A visit to Lanai can take you closer to the wild Hawaii spirit. In the winter months, visitors often witness the crashing abandon of Humpback whales on the ferry ride over from Maui. Thousands of the whales visit the islands on their annual migration. It’s not easy to get a shot as they jump and splash. This picture took Richard Remington four days to get but it also captures the stunning effort of the mammoth whales.
Getting around Lana’i
Snorkelers and divers often visit Hulopo’e Bay by charter boat and there are over 30 dive sites on the island. A short walk from the ferry building, is Manele beach and the storied Sweetheart Rock, Pu’upehe. Both are popular spots on day trips. Getting around by shuttle is simple as it stops between beach, town, the Four Seasons resort and the small ferry terminal throughout the day.
If there’s more time, adventurous travelers can rent jeeps in town and set off to explore the far corners of the island. That is unless the weather floods the dirt roads turning them into dangerous, clay slip. We ran into that problem even though it hadn’t rained for days before we arrived.
Sadly, the road was closed to the Garden of the Gods with its legendary rock formations and the western hill trails. We were still able to traverse the island, passing clutches of wild turkeys, pass thick groves where hunters help keep the Axis deer population in bounds and descended through an ancient volcanic playground of boulders. Finally we wound along the beach groves to the end of the road where a carved stone marked, Shipwreck Beach.
Very little of a big history
Before Western contact the Hawaiians settled along the windward shore. A protected reef made fishing plentiful. Fresh water was found in little valleys and seeps along the shore. Remains of the early home, and ceremonial sites, along with petroglyphs, can still be found in the area.
The winds once drove canoes onto the reefs. Since the 1820’s there have been many shipwrecks in the area. U.S. agencies placed an unmanned lighthouse on the shore. It’s gone now. What’s made the beach most famous is an outsized, man-made profile that sits motionless on the off shore reef. In the mid-1950’s the U.S. Navy planned to sink the large, ferro-cement tanker in the deep waters but it broke loose to wash onto the reef near Kaha’ulehale. Today the monolith remains as a surreal photo opportunity for those willing to tackle the road and hike to the viewpoint or beyond. It’s a solitary and dangerous place but we were lucky to explore it later at our hotel by watching a fly-over documentary about the wreck.
When I return to Lanai I hope to experience more of wild Hawaii.
On the list is:
- Wandering between the boulders in the Garden of the Gods
- Hiking the Munro Trail to the lookout
- Diving in Kaumalapa’u Harbor.
That is, of course, if the gods of weather and the winds permit.
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We love Lanai – it’s so authentically Hawaiian! We particularly enjoyed the 5-mile Koloiki Ridge hiking trail, which leads from the Four Seasons’ Lodge at Koele. Great ocean views from up top! The funky Hotel Lanai is a great spot for dinner – good food, and less expensive than the Four Seasons :-).
Nice that you hiked the trail. Sounds like you were on Lanai for a few days. We had much to do in just 36 hours. Hotel Lanai is more my style generally but having the chance to stay at the Four Seasons was a dip into luxury that I hope to repeat one day!
We’ve been to the major Hawaiian Islands, but even though we lived in Honolulu last year for 3 months, we have never made it to Lanai nor Molokai. Your photos and narrative are more grist for the “We need to return to Hawaii” mill.
I’ve been to the islands at least a half dozen times and still feel it’s time to talk about returning!
Lanai, Hawaii looks amazing. Sometimes nature is what we want and what we seek — you found it!!
Exactly, Marilyn. Each of Hawaii’s islands offers so much connection with nature if you seek it out. A magical place for certain.
I had no idea about the tanker at Shipwreck Beach. Definitely surreal. Lanai is one island I haven’t visited yet and really didn’t know these aspects you’ve shown. I’ve just pictured hanging out at a secluded resort (which would be very nice), but the history and all makes it ever so much more interesting.
Thanks, Cathy, I’m glad you found some new things out about Hawaii and especially, Lanai. It’s a very different and, I feel, more authentic experience.
In 6 weeks, we will be flying to Kauai and Maui. Is this anywhere near any of the two? Is it possible to get there from either? The photo of the shipwreck is mystical!
Carol, you can take the express ferry from Lahaina to Lana’i easily. It’s a day trip or longer. You’ll need to rent a jeep to get to Shipwreck Beach provided the roads not too muddy. I’m so glad you liked the wreck. I think it’s spooky-cool too.
I wish I had more time when I was in Maui years ago because this is something I would have loved to have seen.
Perhaps you’ll get a chance to visit Hawaii again and see this for yourself.
What a fabulous place!
Lana’i is definitely a different experience of Hawaii.
We had a whale watching session a few weeks ago and were delighted when it rolled over next to our boat. Lana’i looks a very interesting and beautiful island.
Sounds like a wonderful encounter. I always feel blessed when a wild creature chooses to stop and be witnessed.
I’d love to visit Lanai … anywhere in that region really ! Your pic of the breaching whale is awesome. I’ve tried and failed in Western Australia 😉
Thanks, Jo, Breeching whales are very hard to capture on film. The picture I used is from an excellent photographer, Richard Remington. It took him four days to get a good shot.
I am impressed you got to see parts of Hawaii that most people (including me) didn’t even know existed. I would do almost anything to go see that wrecked ship. What an unlikely sight.
Hi Yogi, I do feel lucky. The Shipwreck was something I just had to see since first hearing about it a few years ago. Definitely spooky cool.
Fantastic photos of Lana’i!
So glad you had fun and could share all the great photos with us all.
The Jeep trips sound like fun – something I might try myself.
Have a Great Week!!
The jeep was a blast, mud and all. Wish we could’ve been there longer.
Fantastic breaching whale.
I loved that shot too. Took the photographer four days at sea to capture a ‘clean breech.’
We never made it to Lanai on our visit, and I’m sorry we didn’t (although that shipwreck creeped me out a little, I have to say! I have a ‘thing’ with ‘things’ in the ocean 😉
Hi Jane, Sorry that creeped you out a bit. It was shipwrecked there by accident as a plan to be sunk by the Navy in the channel. Winds and tides had another idea.
Wonderful post on Lanai Hawaii. I love the awesome whale capture! Great info, images and post. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your week!
So glad you enjoyed the post. I sure enjoyed Lana’i and always love visiting Hawaii.
We stayed on La’nai last year at the Four Season’s ranch having gotten a great rate on Kayak or Hotwire. Sadly this year the rate had increased by several hundred dollars per night so no La’nai. We loved the small town and its many shops and restaurants during our earlier stay.
Nice to hear you’ve been to Lana’i. The Four Seasons is undergoing a major renovation. I sense another hike in day rates coming.