"Dolphin!" The cry is heard frequently on Lānaʻi, from its shoreline, boats, kayaks, cars, bicycles and hotel rooms. Like their mammal cousins the koholā (humpback whales), the naiʻa (spinner dolphins) love the warm waters of Lānaʻi and consider them their personal playground. And what a playground it is: the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Hawaiʻi, miles of deserted coastline, reefs full of fish and landmarks rich with legend.
Lānaʻi's 89,600 acres of countryside invite hiking, mountain biking and sightseeing. From its highest point you can see up to five neighbor islands across the channels and steep gorges below. Fishing, sailing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and world-class golf in mountain and oceanfront settings – these are the adventures that await you on Hawaiʻi's most enticing island.
By land, sea, and everything in between, Lānaʻi strikes the perfect balance of wildness and accessibility. It is rugged but approachable, isolated but generously comfortable. Since 1990, when the island's first luxury hotel opened in the hills of Kōʻele, the curtains have been parted on the island's hidden wonders. With only 30 miles of paved road on Lānaʻi's 141 square miles, its life off the beaten track brims with rich rewards.
The two luxury hotels, the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi, The Lodge at Kōʻele and the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi at Mānele Bay, and the 11-room Hotel Lānaʻi are ideal base camps for exploring the far-flung corners of the island. A four-wheel-drive vehicle, rented from Lānaʻi City Service or an activity operator, and a map, available from the hotels, are the basics for a self-guided excursion. Although hikers need no more than a sturdy pair of hiking shoes and a well honed mental compass, there are several operations that offer the full range of Lānaʻi based activities and authentic island experiences.
Snorkeling, Scuba, Sailing and Charter Tours
Scuba divers the world over know that Cathedrals is one of the premier dive spots in the world. And it's in Lānaʻi waters, just off the southern shore where underwater caverns and clear waters are a scuba diver's delight. Skin Diver magazine has rated Lānaʻi one of the top 10 snorkel and scuba sites in the world.
Lānaʻi's ocean activities companies have experienced skippers and dive instructors who can spot a dolphin from a distance, identify rare tropical fish in the waters of Kaunolū, and coax an octopus off its rock so you can see it up close. They will teach you to snorkel and lead you on ocean rafting expeditions. Departing from the south shore, Trilogy Excursions operates the full range of watercraft: Zodiacs, and custom-made sailing catamarans 54-, 55- and 64-feet long. The catamarans come with all the amenities and equipment for snorkel, sail and scuba tours to Cathedrals and other sites. Lava tubes, sea cliffs 1,000 feet high, and staggering underwater lava tubes are among the adventurer's rewards. Trilogy's Adventure Center shop outfits beach-goers and divers with appropriate gear for endless fun in the sun.
With plentiful reefs and 47 miles of shoreline, fishing is a major part of the Lānaʻi lifestyle and a source of recreation. Lānaʻi residents are expert fishermen. A morning or afternoon expedition on the 36-foot Twin-Vee Fish-N-Tips – successor to its well known predecessor the Fish-N-Chips – will test your angling skills against giant fish and leave you with a magnificent Hawaiian sunset. They provide gear, bait, tackle and soft drinks, and take you sport fishing, light tackle fishing, or bottom fishing in Lānaʻi waters. Anglers aim for ono (wahoo), mahi mahi, and marlin, and, where the seabirds are circling and diving, schools of aku (skipjack tuna) and ʻahi (yellowfin tuna).
A fishing village dating back to 900 A.D., the marine preserve called Hulopoʻe Bay is the center of Lānaʻi's beach activities. The wide, white-sand crescent, lined at each end with dramatic lava outcroppings, invites swimming, snorkeling and tide pool exploration. As habitués love the beach, so do the schools of spinner dolphins that leap and dive in the bay. From November through early May they are joined by their gregarious relatives, the leaping, breaching humpback whales. At Hulopoʻe there are barbecue grills, restrooms, picnic tables, camping facilities—and showers with water warmed by the sun.
Located around the corner from Hulopoʻe, Mānele Bay is also a marine preserve with the only public boat harbor on the island. All south shore ocean tours originate at Mānele Harbor: fishing boats, yachts, the Expeditions ferry, whale watching, snorkel sails, scuba diving and ocean rafting.
The Munro Trail is one of Lānaʻi's terrestrial highlights, a trail for advanced hikers that traverses the 3,370-foot Lānaʻihale. The trail is a challenge, continuing for 16 miles roundtrip and accessible by foot, bicycle and 4-wheel drive. Astounding views unfold of steep gulches below and at least three, and sometimes five, of the neighboring islands: Maui, Molokaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Hawaiʻi and Oʻahu. Named after George Munro, a botanist and ranch manager from New Zealand, the trail is lined with sky-high Cook pines and eucalyptus stands that flourish among native plants. Munro planted the trees in the 1930s as part of a reforestation effort, to draw moisture from the clouds and create a watershed. Today Munro Trail is the greenest part of Lānaʻi, winding above Kōʻele through mountain grasslands and forests of bamboo and koa where ancient taro terraces lie hidden.
Hiking along the northern and eastern shoreline is a beachcomber's paradise. You can walk the wild, windswept strand for miles and look for abandoned boats and the wreckage of the World War II ship that gave the beach its nickname: Shipwreck. It is actually Kaiolohia, meaning "tranquil sea." The wild, windswept coastline stretches for miles along the Kalohi Channel between Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi. Eight miles north is the beach called Polihua, favored by nesting turtles. Near the island's easternmost point, an old wooden church recalls the days when Keōmoku was a sugar settlement and, years later, the headquarters for a sheep and cattle ranch. Along the shoreline, turtles frequent the inshore reefs, and monk seal like the beach for napping.
The 6.5-mile downhill slope from Kōʻele to Kaiolohia is paradise for mountain bikers. Or, rent a bicycle for a leisurely ride around Lānaʻi City's Dole Park – its small, shady and charming, with a restaurant or shop every few feet.
You don't have to choose between the mountains and the seashore. Savvy golfers often choose both. The Experience at Kōʻele is a spectacular 18-hole championship course spread high over a plateau and the rolling hills of central Lānaʻi. Designed by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson, the 7,014-yard, par-72 course is set nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, with views of Maui and Molokaʻi directly across the channel.
At sea level, the Challenge at Mānele is built on hundreds of acres of lava fields and dry, desert-like terrain that present their ultimate challenge at the ocean: three holes built on the bluffs above Hulopoʻe Bay, where the Pacific Ocean is the world's largest water hazard. The 7,039-yard, par-72 course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and features panoramic ocean views from all 18 holes.
Directly across from the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi, The Lodge at Kōʻele at the 1,700-foot elevation, the Stables at Kōʻele are the equestrian center of the island, offering an alternative way to explore the wooded valleys and trails of the extraordinary upland terrain. Ride along open pasturelands to a plateau in the Mahana area, or in the central ridgelines of Lānaʻi along a section of the Munro Trail. Maui and Molokaʻi scroll into view across the ʻAuʻau Channel. Those new to riding can take lessons from expert instructors.
Lānaʻi Pine Sporting Clays and Archery Range
One of the fastest growing sports in the country has found its perfect setting: the northwestern hills of Lānaʻi, two miles from the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi, The Lodge at Kōʻele. The 15-acre Lānaʻi Pine Sporting Clays and Archery Range offers multiple target shooting disciplines with a bonus: views of Maui and Molokaʻi across the channel. Masterful instruction and top-quality equipment are presented for shooters of all levels, whether they choose wobble trap, skeet, compact sporting, air rifle or sporting clays. The 14-station sporting clay course meanders through old ironwood forests and groves of Australian eucalyptus trees, presenting challenges of varying terrains and targets. The clay targets, mimicking traditional game such as flushed pheasants and rabbits, are launched in random patterns. Certified instructors are available for all levels of skill.
For a soundless kind of target practice, aim for the pineapple bull's eye in the adjacent archery range. Instructors teach all ages and levels on first-rate equipment: 15-pound bows for children and 20- and 25-pound bows for adults, for both right- and left-handed archers. Even beginners discover that the bull's eye – 5, 10, 15, and 20 yards away – is not so far after all.
Lana'i Visitors Bureau Press Release