Having spent the last 15 years living on Maui, I only visited our neighbor island of Lanai once, for a high school tennis match. Believe it or not, most locals I have talked to agreed they too had only been to the small (and very close) island a few times if any.
Even though I won my tennis match some 11 years ago, I felt like my one experience of Lanai was severely incomplete, so I decided to head back now as an adult to explore what the island has to offer. For those who don’t know, the Lanai Ferry is a very convenient service (takes about 45 minutes to get from island to island) and runs daily out of both Lahaina and Ma’alaea Harbor for about $30 each way (Kama’aina rates are cheaper). For more information on the ferry, read this detailed post I wrote earlier.
Lanai has a population of about 3,500, all located in central Lanai City. There are no stop lights on the island and it is an informal rule to wave at every car you pass (since you will pass about four). There are various things you should see and do when visiting Lanai, so I will break them up into three different blogs posts. This blog post will be dedicated to renting a 4X4 jeep. There are two rental companies that rent out jeeps for the day. Be sure to call in and reserve your jeep a couple days in advance, as they will sell out.
Once you get the keys to your jeep, it is up to you to decide what trails to explore. There is the “severely off road” Munro Trail that goes up the Lanai volcano (you will think you are on the set of Jurassic Park, with all the ferns and vegetation that smacks your windshield), a trail that goes out to Garden of the Gods (a rock formation that will give Bryce Canyon in Utah a run for its money), and a trail that will take you out to a beach with an ancient shipwreck and the northern coast of the island.
Shipwreck beach was my favorite destination because I can’t think of any other time I have been at a beach with a giant World War II ship abandoned just off shore (I also can’t remember many beaches where I was the only one leaving footprints). The ship isn’t the only thing that has run its course on the beach. Apparently, with the way the currents and trade winds hit the Hawaiian Islands, a lot of the Pacific Ocean debris ends up on the shores of this deserted beach. Walk up and down the beach combing for items. If you are lucky, like I was on this particular trip, you will come across a glass ball about the size of a baseball (known as a glass float) and used more than a half century ago by fisherman as bobbers before plastic was invented. The floats drift in the open ocean for decades before finally reaching land.
All in all, renting a 4X4 jeep on Lanai is a must. If you are going to travel to a remote island, you should provide yourself with the opportunity see as much of it as you can!
…Stay tuned for more suggestions (part 2 and 3 of this series) on day trip ideas to Lanai.