Exploring Lanai: Four Seasons and Beyond

a rocky cliff with waves crashing on the water

If you’re looking to escape the relative hustle and bustle of the other Hawaiian islands, then Lanai is the perfect getaway. With a population of just 3,000 and another 1,000 or so guests on the island at any given time, you won’t find much competition for space on the beaches or the 30 miles of paved roads around the island.

In part I I provided my detailed review of the Four Seasons Lanai, and here I’ll be focusing on the activities that you can find around the resort and beyond.


Around the Four Seasons

There’s a long walkway from the hotel’s pools that leads down to the beautiful Hulopoe Beach, which had some of the softest white sand that you’ll find anywhere. Even though this was the most popular beach on Lanai, it never felt crowded. At any given time, there were probably fewer than 100 total people out there, comprised of a mix of hotel guests, locals, and day-trippers from Maui.

four seasons lanai hulopoe beach 1

four seasons lanai hulopoe beach 2

At the end of the beach nearest to the hotel, the Four Seasons had a fully staffed beach hut with attendants who helped service the guests who were using the loungers.

four seasons lanai hulopoe beach 3

We took a walk over to the other end of the beach, and found the trail leading up to the top of Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock. The trail started with a stroll along the rocks and tide pools, which was also the most popular part of the beach for snorkelers.

four seasons lanai tidepools

It only took about 30 minutes to get to the top, and the elevation provided great views over Manele Bay. If you’re lucky, you can often find dolphins swimming here, especially in the early morning.

four seasons lanai puu pehe sweetheart rock hike

We turned the final corner, and Sweetheart Rock was finally in sight.

four seasons lanai puu pehe sweetheart rock 1

four seasons lanai puu pehe sweetheart rock view

Overall this was a pretty easy hike and would highly recommend taking the time to check out one of the most iconic landmarks on Lanai.

four seasons lanai puu pehe sweetheart rock panorama

On another day, we hiked the Fisherman’s Trail which started at the end of the beach nearest to the hotel. The trail head was hard to find at first, but eventually we found the signage among all the rocks.

four seasons lanai fishermans trail

The trail pretty much stayed along the coast and took us all the way up the hill toward the golf course. We walked at a pretty brisk pace and the round-trip took about 2 – 2.5 hours.

four seasons lanai fishermans trail hike 2

As you get closer to the top, you actually start to walk along a trail that meanders past the golf course. The trail was littered with golf balls, from those who may have overshot their targets and ended up in the woods.

I’d recommend doing this hike in the early morning – we started at about 9AM and the sun was unrelenting due to the lack of shade.

four seasons lanai golf course

When we weren’t at the pool or at the beach, we spent most of our time hanging out at the Sports Bar. Our stay coincided with the NBA Conference Finals, so there were Warriors vs. Thunder and Cavaliers vs. Raptors games on alternating days. With the time difference, it made for a perfect way to spend a few hours relaxing in the late afternoon after being in the sun all day.

The bar was decked out with numerous top-of-the-line TV’s and had a great selection of food and beers along with pool tables and shuffleboards.

four seasons lanai pool tables

four seasons lanai shuffleboard

Between the swimming and hiking we were already pretty active, but we did use the hotel’s fitness center a couple of times. There was a large studio which was used for group classes.

four seasons lanai gym studio

As well as a mix of cardio and strength training equipment that you’d find in a typical gym.

four seasons lanai gym fitness center

Except here, you have a much nicer view from the treadmill than you would at home.

four seasons lanai treadmill view


Exploring Lanai

There were more than enough activities at the resort to keep us occupied and entertained for a couple days, but we also wanted to reserve a day to explore the island. With only 30 miles of paved roads, the best way to explore the remaining 400 miles of unpaved roads is either by renting a UTV or a 4×4 vehicle.

We opted for the latter and got our Jeep through the hotel – we probably could have saved some money by using a rental agency, but it was much more convenient to rent through the hotel and their fleet of white jeeps appeared to be nicer and were essentially brand new.

We charted out our itinerary, and with the help of Google Maps, navigated toward our first stop at the Garden of the Gods. The route veered off-road beginning near the horse stables next to the other Four Seasons resort on the island. This was my first time driving truly off-road and it was tons of fun – there were even a handful of spots where we had to navigate through some pretty deep puddles of water.

Garden of the Gods was truly a sight to behold. We took a minute to flex our muscles after arriving.

four seasons lanai garden of the gods jeep

The views from the top were stunning, especially with the other islands in the background.

garden of the gods view

The best part of this leg of the itinerary was the drive down from the Garden of the Gods to Polihua Beach, which took another 15-20 minutes. I’d stack the natural beauty of Polihua right up against any other beach in the world, and when you add in the fact that it is basically deserted, it truly felt like paradise.

four seasons lanai polihua beach

We spent the rest of the day driving over to the Northeast part of Lanai which included a stop at Shipwreck Beach, which was a bit underwhelming compared to Polihua.

four seasons lanai shipwreck beach

We then continued on along a couple more dirt roads that eventually led to this landmark church.

four seasons lanai off road church

And stopped to check out some deserted black sand beaches, which were empty, other than the huge piles of trash that had washed ashore.

four seasons lanai black sand beach

Since we had eaten all of our other meals at the resort, we made sure to make use of the car to grab some food in Lanai City. On the way home we stopped by Blue Ginger Cafe for an awesome Hawaiian meal, including this mix plate.

blue ginger cafe lanai mix plate

And of course you can’t visit Hawaii without having loco moco.

blue ginger cafe lanai loco moco

Even though we had the jeep rental for a full 24-hour period, we only needed it for about 10 hours before we felt like we’d seen enough of the island. This was definitely the highlight of the activities that we did during our stay, and would definitely recommend carving out a day during your trip to explore the island.


Getting to Lanai

There are basically two ways to get to Lanai – you can either fly or take the ferry from Maui. If you decide to fly, you’ll most likely connect through Honolulu, and will land at the small island airport on Lanai. It’s worth noting that the hotel’s shuttle service is significantly more expensive from the airport than from the ferry dock.

Instead, we decided to take the ferry, primarily since I’d rather spend the layover hanging out on Maui than at the airport. After landing we took a taxi to the Lahaina ferry which took about 35-40 minutes. We also grabbed a card from our taxi driver and also booked her for the return trip to the airport a few days later. Overall, the cost between the two options is roughly the same.

There are five ferry trips between Lahaina and Lanai scheduled throughout the day about 2-3 hours apart. For those that are planning a tight transition to/from the airport, keep in mind that while the website says that the ferry will take about 45 minutes, our trips were closer to an hour.

expeditions lahaina ferry maui lanai

We had about an hour to kill in Lahaina both ways and we made use of the time to chow down. After arriving, we headed over to 808 Grindz Cafe for breakfast, which included these ridiculous mac nut pancakes, which were smothered in homemade mac-nilla sauce. Afterwards, we stopped by the Foodland next door to stock up on poke and spam musubi which we snacked on throughout our stay in Lanai.

808 grindz cafe macadamia nut pancakes

And of course, no trip would be complete without a stop for shave ice at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice.

ululanis shave ice maui

Lastly, for those that are considering a trip to Lanai, I think the sweet spot in terms of length of stay would be 3-4 nights. Unless you’re the type of person that can sit on the same beach for a week, you’ll probably get restless if you stayed any longer than that. That was enough time to spend a day checking out the island and all the hikes around the resort, while leaving some quality time for relaxation.

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