What are the best things to do on Lanai?

There isn’t a lot to do on Lanai — but that’s the whole point of visiting this island. Perhaps the biggest draw is the abundance of natural beauty here, from the sandy beaches to the inland forest. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to do on Lanai.
 
1. Visit Garden of the Gods. About a half-hour drive from Lanai City is Keahiakawelo, more commonly known as Garden of the Gods. It’s a strange, otherworldly rock garden on the island’s northwest side, with oddly placed volcanic boulders and windswept rocks in earthy tones of ocher, pick and brown that change with the sunlight. This landscape is best visited just after dawn or just before sunset.
 
2. Tour Kanepuu Preserve. This 590-acre dryland forest, located about 20 minutes northwest of Lanai City, is home to 48 species of native plants. The area, protected by the Nature Conservancy, boasts the largest remnants of olopua (native olive) and lama (native persmission) dryland forest in the state. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is required to reach this preserve, but from there, you can take a short tour through this rare ecosystem using maps made available at the forest entry.
 
3. Relax at Shipwreck Beach. It might be a little hard to find — it’s roughly 30 minutes from Lanai City along unmarked roads — but Kaiolohia, or Shipwreck Beach, is worth the effort. It’s a windy, 8-mile stretch of sand with numerous wrecked ships along its shallow, rocky channel. And just for effect, there’s a rusting World War II tanker just off this already spectacular beach that offers views of Molokai and Maui in the distance.
 
4. Sweetheart Island. Unique to Lanai is Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock. It’s located on the southern coast of Lanai, rising between Hulopoe and Manele bays. Legend tells the story a beautiful Maui girl kidnapped by a young warrior from Lanai, who loved her so much he hid her in a sea cave at the base of Manele’s cliffs. The girl drowned during a storm and the brokenhearted warrior threw himself from the cliff. It’s a short hike from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay to view this landmark. Sunsets here are especially romantic.
 
5. Surf at Lopa Beach. While Hulopoe Bay has better surf, first-timers should rent surfboards (or, even better, book lessons) from Lanai Surf School (808-565-9283) and hit the surf at the friendlier Lopa Beach. It’s a somewhat secluded area, and great for strolling, too.

  • On August 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best thing to bring home from Lanai?

    Lanai is an island that offers much in the way of seclusion and natural scenery, but little in the form of shopping or goods to bring home. Besides the obvious fresh pineapples (the island was once a major center of pineapple production), consider picking up something from the bakery of Blue Ginger Café in Lanai City. Everything here is baked fresh daily, including the hamburger buns and croissants used in the sandwiches sold in the café. The baked goods are best to take home. We suggest either blueberry or apple turnovers, cinnamon rolls or a bag of chocolate chip cookies.
  • On August 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Lanai food experiences?

    Lanai may be a small island, but it with its abundance of fresh seafood and local ingredients, it offers some great food experiences. Read on for Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for five of the best food experiences on Lanai.
     
    1. Fresh seafood. Many of the restaurants on the island — from the Lanai City Grille to The Challenge at the Manele Clubhouse — serve fresh-caught seafood prepared in a variety of ways, from grilled to sashimi style. Order the fresh catch whenever you see it on the menu.
     
    2. Poke. One of the most popular pupu — or appetizers— in Hawaii is poke, typically made with raw ahi or other seafood and seasoned with Hawaiian salt and seaweed. (There are many variations on ingredients and seasoning.) One place to try it on Lanai is the Lanai Ohana Poke Market, which serves some of the island’s best.
     
    3. Saimin. This noodle dish is a staple in Hawaii’s local food scene, and an off-shoot of the richer Japanese-style ramen. A holdover from Hawaii’s plantation era, this dish features curly egg noodles served in a salty broth garnished with green onions. Blue Ginger Café in Lanai City serves up a great bowl of saimin worth checking out.
     
    4. Loco moco. Created in Hilo and now a mainstay in local restaurants across the state, loco moco is a simple dish consisting of a hamburger patty atop white rice and covered with two eggs and brown gravy. Canoes Lanai Restaurant features its version of the popular local dish on its menu.
     
    5. Banana dipped in chocolate and macadamia nuts. The signature dessert at Sweetest Days is a local banana dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with macadamia nuts. It’s a great snack after a long day at the beach.
  • On August 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best nightlife on Lanai?

    You won’t find much nightlife on the sleep Hawaiian island of Lanai—no more than a handful of places stay open past 9 p.m. That said, there are a few spots on the island where you can get a drink and listen to live music. The Bar, located in the lobby of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, stays open until 11 p.m. with a light menu that features creative cocktails and a wide selection of drinks. It seats about two dozen people, with live entertainment in the nearby Great Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. nightly. The Hale Ahe Ahe Lounge at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is an open-air sports bar with sweeping ocean views, pool tables, live entertainment from 7 to 9 p.m., and 46-inch LCD televisions playing sports programs. Though only open until 9 p.m., the Lanai City Grille offers a fully stocked bar and a nice wine selection. On Fridays, the restaurant hosts “Friday Under the Stars,” with after-work snacks and live music in its outdoor dining area. Pele’s Other Garden has happy hour every day from 4:30 to 8 p.m., with a bar menu featuring japaneo poppers, beer-battered fries and coconut shrimp, and a good selection of beers, wines and cocktails.
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  • On August 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Lanai in one day?

    Lanai is a compact and quiet Hawaiian island, so seeing the best the island has to offer in one day is easy to accomplish—that is, once you’ve rented a 4-wheel drive vehicle, which will give you access to the rugged island’s best sights and beaches. Begin by grabbing a cup of coffee at Lanai Coffee located a block off Dole Park in Lanai City. In addition to a solid cup of coffee, this Northern California-style café serves blended espresso shakes, gourmet ice cream, bagels and lox, and more.
     
    Next, head to the picturesque Hulopoe Bay on Lanai’s south coast. A protected area, the bay offers some of the best snorkeling on the island. On the eastern side of the bay are large tide pools, great for exploring small marine ecosystems. Take the short hike to Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock, rising between Hulopoe and Manele bays. Locals tell the story of a beautiful Maui girl kidnapped by a young warrior from Lanai, who loved her so much he hid her in a sea cave at the base of Manele’s cliffs. The girl drowned during a storm and the brokenhearted warrior threw himself from the cliff.
     
    Head back to Lanai City for some shopping and dining in and around Dole Park, the city’s main square. Visit the small shops, boutiques and art galleries — particularly the Lanai Art Center and Galley— for a few hours. Then sample some truly local fare — like loco moco or chicken katsu —  at 565 Café.
     
    Book a two-hour horseback tour at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, then a Hawaiian lomi lomi massage at the resort’s Banyon Suite Spa. Then head to the resort’s celebrated restaurant, The Dining Room, which offers American cuisine prepared European-style with rustic Hawaiian ingredients. It also offers a seasonal five-course tasting menu worth trying. Before 9 p.m., hit the Hale Ahe Ahe Lounge, an open-air sports bar in the hotel, for a quick game of pool before capping the night with a specialty cocktail from The Bar, which closes at 11 p.m.
  • On August 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best shopping on Lanai?

    There are no shopping centers or strip malls on laidback Lanai, meaning shopping is not a focal point. But there are a few unique shops worth visiting on the Hawaiian island. While the resorts feature high-end boutiques, Dole Park in Lanai City is the place where the locals shop. Lanai Beach Walk offers swimwear, resort clothing, souvenirs, jewelry and other knickknacks. Dis ‘N Dat is a tiny shop in Lanai City filled with thousands of eclectic gifts, home décor, antiques and jewelry that’s worth just browsing. Mike Carroll Gallery has been called a “jewel of the Islands,” featuring the works of Carroll and 30 other artists, many of whom are fellow award-winners from juried painting festivals. Get your groceries, sunscreen, snacks and other vacation essentials at either Pine Isle Market or Richard’s, two all-purpose markets on the island.
  • On August 24, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay on Lanai?

    There are only three places to stay on Lanai, but two of them world-class resorts. Here, according to Forbes Travel Guide’s editors, is what makes each of them worth a stay on Lanai.
     
    1. Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay. Overlooking Hulopoe Bay, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is an ocean-side oasis bordering a marine preserve teeming with marine life and large tide pools perfect for exploring. The resort has East Asian-inspired guest rooms and suites, a state-of-the-art fitness center with ocean views and two world-ranked golf courses.
     
    2. Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele. The rustic — and very romantic — Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele is a grand country estate in the highlands edging Lanai City. It’s luxurious, quiet and surrounded by old pines and lush gardens. The resort features afternoon tea served in the high-beamed ceilings of the Great Hall, a fragrant orchid greenhouse, two world-ranked golf courses, and the kind of impeccable service you’d expect t a Four Seasons property.
     
    3. Hotel Lanai. Built in 1923, Hotel Lanai was once the only place you could stay on Lanai. It has 11 charming, South Pacific-style guest rooms adorned with country quilts and bamboo shades. Its in-house restaurant, Lanai City Grille, boasts a menu designed by celebrated chef Bev Gannon and features locally caught seafood, prime meats and its signature rotisserie chicken.