The Ultimate Lana’i Bucket List

Sometimes you find a place that just doesn’t meet your expectations. It exceeds them! Steve and I didn’t know exactly what to expect on our trip to Lana’i, but what we found was fun, adventure, beauty, and a lot of off-roading! For anyone considering adding Lana’i to their “must-go” list, I think that’s a great idea. Here are our top 10 favorite things to do when you go!

10. Visit the Lana’i Cat Sanctuary

Are you a cat person? This is for you! Even if you’re merely indifferent, this is a fun place to spend a couple of hours on the island. The cats are so funny, and the sanctuary exists to not only to give the cats a home, but to also protect the native birds. Visiting is FREE, and if you find a cat you love, you can adopt it! Can’t take it home with you? You also have the opportunity to “adopt in place,” meaning you pay for its care each month. Try not to fall in love with all of them. I dare you!

This one came to say hi before we could even take off our masks!
Get a sneak peek: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Lana’i Cat Sanctuary

9. Go Off-roading

If you want to see the most of what Lana’i has to offer, you’ll want to spring for it! Lana’i only has 30 miles of paved roads, no stoplights, and speedlimits top out at 45 mph. As with most locations, the real adventure begins where the blacktop ends. How often do you get to have a gigantic beach in Hawaii, like Polihua pictured below, all to yourself? Just do a little research about how to drive a 4-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle if you’ve never done it before.

If you want to see the most on the island, including secluded Polihua Beach, you’ll want to spring for a Jeep!
Essential info: Everything You Need to Know about Renting a Car on Lana’i

8. Relax on Manele Bay

Want a beach that doesn’t require 4WD? Manele Bay is for you! The beach is large, the water is clear, and you’re just a short walk away from one of the most iconic sites on Lana’i: Pu’upehe (Sweetheart Rock). There’s plenty of paved parking here, two bathrooms, a water refilling station, and lots of fish to see down below with a snorkel and some fins!

Anele Bay is perfectly appointed!

7. Grab a Macadamia Nut Latte at Coffee Works

You know I had to put a coffee shop on this list! Lana’i’s own Coffee Works was voted one of the 5 best coffee shops in all of Hawaii, so you simply have to stop by. Whether you want yours hot or iced, serious coffee or a fun flavor, latte or black, you’ll find just the right coffee (or gigantic pastry!) here to fuel your adventures.

Macadamia Nut Latte for anyone?
Keep eating: Where to Eat on Lana’i

6. Visit the Lana’i Culture and Heritage Center

This was a delightful surprise! We spent well over an hour in here, and Diane at the museum kindly chatted with us and answered all our questions. It’s a perfect way to start your trip, or to spend a rainy day if you have one on your trip. During the Pandemic, you’ll need to e-mail to make your appointment, but the museum is FREE, and it’s a great place to find out everything you want to know about Lana’i. We recommend it!

Don’t miss the Culture and Heritage Center!
Bookmark this: How to Plan a Trip to Lana’i

5. Find Shipwreck Beach

The nice thing about this is that you can go here with or without 4WD! If you’re up for walking on sand about four miles round-trip, you can park at the end of the paved road and walk here, or if you have a Jeep, you can drive it! Either way, it’s a beautiful place to spend a couple of hours. There are several ship wrecks here, but the most prominent one will come into view and look like it’s still floating on the water. Check it out!

It’s worth the trek to see it for yourself!
More here: The Best Places to Go on Lana’i WITH 4WD

4. Shop Local in Lana’i City

Do you love supporting local businesses as much as I do when you travel? This is one of my favorite things about Lana’i–every business is a small business! With the exception of the Four Seasons properties, you won’t find any chain stores or restaurants, making it easy to shop small! I love that not only are these businesses local, they also support other local artisans and small businesses. We found Ni’ihau jewelry, bath products made right there on Lana’i, and beautiful artwork painted by locals as well.

You’ll only find local shops in Lana’i City!
Get all the info: What to See and Do in Lana’i City

3. Hike the Koloiki Ridge Trail

Ask the locals where to hike, and you’ll certainly hear about this one: Koloiki Ridge. The trail itself is a fairly easy hike, and the views are more and more stunning as you get closer to the end of the trail. The real reward is the lookout to see Maunalei, which is a beautiful, historic, lush gorge that’s larger than life. Don’t miss it!

You won’t want to miss the view of Maunalei from this trail.
More here: Hiking Hawaii: Lana’i

2. Hike Pu’upehe (Sweetheart Rock)

Want a short hike with iconic photo-ops? Check out Pu’upehe, also called Sweetheart Rock. It’s only a short walk from the aforementioned Manele Bay, and just one mile round-trip. It’s steeped in Hawaiian lore, and you can’t help but take incredible photos here with the dramatic, red cliffs jutting up from the crystal-clear, blue water.

It’s the perfect place to explore with your sweetheart!
Must read: The Best Places to Go on Lana’i WITHOUT 4WD

1. Get a Glimpse from Kehekili’s Leap

Wow! All I can say is that this view was worth the off-roading to get here, even on an overcast day. It’s a bit of a climb, but Kehekili’s Leap, located at the Kaunolu Historic Village Site, is the definition of epic. Through that opening, not only are you seeing water that’s an unbelievable shade of blue, not only are you seeing gorgeous cliffs, you’re also looking at Lana’i’s tallest sea cliff!

There’s only one way to get this view… with 4WD and a hike.
For my fellow history buffs: Hawaii for History Lovers

Want more about Lana’i or anywhere else in Hawaii? Check out my dedicated Hawaiian Islands Page for everything you need and more!

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