The smallest inhabited island, Lanai is known as “Hawaii’s Most Enticing Island.” Even native Hawaiians did not inhabit this island until the 1500s. With no traffic lights and only 30 miles of paved roads, Lanai is off the beaten path, but it’s a great place to take it easy and relax.

Hulopoe Beach is one of the Lanai’s main attractions.  This sunny, sandy stretch along Manele Bay is the perfect place to sunbathe, swim, snorkel, or watch for spinner dolphins and whales. Walk along its tide pools and check out the marine animals that live there.  Just a 20-minute hike from Hulopoe Beach, you can see the famous Sweetheart Rock (Pu’u Pehe). Legends say that when a young warrior named Makakehau learned of his beloved’s death, he built her a tomb at the top of this 80-foot rock and then threw himself into the sea.

Although many people visit Lanai as a day trip from Maui, it is worth spending a few days here. Tiny Lanai is home to two world-class resorts, one at Manele Bay and one at Lanai City.  These resorts offer activities such as tennis, golf, archery, horseback riding, clay shooting, and a spa. Visitors to Lanai City in the island’s center can also stay at the smaller, plantation-style Hotel Lanai, which was built in 1923. Once home to a Dole pineapple plantation, most of Lanai City’s residents are descendants of the people who worked there.  Dole Park, at the center of town, is the perfect spot to have a picnic in the shade of towering pine trees. After lunch, browse Lanai City’s local shops and art galleries, and enjoy dinner at one of its delicious, affordable restaurants.

While Hulopoe Beach, the resorts, and Lanai City are the most popular destinations on Lanai, the island holds many hidden treasures that are only accessible by hiking or 4-wheel drive.  The Munro Trail (named after George Munro, who introduced pine trees to the island) is a 10-mile dirt road that leads up to Lanihale, the highest point on the island.  From here, you can see Maui, Molokai, Hawaii, and sometimes even Oahu!  For another spectacular view, take the Koele Nature Hike to an overlook of the stunning Maunalei Valley. One of Lanai’s strangest sights is the Garden of the Gods, with its otherworldly rock formations caused by years of erosion.  Equally eerie and beautiful is Kaiolohia (or Shipwreck) Beach, where many vessels have met their end, including an enormous 1940s oil tanker. Other remote shorelines include Polihua Beach (a favorite haunt of sea turtles) and historic Kaunolu Village, where you can see petroglyphs, remains of more than a hundred buildings, and an ancient heiau (place of worship).  There are also marvelous views of Shark Fin Cove and the 60-foot cliffs where warriors jumped to prove their bravery.

Lanai is a place of mysterious beauty, back road adventures, and luxurious resorts. Though small, it offers a big dose of relaxation!