcombers love what they can find along the beach, and whale watchers enjoy occasional sightings in the winter when Pacific humpbacks come by from Alaska.
The Kaiolohia-Kahue hiking trail starts (or ends, depending on how you look at it) at this beach but there are no facilities nearby.
This beach is only accessible by a 4-wheel drive vehicle so be sure to check on road conditions before starting out. Go northeast on Hwy. 44 until it ends (about 7 miles from Lanai City), turn left on the dirt road to a parking area about a mile and a half down, near the lighthouse ruins.
Description: Carved from lava cliffs 150 feet above the crashing surf, the Challenge at
Manele is a Jack Nicklaus masterpiece. Public. 18-Holes. Par 72; 7,039
yards. Because of the hillside construction, there are numerous changes in
elevation throughout the course. There are five separate tee boxes per
"GOLF Magazine" selected this course 37th on its 1998 list of the "Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S." This facility, which was named to "GOLF Magazine's" 1998 list of "Gold Medal Resorts," features an outstanding target-style course that is located along the rugged coast of Lanai.
The design is very unique because it was built on several hundred acres of natural lava outcroppings, and among Kiawe and wild Llima trees. It is one of the most beautiful courses on the islands and very challenging. Playing here will provide you with a wonderful memory of the some of the best golf available in the world.
Description: This resort was named to "GOLF Magazine's" 1998 list of "Silver Medal
Resorts." As a mountain-side course, it is both hilly and beautiful. The
vistas from the front nine are memorable.
The course is quite long for the amateur and its greens are fast and difficult to get on in regulation. Water hazards are common and the par 4 17th hole calls for a challenging approach shot to an island green.
The signature hole is #8, a 444-yard, par 4, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and a 250-foot drop in elevation from the tee box to the fairway.
At 1800 feet in elevation, Experience at Koele is not similar to the other island courses and the weather experience can include fog and rain.
Description: Until the 1990s, Cavendish Golf Course - a 9-hole executive course - was
the only course on the tiny island of Lanai, serving the small community of
plantation workers as a major recreational facility. Built in 1947, the
course was named after its designer and operated by Dole.
The course is flat with long fairways set amid tall rows of Norfolk pines. Like many Hawaii golf courses, the trade winds provide an added challenge to golfers, especially those accustomed to playing on less windy Mainland courses. The winds can easily top 25 knots and can make your iron shots curve dramatically.
Because the course is not well known by visiting tourists, there are usually very few players. Uniquely, Cavendish relies on the honor system for collecting green fees.