The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Hawai’i: Lana’i

This is it, y’all. This is the hiking post for Lana’i, Hawaii. I now have a hiking post for every Hawaiian island you’re allowed to hike on! Lana’i is not the first Hawaiian island most people choose to visit. In fact, most people haven’t even heard of it. But if you’re lucky enough to make your way here, whether by ferry or by plane, you’ll have your pick of interesting, beautiful, culturally significant hikes. Here are the ones we loved most!

I’d like to make a special note here to say that the trails on Lana’i are the most well-marked in all of the Hawaiian islands. There is great signage, plenty of information (so you know what you’re looking at when you get there!), and the trails are well-defined. Because of high-density tourism on most of the other islands (most notably on Kaua’i), typical trails are not clearly marked. This leads to “false trails” that people have made either by creating their own dangerous short-cuts, or just honestly being unsure of where to go. Lana’i does not have this problem!

Koloiki Ridge Trail

When we asked the locals where to hike, this was the number 1 answer. The Koloiki Ridge Trail is easy to find, but even better, it’s easy-to-moderate to hike, and it has a rewarding view at the end. You’ll find yourself with stunning views of Molokai and Mau’i, as well as Maunalei (mountain garland) Valley. It’s the largest and deepest valley on Lana’i, and according to native Hawaiian tradition, the goddess Pele and her whole family went into this valley to adorn themselves with lei from here. 

You’ll find views like this as you get close to the view point of the trail

There are several beautiful viewing areas along the trail, so take your time and enjoy them! Just remember the most rewarding view is at the end. 

Mauna Lei is the name of this beautiful gorge!

Stats

  • Location: Behind Four Seasons Sensei
  • Total Hiking Time: 2 hr 15 min
  • Round-trip Distance: 5 miles (from parking lot)
  • Cost: FREE 
  • Parking: Lot at Adventure Park
  • Terrain: dirt, roots, rocks
  • Restroom Facilities: No
  • 4WD Necessary: No
Signs like this ensure that you’ll make good choices along the way!

Tips

  • Follow the road to Four Seasons Sensei, then follow signs for the Adventure Park. Park here, then follow the sign for Koloiki Ridge Trail. 
  • We were surprised at how much of this trail went in the “down” direction on the way in, as most trails with a view tend to go up! But don’t worry, you’ll be walking upward and getting your cardio on the way back!
With all the Cook Pines, you might start to wonder if you’re in Hawaii or the Pacific Northwest!
Must read: What to Know Before You Visit Lana’i

Hi’i Trail

This one can be done on foot or driven as long as you have a Jeep! It’s a 5-mile loop with a steep incline on the front end, but once you get to the top, the rest is relatively flat. The grand view is about 1.8 miles into the trail, so if you’re strapped for time (perhaps on a day trip to the island) or you want a shorter option, you can turn back there instead of making the rest of the loop.

The view from the top is impressive!

If you do continue on the trail, you’ll find a bit of an enchanted forest feel, with the tall pines and other greenery along the way. You’ll also see one of the only remaining groves of panadus, whose fruit looks similar to pineapples and is native to Hawaii (whereas pineapple was cultivated here). There is also a sacred hei’au, but we missed it when we took this trail. Be on the lookout!

Don’t miss one of the last groves of panadus on the island. You’ll find it along the trail.

Stats

  • Location: On Manele Road, about 1.5 miles south of Lana’i City
  • Total Hiking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (1 hour 25 minutes to overlook and back)
  • Round-trip Distance: 5 miles (3.6 miles to overlook and back)
  • Cost: FREE
  • Parking: Yes, dirt lot
  • Terrain: Rock, dirt, roots, pine needles
  • Restroom Facilities: No
  • 4WD Necessary: No
Be ready for some climbing, whether on foot or in a Jeep. That mountain in the distance is where you’re headed!

Tips

  • This trail has lots of tree cover, so you won’t be roasting in the hot sun for 5 miles.
  • You will get dusty! And if it’s rained recently, you’ll get muddy. Bring a quick-dry towel just in case. (Get yours here and support my small business at no additional cost to you!)
  • There is plenty of parking at the trail head, as well as a sign with more information about the trail.
Even the loop without a sweeping view is beautiful.

Pu’upehe Trail (Sweetheart Rock)

This is a much shorter trail than my husband and I usually like, but it is, in fact, a hike. You’ll be traversing loose, rocky ground, as well as heading upward to the end of the cliff. That said, we did see a bride, complete in white bridal gown, leading the way for her photographer and groom (or father, we couldn’t tell!). I was impressed!

This iconic spot is a beautiful photo-op!

Pu’upehe is the islet just offshore, and Hawaiian folklore differs slightly about this rock, but here’s the gist. One day a Hawaiian man named Makakehau left his love, Pu’upehe, in one of the sea caves across from the islet to go get sweet water from a mountain spring. Before he could return, a great Kona storm came and killed her inside the cave, then swept her out to sea. Her body was seen in the boiling sea foam, and when Makakehau returned, he asked the people in the village to leave him alone for one night to mourn his lost love.

Overnight, he built a tomb of heavy rocks on top of the islet. No one knew how he had scaled the verticle cliffs of the islet, but they saw him stacking rocks, putting Pu’upehe inside, and placing the last rock on top to cover the tomb. He then lept from the islet, himself being crushed by the breakers.

As you climb to the top, don’t forget to look back as well.

Stats

  • Location: Hulopo’e Bay
  • Total Hiking Time: 1 hour
  • Round-trip Distance: 1 mile
  • Cost: FREE
  • Parking: Yes, lot
  • Terrain: Sand, rock, roots
  • Restroom Facilities: Yes
  • 4WD Necessary: No
From the top of the trail, you can see the West Mau’i Mountains in the distance.

Tips

  • The islet is a protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Do not attempt to climb it.
  • Wear good shoes. The trail is short, but the ground is loose.
  • There are two restroom facilities and a water bottle refilling station at nearby Hulupoe Bay. These are the only restrooms at any hike we found on Lana’i!
The blue of the water against the red cliffs is almost unbelievable.
More here: Where to Go on Lana’i WITHOUT 4WD

Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach)

There are several ships that have wrecked (intentionally or unintentionally) off shore here, but the most famous and most prominent one is an oil tanker from the 1940s. It’s rusted out and unsalvageable, but it’s also highly visible! All these years later, it’s still upright and home to lots of coral, fish, and other sea creatures. We saw a father and adult son diving here as we approached.

Local divers often come out to see what’s below!

You won’t see the large ship from the end of the “road,” but just start walking along the trail, and you’ll see it looming ahead. The trail is mostly sand, roots, and rock, so be sure to wear good shoes. It’s worth the rocky hike!

You’ll know when you arrive.

Stats

  • Location: End of Keomuku Highway
  • Total Hiking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Round-trip Distance: 3 miles
  • Cost: FREE
  • Parking: Yes
  • Terrain: Sand, rocks, roots
  • Restroom Facilities: No
  • 4WD Necessary: No (Can get closer with 4WD)
Follow the trail, and the ship will come into view!

Tips

  • You can either park your car at the end of Keomuku Highway and walk, or you can drive your 4WD Jeep down the sandy road and park at the end to hike the rest of the way.
  • Bring water! There is very little shade on this hike.
  • Bring food, or come full. There are no restaurants nearby. If you get hungry, you’ll have to go all the way back to Lana’i City.
More than one ship has been sunk here, but this is the most visible from the trail!
More here: The Ultimate List of Hiking Tips

Kealia Kapu-Kaunolu Heritage Trail

This is the one site we almost skipped, but I’m so thankful I didn’t! It’s located at the Kaunolu Village Site, which is a National Historic Landmark. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, and though it’s short, it does require some steep climbing and involves potentially slippery rock, so be careful.

From the top of the trail, you can see Lana’i’s tallest sea cliff.

This is the site of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village (occupied since the 15th century). It was a pu’uohonu, or “place of refuge” under the ancient Hawaiian kapu system. Today, they are the largest surviving ruins in all the Hawaiian islands. King Kamehameha I also built a summer home after conquering Lana’i around 1810, as well as a he’iau, which can still be seen here. Because this is a sacred place, please stay on the well-defined path.

The trail is well-defined.

Stats

  • Location: Kaunolu Bay
  • Total Hiking Time: 25 Minutes
  • Round-trip Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Cost: FREE
  • Parking: Yes
  • Terrain: Rock, cliffside, dirt
  • Restroom Facilities: No
  • 4WD Necessary: Yes
Be on the lookout for petroglyphs as well.

Tips

  • This is the only trail on this list that requires 4WD for access.
  • Don’t be afraid of the off-roading to get here. The Jeep can handle it!
  • Bring water. This is a short hike, but there is very little shade.
  • Bring food, or come full. You’ll have to go all the way back to Lana’i City if you get hungry!
This is the only place on Lana’i where you can see these cliffs and a stunning sea cave.
Read on: The Best Places to Go on Lana’i WITH 4WD

Want more? Check out my dedicated Hawaiian Islands Page for hiking posts about every island we’ve visited!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Welcome to the blog! We do things a little differently around here: no ads, no negativity, and no checked luggage, y'all. My name is Whitney, and Quick Whit Travel Blog is your one-stop shop for all the best travel tips, packing advice, and destination information. Click around or message me on social media @quickwhittravel for more!

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