Lanai Hawaii: The Island that Surprised Me

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Read the full disclosure policy here.

When you read about Lanai Hawaii all you really glean is that it’s a small island off Maui with three resorts.

It sounds like it’s some bougie place people go to lay on the beach.

It’s so much more.

To be clear Lanai Hawaii is not a budget destination. There are three luxury hotels. But don’t let that mislead you to believe its like any other beach destination.

Lānaʹi has a really interesting history. It was once the home to a gigantic Dole plantation but cheaper labour overseas meant Dole pulled out and tourism came in to save the island for unemployment.

The transition was so smooth they say no one missed a paycheque.

And while I thought all of the resorts would be slightly modified versions of each other I was really surprised.

Where to Stay in Lanai Hawaii

Hotel Lanai

Hotel Lana’i

This is the original building where Dole entertained guests. It maintains that old plantation field and stays true with classic Hawaiian quilts. It’s located next to where everyone lives and there is a small town feel.

Read Reviews on TripAdvisor or Book on Expedia

828 Lanai AvenueLanai City, Lanai, HI 96763

Four Seasons Lanai

Four Seasons Lodge at Koele

This is is also a repurposed building as it was once used to house the ranchers who looked after cattle before the plantation came in.

As my mother says, it feels like a ranch not a hotel pretending to be a ranch.

I actually liked the character of the lodge so much I could never imagine staying down below near the water at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai.

Yes you read corrected there are 2 Four Seasons on the island and you can take a shuttle between the two to use services at both.

I didn’t want to go to Manele Bay, it seemed to lack the character of the Lodge but I was up for a glorious surprise.

Read Reviews on TripAdvisor or Book on Expedia

1 Keomoku HwyLanai City

lanai dolphins

Four Seasons Resort Lanai – Formerly Manele Bay

The hotel is located in a bay that ban boats and we were told to go on our patio for breakfast to see some dolphins.

At first I didn’t think it was a big deal but then we saw at least 50-75 dolphins feeding and sleeping. Some people were out in the water and the dolphins came right up.

Read Reviews on TripAdvisor or Check the Best Rates on Expedia

1 Manele Bay RoadLanai City

A lot of people come to Lānaʹi for a beach day or overnight and these hotels are great but Lana’i has so much more to see.

Just like Moloka’i, Lana’i is an island people don’t really know about but if you’re willing to invest some time they both have so much to offer.

What to do in Lanai Hawaii

There are so many things to do in Lanai, I was able to go snuba diving, met a singing cowboy, went on a 3-hour tour of Lanai island and its history, ate at so many Lanai restaurants, and even went clay shooting in Lanai.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Lāna’i Visitors Bureau, they did not ask that I write a favourable review or spend 45 minutes watching the dolphins swim around.

Join the Conversation

  1. Chompchomp says:

    How beautiful are those dolphins! What a lovely place

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was such a surprise, I thought we’d only see one or two.

  2. Seeing all those dolphins must have been amazing, what an experience. Did you go into the water with them?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      No they ask people to act naturally in the water and not go out swimming to them. Those people were already in the water and the dolphins approached them. I’m okay with seeing from afar..this time 🙂

  3. Chrystal McKay says:

    WOW! what a way to spend a morning! I thought it was nice hearing the birds and church bells here in Venice – but I think you have me beat with morning dolphin spotting! Get yourself out on a surfboard! Look at how close those people are!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh Venice is beautiful as well, you can’t compare the two!

  4. I thought it was nice hearing the birds and church bells here in Venice – but I think you have me beat with morning dolphin spotting! Get yourself out on a surfboard! Thanks that you’ve shared.

  5. Meg | One Love Meg says:

    I still have yet to go to this Island. David has never been to any of the islands so maybe I will take him there first. Thanks for sharing your lovely experience. It’s always refreshing to hear the good!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s such a short trip from Maui you could tag it onto a trip, you really need a few days if you want to discover more than the beach but The Four Seasons has a really good deal where you get the fourth night free which is a pretty good discount.

  6. This looks and sounds amazing!! My wife and I have been wanting to go to Hawaii for a while now and this looks like a great place for us to visit! Thanks so much for the pictures and info. I look forward to hearing about the rest of the trip!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I highly recommend Maui County, if you fly into Maui you can see Moloka’i and Lana’i and all three islands are so different but each really special in their own way.

  7. I’ve never been to Hawaii, so I mostly think of the whole state as being touristy resorts for people to lay on the beach. It’s really nice to know there are places that are a little more original and have a unique atmosphere, even if it is still (understandably) expensive. The dolphins sound incredible!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That is exactly what I thought it would be – a really inexpensive beach destination. But the islands have a really strong indigenous culture that is prevalent everywhere you go, it’s really special and something they should talk about more.

      It’s also why when they asked me if I wanted to come for 5 days I countered with a month, I wanted to discover what the islands were about beyond the sun and beach.

  8. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Oh it just looks and sounds gorgeous!!! Take me there now!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      This is right up your alley Andi, you would love it here.

  9. Elle from SOLO FEMALE NOMAD says:

    Oh my! With the rain hitting my window at the moment, I could really do with a holiday there – looks gorgeous!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Here’s hoping sunny weather comes your way, OR you make it over here!

  10. Ron | Active Planet Travels says:

    Lanai’i is a beautiful island! Too bad you weren’t there during the whale migration season! You can usually see the humpbacks breaching the water and everything…it’s really cool! Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your stay!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      What? There’s more?? I would love to see that, perhaps I need to go back…

  11. You officially win. Polar bears over the summer and now a zillion dolphins just chillaxing nearby? If you’re next trip involves penguins or cheetahs, I might die from animal overload 🙂

    1. Ugh, *your. I promise I know the difference…

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        I know you do!

  12. Camels & Chocolate says:

    Yeah, you wouldn’t have to convince me to go here–or to sit around and watch the dolphins with you =)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s such a great island, and the best part is no one knows about it.

  13. I love your disclosure statement, every time. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know I’m obligated to write them although I hope everyone knows I’d never write anything just because someone invited me somewhere. I try to be choosy about things and turn them down if they don’t feel right.

  14. Leah Travels says:

    I really love the history there. And tell the truth, I know they made you watch those dolphins.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Haha I know, right!

  15. Ava Apollo says:

    There may be nothing more soothing than watching dolphins play in the waves. I could watch them for hours!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I had to pry my mother away because we had things to do that day, it was a great morning.

  16. Good to know there is so much more to these smaller islands that are under represented. A good thing, since I feel most of the other islands are overly focused on tourism.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have so much to share about Lana’i – honestly the Four Seasons there is amazing we had a fantastic time by the pool – as you would expect. But we did so many other things that I would never have thought existed on the island.

  17. I remember seeing a lot of day trip offerings to Lanai when I was in Maui…now it definitely seems like it warrants more than a day. Paddling out to see dolphins feeding looks amazing.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know people who do the day trips just head to the beach, but there is really so much more to see – much more than I thought there would be.

  18. You may be the first person I’ve ever heard of who didn’t want to check-in to a Four Seasons hotel. We all appreciate you making the sacrifice for us. Sounds like an amazing place for a getaway.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know I am a bit odd that way but I really like places with character and was getting attached to Hotel Lana’i.

      We ended up having such a great time at the pool there, I was so glad my mother was with me.

  19. That is amazing they were able to transition so smoothly between businesses. Such a rarity and such a gift to the people there. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know this is definitely a case where tourism helps a community.

  20. Roy Marvelous says:

    That Four Seasons lounge looks very cozy.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Far far too cozy to leave.

  21. I live on Oahu, and while you can’t hitchhike legaly i see people here doing it all the time! Not sure on how enforced it is, but the fact that i see people doing it makes me believe that it isn’t. Kind of like the laws about kids not being alowed in the back of pick up trucks. I see kids, people on chairs, 8 people at a time, loose dogs, etc. . all in the back of pickup trucks all the time.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I haven’t really seen any of that in Lana’i.

  22. I want to live in Hotel Lana’i forever and ever. I feel like I decorated that room myself.

  23. Lisa @ Gone with the Family says:

    Sounds amazing! We spent a week on Maui a few years ago and considered a day trip to Lana’i but never got around to it. If I had known that there would be dolphins swimming like that in the bay then I would have made more of an effort!

  24. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista says:

    Although more popular today, I think Lanai is the best kept secret in Hawaii! You’re right, it isn’t the least expensive place to be but it does have more of a traditional Hawaii feel to it.

  25. There’s so much about these islands that I never knew existed. 🙂

  26. Susan @ Travel Junkette says:

    50-75 dolphins.. WOW! I have to go here!

  27. Every time I read about one of the places you’ve been, I feel like I have to go there. Here is another one. I am really interested in going to some places with beautiful nature, and this seems like a great option for me and my family.

  28. A bay that bans boats? Yes, please!

    I’ve heard such great things about Lana’i lately… you are making me want to go back to Hawaii SO badly!

  29. Pingback: Little experiments | GeoPosted
  30. I’ve read a fair amount on Lana’i, and they are all pretty much unanimous about visiting there. Sounds like an absolute must!

  31. I met the woman from Lanai tourism a few years back in New York and it seemed like a really cool place. I didn’t know about the three resorts…but she made it seem like low-budget travelers could hitchhike around and camp on peoples properties…a different way yo see the island.

Comments are closed.

© Copyright 2021. Bacon Is Magic. All rights reserved