One of the great things about visiting Maui is it’s proximity to Lanai. After a quick 45-minute ferry ride, you can find yourself landing on a different island. Is Lanai worth a trip, even though it is so easy to reach?

If you are staying on Maui, Lanai is worth a day trip (or more) as long as you have planned a long enough vacation to Maui. If you’re trying to squeeze in all Maui has to offer in five days, a day trip to Lanai won’t be worth it because there is plenty to see on Maui. But if you have a week or more on Maui, a day trip to Lanai is absolutely worth the journey. 

Want to know more about taking a perfect day trip? We’ve got you covered. 

 

Is Lanai Worth Visiting?

Without a doubt, Lanai is worth visiting. It appeals to a number of people: from those seeking luxury to people who are looking to explore the pristine reef. There is something for everyone on the island. 

 

Where Exactly is Lanai?

Lanai, the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii, is located just nine miles from the west side of Maui. In fact, you can see it from most of the west and south side of the island. It’s one of three populated islands that make up the County of Maui: Lanai, Molokai, and Maui. 

 

What Can You do on Lanai?

As a kid on a family trip, I thought Lanai was a little too quiet — that there was nothing to do on the island. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Lanai is a hidden gem with something that will excite everyone:

  • Boating: take to the sea on a sunset cruise, a fishing trip, or a snorkeling adventure
  • Snorkeling and diving: enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery at Hulopoʻe and Kaunolu Bays
  • Garden of the Gods: take in the unique scenery at Garden of the Gods, just a 45-minute drive from Lanai city
  • Shipwreck Beach: take a 4×4 to the secluded shipwreck beach (but swimming here is not advised!)
  • Shooting and archery: hone your outdoor skills with shooting and archery
  • Horseback riding
  • Helicopter tours: view the island from above on a helicopter tour
  • Fine dining: treat yourself to amazing meals at either of the Four Seasons resorts

 

Lahaina to Lanai Day Trip

If you’re in Lahaina (or nearby) there are two ways to get to Lanai for your day trip: on the ferry or as part of a snorkeling trip. 

  • A Day Snorkel Trip to Lanai: A number of different sailing companies offer full-day snorkel trips to Lana. These trips are more expensive than a DIY trip on the ferry, but everything is planned and included. The upside of this option is that you get to sail the waters off Lanai and snorkel. The downside is that you’ll have limited time on the island, which is generally going to be spent at the beach or on a short hike. 
  • Ferry to Lanai: If you’d like a little more freedom and time to explore the island, hopping aboard a 45-minute ferry ride might be your best choice. The ferry leaves from Lahaina and makes multiple trips daily. Once off the ferry, you’ll have time to explore and do everything you want to do on Lanai. 

 

How Many Days do You Need in Lanai?

How many days you need on Lanai completely depends on the experience you want to have. You can squeeze in a quick day trip to snorkel and enjoy the beach. 

Or, you can enjoy a longer stay on this quiet island. If you’re interested in snorkeling, exploring the island in a 4×4, sailing, horseback riding, and hiking, plan to spend at least five days on the island to give yourself enough time. Lanai is small and most of it is inaccessible, but there is so much to do you could easily fill up a full week vacation on the island. 

 

How Do You Get to Lanai?

If you’re on the mainland and want to get to Lanai, the journey is going to take a while. There are no direct flights from the mainland to Lanai. To get to Lanai, you have three options:

  • Fly: From Honolulu airport on Oahu or Kahului airport on Maui you can catch a short flight to Lanai. Airlines that fly to Lanai include Hawaiian Airlines, Lanai Air, and Southern Airways Express. If you’re staying at Sensei Lanai by Four Seasons airfare is included in your reservation. 
  • Ferry: From Lahaina, you can catch an Expeditions Lanai Ferry, which makes the 45-minute journey multiple times per day. 
  • Sail: If you’re looking for an all-inclusive for your trip to Lanai, sailing companies offer full-day trips to the island. 

 

How Do You Get Around Lanai?

Lanai is small — there is no Uber or public transportation. If you want to explore the island, the best way to do that is with a rental car. 

If you’re staying at one of the Four Seasons resorts, they’ll have cars available that will shuttle you to various destinations on the island. There are also island tours that will show you all of the main points of interest. 

And, you can always take a taxi, though they can be quite expensive. 

You won’t need a rental car for the entire trip — just on the days you want to get out and explore. Rent a 4×4 so you can make the most of driving around the island. 

 

Can You Stay on Lanai?

You’ll find excellent accommodation options on Lanai, from luxury hotels to vacation rentals. There are three hotels on Lanai: 

  • Hotel Lanai: a small boutique hotel with 11 rooms, and has recently undergone a renovation. Located in Lanai City, this is the least expensive hotel on the island though it’s not a budget or rustic accommodation by any means. 
  • Four Seasons Lanai: The only hotel located steps from the beach in Lanai, the Four Seasons offers luxury accommodations on Hulopoe Bay, a marine preserve. 
  • Sensei Lanai: Another offering from the Four Seasons is the Sensei Lanai, focused on wellbeing. You can get a guided stay which gives you spa access, a wellness counselor, and the opportunity to have a nutrition consultation.

If these aren’t the right options for your stay, there are a number of vacation rentals to choose from. 

Have a wonderful day trip to Lanai because you can make it worth it! 

 

Erica Gellerman

Erica Gellerman

Author

I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. You will most likely find me on the water on a SUP or swimming in the waves.

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