Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

The Travel Agent’s Ultimate Guide to Lanai

Lanai is one of the smaller and more deserted islands within the Hawaiian archipelago with only a little over 3,000 people who call the island home.

Lanai Basics

  • Getting there –There is one airport on the island of Lanai called the Lanai Airport. Nautical-loving travelers can also visit the island via cruise ship where they will dock at one of the local ports or cruise terminals.
  • Location – Lanai is Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island and is located in the middle of the Hawaiian Island chain.
  • Climate – Lanai is the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii and is divided into three regions: Central Lanai, North Lanai and South Lanai.
  • Currency – Since Hawaii is part of the United States their currency is the U.S. dollar.
  • Language – Fun fact: Hawaii is the only American state with two official languages: Hawaiian and English. In addition to speaking in two native tongues, many Hawaiians also use a form of slang called Pidgin.

Lodging

The hotel scene in Lanai certainly differs from the more bustling Hawaiian cities, but it does offer two luxurious resorts for visitors: the Four Seasons Resort Lanai and Hotel Lanai.

Food

If travelers want to experience a taste of real Lanai, they need look no further than the Blue Ginger Café, a small restaurant with a fabulous array of choices for any meal of the day. Some entrees among local favorites include the Portuguese omelet, mahi-mahi burger and literally anything from the fresh, on-site bakery. The Four Seasons Resort is also home to many popular dining options on the island such as Nobu Lanai, One Forty and The Sports Bar and Grill. Those looking for a high-class dining experience at the Hotel Lanai must visit the Lanai City Bar and Grille for fantastic entrees, desserts and beverages.

Fun

  • Adventure – Outdoorsy couples won’t want to miss a hike to the tippy top of Puu Pehe, aka Sweetheart Rock, where they can catch the most romantic sunsets in town accompanied by spinner dolphins and seabirds. Another notable beachside location is Kaiolohia, or Shipwreck Beach, an area where the hull of a wrecked 1940s oil tanker can be seen from shore. Cat lovers will discover that kitty heaven is a place on earth at the Lanai Cat Sanctuary; home to more than 600 spayed and neutered cats. This nonprofit makes lifelong care possible for each of their “Hawaiian lions” and every cat at the sanctuary is adoptable and ready to fly after a quick check-up from the on-site veterinarian.
  • Entertainment – When it comes to nightlife, the place to be in Lanai is the Four Seasons’ Lanai Luau. Here, travelers will enjoy a delicious Hawaiian buffet, sip on fruity drinks and witness a show rich in Hawaiian tradition.
  • Shopping – Visitors won’t find bustling shopping malls on the small island of Lanai. However, those looking to shop can visit some of the island’s boutique shops like Makamae, the Cory Labang Studio and Pilina.

History and Culture

  • Munro Trail – Although it may not look like it today, the island of Lanai was once a large cattle ranch and The Four Seasons resort now resides in the area that was the center of ranching operations. Travelers can visit Munro Trail for a look at the many Cook pine trees planted by ranch manager George Munro in the early 1900s.
  • Keahiakawelo, Garden of the Gods – Legend has it that two kahuna (priests) had a scorching contest that resulted in the barren, rocky landscape of Keahiakawelo that we see today. Travelers can explore this other-worldly landscape via 4-wheel-drive and appreciate a place that inspired legends.

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