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Lanai is a tiny island with only 30 miles (42.3 km) worth of roads and two small towns, and thanks to its small size, there are plenty of things to see and do without a car here. From hiking to snorkeling to touring the small town of Lanai City, you won’t regret taking a trip to this small, secluded island.
The best things to do on Lanai without a car are visiting Hulopoe Beach, walking to Puu Pehe and Shark’s Bay, dining at Malibu Farm Restaurant, and hiking Fisherman’s Trail. If you take the city’s shuttle, you can also visit Lanai Cat Sanctuary and Lanai City.
In this article, I’ll give you a full itinerary for a day on Lanai, starting from the Lanai Small Boat Harbor and ending in the city. I’ll tell you the easiest ways to get around, discuss the best places to eat, and help you get to the most memorable attractions on the island.
1. Go to Hulopoe Beach
If you take the Expeditions Ferry to Lanai or choose to stay at the Four Seasons on the southern coast, visit Hulupoe Beach, only a 10-minute walk from the dock.
Hulopoe Beach has gained quite a bit of fame, but you’ll never see huge crowds here, which makes it one of the best beaches to visit in all of Hawaii.
You’ll get to enjoy some of the whitest sands and best snorkeling spots here, so it’s an excellent spot for a full day of sunbathing and swimming.
The water is always warm and calm in the summer, and it’s a great place to swim alongside Lanai’s coral reefs and the many fish that inhabit them.
However, the waves can get rough in the fall and winter, so don’t pack your swimsuit while visiting during whale-watching season.
This bay is a marine conservation area, so it’s also a wonderful place to spot some marine wildlife.
On the shore of Hulopoe Beach, walk south to visit Keiki tidal pools. You’ll find dark volcanic rock pools full of hermit crabs, starfish, and crabs below the bay’s soaring rock cliffs. You’ll also see spinner dolphins leaping from the bright blue waters in warmer weather.
2. Hike to Puu Pehe and Shark’s Bay
If you’re in the mood for a short hike, climb up the cliffs on the south side of Hulopoe Beach to get a close-up view of Puu Pehe, also called Sweetheart Rock.
It’s a 15-minute climb, leading you to a historic – and romantic – site where a legendary Hawaiian warrior jumped into the sea after the death of his wife. The views from the soaring lava rock cliffs are superb, giving you a bird’s eye view of Lanai.
There are many places to explore along the bay, too, so if the hike to Sweetheart Rock isn’t enough for you, keep going!
If you take a route through the tidal pools on the southern side of Hulopoe Beach, you’ll get to Shark’s Bay, a fantastic place to see monk seals and soak up some sun on a secluded beach. However, the water can be pretty rough here, so it’s not the best spot for swimming.
3. Grab Brunch or Lunch at Malibu Farm Restaurant
Malibu Farm Restaurant, a poolside and beachside spot inside the Four Seasons Lanai, is the perfect place to grab brunch or drinks to fill up before your day on the island. It’s beside Hulopoe Bay, only a short walk from Manele Small Boat Harbor.
They also offer dinner, but the stunning views from their outdoor dining area are best in the brightest daylight, allowing you to see all of Hulopoe Bay and its cresting whales in winter and dolphins in summer.
This farm-to-table restaurant specializes in locally-sourced ingredients, so you’ll enjoy fresh, Hawaiian-sourced foods here. Their Local Fish Sandwich is a great choice if you want a light but filling meal, but their burgers are true show-stoppers.
They also offer some of the best cocktails on the island, so grab a Mai Tai before you leave and sit back to bask in the shade underneath their stunning canopy. You won’t regret it!
4. Hike Fisherman’s Trail
Fisherman’s Trail is for people who are here for a long hike. It’s 1.4 miles (2.25 km) west of the Manele Small Boat harbor and only 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Four Seasons Hotel.
This trail extends 2.2 miles (3.5 km) along the coast and is an out-and-back route. The walk isn’t too strenuous, but you’ll get a workout while enjoying the jagged cliffs that face Lanai’s shore.
Be sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks for your journey! Packing in a picnic is also fantastic if you want to enjoy the views and spend more time on this stunning trail.
If you’re an avid hiker, you might also want to read my article, Which Hawaiian Island Has the Best Hiking?, where I’ll help you find all of the best hiking spots in Hawaii.
5. Visit Lanai Cat Sanctuary
If you want to spend some time at a truly remarkable place during your visit, go to Lanai Cat Sanctuary.
Lanai Cat Sanctuary is a 3.5-acre park, and it is home to over 3,000 cats! The park is only open from 10 AM to 3 PM on any day of the week, so be sure to get here early.
It’s only 1.5 miles from the Lanai Airport, so it’s an easy option if you took a flight to the island. However, you can always take Rabaca’s Limousine Service — more commonly called the City Shuttle — there, whether you’re on the southern coast, at the airport, or at Kaumalapau Harbor.
Fare only costs $10 per person one-way on the shuttle, making transportation easy and affordable. However, it’s best to call ahead since it is one of the only ways to get around the island. So, call them at (808) 559-0230 a couple of days before you arrive to set up a pickup.
It doesn’t cost anything to the Cat Sanctuary, but donations are encouraged since it’s a nonprofit organization that spays, neuters, and provides medical care for feral cats on Lanai.
By keeping these cats healthy and giving them a home, the sanctuary also protects the native birds, helping to preserve the island’s vibrant ecosystem. So, you’re supporting a great cause when you visit!
You’ll be given a bag of cat treats and be greeted by a large group of feline friends as soon as you get there, and there are plenty of places to lay down a picnic blanket or sit in chairs to pet the large crowds of curious kitties.
6. Tour Lanai City
Lanai City is in the center of the island, but it has many things to do. It’s a tiny town with a comfy, casual, and homey vibe.
I recommend taking the shuttle here after visiting the Cat Sanctuary. Still, you can skip the sanctuary and take Rabaca’s Limousine Service right into the town from the airport or your ferry’s harbor.
When taking the shuttle, head straight to Lanai Culture and Heritage Center, a small museum and a welcome center where you can get maps, brochures for nearby attractions, and souvenirs. There’s always someone helpful there waiting for you, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice on what to do next if you aren’t sure!
Going to the Culture and Heritage Center will put you right in the middle of town, just a short walk away from Lanai’s best restaurants like Blue Ginger Cafe, Ganotisi’s Pacific Rim Cuisine, and Pele’s Other Garden Deli.
I recommend grabbing some food to go from one of these nearby spots and setting up a picnic spot at Dole Park, which is part of the city’s history as the leading producer of pineapples for Dole.
After that, enjoy the excellent boutiques and galleries in the surrounding buildings that once served as housing for pineapple farmers to wind down after a long day.