If you’ve chosen to stay on Maui for your Hawaii vacation then you’ve made an excellent choice. Not only do you have all of gorgeous Maui at your fingertips but you are also in a great position to explore Lanai and Molokai – two of Hawaii’s more secluded islands, just a stone’s throw away.
Maui County consists of four main islands: Maui (of course), Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe. There is also a fifth islet called Molokini which is a uninhabited submerged crater just off the South side of Maui (great for snorkeling around!)
Both Lanai and Molokai are inhabited islands and easily accessible for a visit from the island of Maui either for a day trip or for a short stay. Here’s a bit more information on these two islands, so you can decide if you’d like to take a trip to these secluded spots.
Lanai is the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii with only around 3000 people living there. It is therefore often aptly referred to as The Private Isle. You may also hear it called The Pineapple Isle as a large percentage of the world’s pineapples used to be grown here.
You can find both luxury and seclusion on this stunning island which boasts world class resorts but also your fair share of unpaved rugged backroads. This is the perfect place to be pampered in peace.
Travel to Lanai – How do you get to Lanai from Maui?
There is a passenger ferry which leaves from Pioneer Inn, Lahaina, Maui and takes around 45 minutes – 1 hour to cross the Auau Channel to Manele Small Boat Harbor in Lanai. There are 5 ferry trips daily.
Alternatively, flights are available from Kahului, Maui [OGG] to Lanai Airport [LNY]. If you are visiting Lanai from another Hawaiian island then flying may be the simplest option.
Lanai Activities – What is there to do in Lanai?
Hulopoe Bay: Take a trip to this beautiful sandy beach for snorkeling, swimming or surfing. Spinner Dolphins have been known to hang out here, and the bay boasts one of the healthiest reefs in Maui County. This is the only beach in Lanai which has facilities.
Lanai City: This is where you’ll find most of Lanai’s inhabitants. You can grab some lunch at one of the quaint cafes or restaurants and browse the shops in Lanai City.
Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods): Take a jeep and follow the earthy red track roads to Keahiakawelo, otherwise known as the Garden of the Gods. Here you’ll find a garden of boulders of differing sizes, shapes and colors which make for a lunar like appearance. Fun to photograph, especially in the light of the early morning hours!
Shipwreck Beach: Not a beach for swimming but a fun place to explore. This wild and beautiful beach gets its name from the remains of a World War II Liberty Ship marooned to a reef just off shore.
Lanai Accommodation – Where should I stay in Lanai?
You can do Lanai in a day if you wish to save on accommodation. However, to really soak up the peaceful atmosphere of The Private Isle you may like to consider staying for 2-3 nights.
Four Seasons: (formally Manele Bay Hotel). This is the luxurious option which you won’t be disappointed with. There is also its sister hotel: The Lodge at Koele, which is currently undergoing a renovation.
Hotel Lanai: A more simple Hawaiian option but still a popular choice for those wishing to experience the peace of Lanai.
Alternatively, try renting a place through Airbnb or book a room in a bed and breakfast.
Quiet, rural and Hawaiian, Molokai is not your typical tourist destination.
If you travel to Molokai then you are choosing to experience Hawaii prior to the resorts, shopping malls and 5 star restaurants. Instead, you’ll find deserted beaches, quiet roads and a lot of natural beauty.
It is known as the friendly isle because of the genuine aloha which exists between the laid back inhabitants of this island. That is, along as you stay off their private property and don’t try to build a hotel resort. Molokai inhabitants are admirably passionate about protecting the peace and natural beauty of the old Hawaii you will find in Molokai.
Travel to Molokai – How do you get to Molokai from Maui?
There is no longer a ferry service operating between Maui and Molokai, and so the only way to visit is by air travel. Flights go several times a day from Kahului, Maui [OGG] to Molokai Airport [MKK] via Mokulele Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
You can also get flights from Lanai to Molokai, as well as from Honolulu.
Molokai Activities – What is there to do in Molokai?
Kaunakakai: Start by visiting the central town of Kaunakakai, an old cowboy town where you’ll find a selection of restaurants and stores to browse. Here, you can experience the islands main harbor and take a walk down the state’s longest pier.
Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove: Be sure to visit the nearby Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove. This royal coconut grove was planted for King Kamehameha V in the 1860s, and you can still view several hundred coco palms from the original thousand plus which were planted. Head to Kiowea Beach Park afterwards to watch the sunset or have a picnic.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park: Once a place of suffering and exile, Kalaupapa was the site of a former leprosy colony. Take the tour and hear about the lives and histories of the patients as well as the admirable work of Father Damien and others who committed their lives to working with these isolated patients. Getting to the Peninsula to take the tour is an adventure in itself – you’ll need to fly, hike in or book a horseback ride!
Halawa Valley: If you’re after natural beauty then book a guided tour around Halawa Valley, which features two beautiful waterfalls: Hipuapua (500 ft) and Mooula Falls (250 ft)
Alternatively, you can book a helicopter tour and see these stunning falls from above.
Molokai Accommodation – Where should you stay in Molokai?
If you’re making the effort to fly to Molokai then you’ll want to spend a couple of days there to soak up this tranquil island. There are no resorts in Molokai but there are various beach cottages or condos you can book for a bit of peace and quiet away from it all.
Have you visited Lanai or Molokai? Let us know your favorite spots, in the comments section.