If you’ve been following this blog for more than a minute, you probably know that Hawai’i is one of my favorite places in the world! One of the reasons why is that each island is so different. I love writing these “what to know before you go” posts for the islands because I honestly think they’re truly useful, and I think that’s especially true of Lana’i.
You’ll find plenty of information out there about all the rest of the Hawaiian islands you can visit, but Lana’i is special. It’s the least visited island you can stay on (Ni’ihau has fewer visitors, but they also don’t have any hotels or restaurants!), and as such, there’s not a lot of informaiton out there in the blogosphere. While I was planning my posts and researching for this trip, I wanted to make sure I hit the high points and got all the best information for you, so you can plan as wonderful a trip here as possible. Here are the best tips you’ll find for visiting Hawaii’s Pineapple Isle.
Do everything: The Ultimate Lana’i Bucket List
How to Get There
You have two options: Ferry or tiny plane.
The ferry only leaves from Lahaina, on Mau’i, and arrives at Manele Bay on Lana’i. It’s operated by a company called Expeditions, and the ferry makes four round-trips daily, and the trip is about one hour each day. Click here for ferry times and further information.
It’s important to know that Lahaina is 25 miles, or 35 minutes, from Kahului Airport (OGG), and 7 miles, or 20 minutes) from Kapalua Airport (JHM–inter-island flights only). Parking at Lahaina Harbor is up to $25 per day. Note: The ferry is for passengers only; no cars.
The nice thing about taking a small plane is that it’s not just transportation–it’s also a scenic flight! At the time we visited (November 2021), only two airlines fly into Lana’i Airport (LNY): Mokulele and Lana’i Air. ‘Ohana by Hawaii has flown to Lana’i in the past, but no longer offers service.
Mokulele Airlines offers inter-island service to the Island of Hawai’i, Lana’i, Mau’i, Molokai, and O’ahu (no service to Kaua’i at this time). What’s unique is that they fly to the smaller, commuter airports as well, not just the larger ones. Click here to see their destinations.
This luxury charter service is owned operated by Larry Ellison, who also owns 98% of the island of Lana’i, as well as both Four Seasons locations on Lana’i and Hotel Lana’i. The cost of this flight to Lana’i is included in the cost of a room at the Four Seasons. Flights to Lana’i on this airline go from the Island of Hawai’i, Kaua’i, O’ahu, and Maui, with the primary flights offered between O’ahu and Lana’i. Flights are not offered to or from Molokai at this time.
More here: What to Expect Flying in a Tiny Plane
How to Get Around
You will need a car. Lana’i City is very walkable, but there are no Ubers, Lyfts, or traditional taxis to get you to Lana’i City!
Limo and Non-traditional Taxi Services
There are two car services on the island, but they must be booked in advance.
- Rabaca’s Limo Service: $10 per person, each way; cash only; call or text 808-559-0230 to book, or e-mail RabacaLimousine@gmail.com to book; personalized tours available.
- Dela Cruz Taxi Service: Group rates and active duty military discounts available; call 808-649-0808 to book.
Read this first: Everything You Need to Know about Renting a Car on Lana’i
30 Miles of Paved Roads
It’s up to you if you rent a regular vehicle or a 4-wheel drive (4WD) Jeep, which is a bit more expensive. But keep in mind that you can only drive a regular car on paved roads. Some rental cars have trackers on them, so the owner will know if you go off-roading in one of their cars, and you will be fined. That will limit you, but there are still plenty of things to keep you occupied!
Get all the info: Everywhere You Can Go on Lana’i WITHOUT 4WD
Off-roading with 4WD
You will definitely need 4WD in some areas of Lana’i while off-roading. It was worth it to Steve and me to pay a little extra for a Jeep, but that may not be the best choice for you. To help, I’ve written blog posts about where to go WITH 4WD and where to go WITHOUT 4WD. Definitely check them out so you can make the best decision for you!
More here: The Best Places to Go on Lana’i WITH 4WD
- There are no stoplights on the island.
- The highest speed limit anywhere on the island is 45 mph.
- There is one gas station. You can’t miss it! In November 2021, gas was $6.09 per gallon. That is not a typo.
More here: How to Save BIG on Your Trip to Hawaii
When planning your day, think about food before you go anywhere. Seriously! The restaurants at the Four Seasons properties are currently (due to COVID) only open to guests of those two hotels. So, if you’re staying at Hotel Lana’i, a vacation rental on the island, or just on-island for a day trip, you can only get food in Lana’i City. This means two things:
- If you’re going anywhere outside of Lana’i City, either start full or get take-out to bring with you. Always take snacks and a full bottle of water wherever you go, just in case! There is literally nowhere else on the island to get food. You don’t want to be all the way at Polihua Beach or the Kaunolu Village Site with no food or water!
- Richard’s Market is always an option. A few restaurants are open for breakfast. Most (but not all) restaurants are open for lunch, and at least when we visited, only two restaurants were open for dinner (and not every night). Richard’s Market, the town grocery store, is open all day, from 6:00am-9:00pm, so if you’re in a pinch, go to Richard’s!
Also, the opening and closing times listed online are definitely not always right! Every business’ hours have changed since COVID began, and Maps, Google, and the rest of the Internet have not caught up!
Get a preview: Where to Eat on Lana’i
I like to think my blog is known for the practical information. You know, the things you’ll definitely use and be glad to know!
There’s an App for That
Lana’i has an app! It’s called Lana’i Guide, and it’s available for iPhone and Android. Because there is so little out there on blogs and social media, this app was very helpful. All the data is downloaded within the app, so you can also access everything (except photos) without wi-fi or data. In fact, I wish we’d remembered to use it more! It includes information for hikes, driving tours, specific sites, history, and more.
Bring a Light Jacket
Yes, really! Lana’i City is 1600 feet above sea level, and we got chilly in the mornings and when the sun went down at night! Bring a light jacket, and maybe a scarf!
One of my most-viewed posts ever: 5 Things You Forgot to Pack for Hawaii
Pineapples are No Longer Grown Here
It’s still called the Pineapple Isle, but the last pineapple harvest was back in 1992! Lana’i was once the largest pineapple plantation in the world, beginning operations in 1922 with the Dole corporation. Pineapple once covered 20,000 acres across the island, and the plastic sheets they used to use in the planting process can still be seen on the dirt roads and trails.
Don’t lose heart: 5 Ways Hawaii is Incredibly Earth-friendly
The great challenge in planning a trip to Lana’i is making sure you have a place to stay. Options are limited, so book this first before you even book your flights–you don’t want to book a plane ticket and then realize there’s nowhere left to stay when you arrive! Here’s the run-down:
- The Four Seasons Lana’i and Four Seasons Sensei: These are luxury accommodations owned by Larry Ellison, and rooms cost anywhere from $1200-$2000 per night for the Four Seasons Lana’i; $800-$1200 per night for Four Seasons Sensei.
- Hotel Lana’i: This historic, boutique-style hotel is also owned by Larry Ellison and is located in Lana’i City. It has only 11 rooms and 1 detached cottage. Rooms are $315-$375 per night.
- Air BnB: There are two Lana’i City accommodations listed on AirBnB. Dreams Come True is currently listed for $230 per night; Lana’i Hale is listed for $175. None are listed on VRBO.
Get the details: Everything You Need to Know about Staying at Hotel Lana’i
Cash and Credit Cards
In our experience, only Blue Ginger and Rabaccas accept cash only; every other business or restaurant we went to also accepted credit cards. If you do find yourself in need of cash, there are two ATMs in Lana’i City, and they’re about two blocks away from each other. One is at Bank of Hawaii, the other is at First Hawaiian Bank, so unless you bank with one of those already, make sure you know your bank’s policy about ATM fees and reimbursement.
Must read: The Ultimate Guide to Travel and Your Money
and What to Consider When Opening a Travel Credit Card
Want more? You’ll find everything you need to plan your trip to Lana’i on my dedicated Hawaiian Islands Page!
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