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Ho'olu komo la kaua ("please join us" )
2012 Warm Water Holiday Edition

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Lana'i holoholo
For the Fun of it!

small ice chest
small beach bag for the single day trip
thin beach towels (easy to dry)
hats if you wish to drive with the top down!
snacks and water bottles
add a nylon duffle or nylon back pack
if you wish to stay that extra night!

The Island of Lana’i (la-nah-ee) is without a doubt a worth while excursion from Maui. The Island of Lana’i is an island unto itself yet so close and easily accessible to Maui that it easily falls into the tantalizing category of what to do while staying on Maui. It definitely rates as a perfect day trip and even a nicer 2 day-1 night adventure.

Since it is tempting to be obnoxiously descriptive the decision to simply over flock this article with pictures has come to mind. It’s no secret that I’m a Photoshop nut. You will just have to trust that I did not zing the images with levels and zap them with the “fruit punch” found in hue/saturation. They truly are as they appear. A list of easy resources are to be found at the end of this article.

From Kaiholena Valley to the slopes of Lana’i Hale there’s something nostalgic about the barely inhabited island of Lana’i.If you allow yourself a wee-bit of that childish imagination you will be able to place yourself somewhere between the Cretaceous and Jurassic time periods (without the Dinos). Rough terrain ranging in rich desert hues of orange, burnt orange, red orange, purplish-red, deep red, gun metal gray, yellow, chocolate brown, black, white and green soils inspired ooohs, aaaws, pointing and shouts of STOP during our two day trek. Simply amazing! Deserted charm, rough off-road independent exploration, snorkeling with an abundance of fish and quiet stretches of uninhabited white sand beaches.

The adventure begins by taking the early Ferry from Lahaina (6:45 a.m.) into Manele Bay Harbor (7:30 a.m.) taking the shuttle into Lana’i City to pick-up our Jeep Rangler from Dollar Rent a Car and browse the adorable Lana’i City Service Market for extra snacks. We enjoyed the early drive through the pretty little town of Lanai City past Hotel Lanai and Historical Dole Park towards Keomoku Road. This road carries you to Route 1 on the Jeep Safari Map from Dollar. This wasan immediate success. It was every bit the eye candy we had hoped for on our journey to Shipwreck Beach.

While on our journey to connect with the trail to Shipwreck Beach, Kaiolohia, we found ourselves encountering one scenic delight after another: Cook Island Pines lining a stretch of gentle highway against Cornflower blue skies, roads cut into colorful decomposed granite snaking around to greet sweeping panoramas of the South Pacific and neighboring islands, horses grazing in open pasture with the slopes of Lana’i Hale in the distance.


Wild Turkeys and colorful pheasant are plentiful on the drive. The island is teaming with deer. Roads wind through canopies of small trees and slender coconut palms framing stretches of white sand beach. It’s important to remember that since the off-road trail hug the ocean and are practically on the beach that you must absolutely stay on the trail. Driving ON the beach is illegal and a $500.00 fine. The existing roads are very fulfilling.


Shipwreck Beach is worth a full morning or afternoon. It’s simple, but that’s the whole idea. We jumped out of our Jeep, quickly gathered a few snacks, towels and strolled off to explore. Beach toys were provided!

So many fun items had washed up on shore. We had a ball collecting the large coconuts in different stages of de-shelling and stacking them in pyramids. Huge black crabs wandered the enormous out cropping of black rocks and a “herd” of sea cucumbers lay scattered in the warm, clear shallow waters. Beachcombing was a blast with awesome views of Maui and Molokai! If that isn’t enough there’s a shipwreck rising outof the water in clear view. It’s an oil tanker from the ‘40’s still hooked on Kaiolohia Bay’s coral reef. Go figure! Shipwreck Beach!

Just 200 yards up a trail past the Shipwreck Beach sign you’ll find the Kukui Point Petroglyphs. The only other people we encountered on this part of our adventure were Hawaiians hunting along the reef, possibly for Tako (octopus).

We chose to head south to Route 5 which takes you on the dirt road skirting the ocean through Keomoku Village and to Lopa Beach. It’s a very interesting drive. We found pretty parts along the way with an abundance of coconut palms and countless coconuts scattered everywhere! The road is very dusty in areas and the beaches are remote. This drive deserves an entire afternoon. We were more pleased with Route 1 for a morning out. The second route comes to a dead end after driving quite a distance.

Conclusion: If you are enjoying only a single day out it would be well worth it to fill your gas tank, see Shipwreck Beach in the morning and head straight to Route 3 - Route 4 which goes to the Garden of the Gods. This is a long day out but a happy one if you take the early Ferry in and depart on the late Ferry that returns to Maui.

Hotel Lana’i was the perfect place to relax after a long day out. The pines fringing the quaint hotel gave it the atmosphere of staying at a mountain side resort. We enjoyed the cool ocean breeze. The grounds offer eye candy as does the entire town. The hotel and restaurant staff were extremely friendly, efficient and helpful. Our spacious room was clean, cleverly decorated and well appointed with a private bathroom and refrigerator. Dinner at the on-site restaurant Lana’i City Grill was absolutely delicious. Continental breakfast is included in your hotel stay and was fresh and delicious.


The following day we chose to circle the town before heading out to Garden of the Gods.Our day was picture perfect with innumerable discoveries to be made along the way.We’ll definitely be returning for an encore. Years ago we carried empty 35mm film containers to collect samples of the different colors of soil we encountered while traveling from place to place. This time I found myself emptying snack bags (eat up folks!) and juice boxes so that we could nab little scoops of colorful dirt during our spontaneous stops. Our 3 year old son discovered “dino eggs” scattered along an embankment on our second day journey to Garden of the Gods - Keahi a Kawelo. We built a nest, collected the “eggs” and carefully placed them in the nest to hatch later.

There were so many delightful little nuances on the way to Garden of the Gods. It’s really difficult to express perfection or capture in a photo. This route requires a happy, spontaneous and capable spouse or friend and a giggling child in the back seat. Truly wish that we would have taken more photos of the rocks! We were so busy crawling on top of them, enjoying the views, that we left the camera in the bag much of the time. Our Jeep and driver (my very capable husband!) did a fabulous job of perching us on dome shaped boulders for spectacular ocean views.

The real lolly pop is Polihua Beach at the end of the long, sloping dirt road. Views are breath taking the entire drive. It’s unbelievably desolate with peace and quiet finally being defined. When you reach the long, sweeping beach you’ll probably think of the scene from the Black Stallion where the horse is ripping through the sand at full speed. The ocean comes in from a number of unpredictable directions bringing in pretty little shells and other treasures. It’s rough and wild. We will be spending an entire day at Polihua Beach next time. When “they” post NO SWIMMING...”they” mean it! Do not swim here.

Lana’i is truly a worth while vacation in the midst of your vacation. So much of what I’ve written tends to weigh in on the long term Maui visitor however I do believe that Lanai is a perfect adventure to include in a 7 day Maui itinerary. The afternoon ferry from Lana’i to Lahaina has the quality of an afternoon Whale excursion in the Winter months. Bring your own snacks and drinks and prepare yourself for breaching Humpback Whales and the colorful sunset. It’s quite delightful!

Expeditions Ferry
(everything was as easy as it seemed!)
Maui (Lahaina) to Lana’i

Best departure from Lahaina: 6:45am
Best return on a single day: 6:45pm
Best return on a 2 day return in the Winter months: 4:30pm Whales!

ADULT: $30.00 each way
CHILD: $20.00 each way

Parking in Lahaina

Republic Parking
(very pleased!)
(click on locations)

165 Dickenson Street
Lahaina HI 96761
no attendent on duty.
good lighting.
good safety reputation
short walk to dock

24 hour rate: $12.00

Jeep Rental (again, EASY!)

Dollar Rent a Car Lana’i
Comfortable Shuttle service provided at the dock. The scenic drive into the small town of Lanai City to collect your Jeep costs $10.00 per person. It’s worth it. Shuttlecharge was added to our Jeep rental. Children are free. Returning to collect a second person shaves ample time off your day since you would need to retrace your drive into town to continue your adventure day. Pay the shuttle fee for everyone. Much easier.

Hotel Lana’i

We give it 5 STARS for charm, comfort, beautiful surroundings, experience, friendliness and for the delicious Lana’i City Grill
828 Lana’i Avenue
Lana’i City, Hawai’i 96763

Call them directly.

2012 Warm Water Holiday Edition Article 1 | Article 2 | Article 3