Maui is my second home – I’ll always be thankful to my dad for growing up there. Yet, it took me 24 years to visit Lanai, as absurd as that sounds. I’m not even sure if some of my relatives in Maui have even visited the island.
Lanai is a tiny island off the coast of Maui – and an insanely gorgeous one at that. It’s ideal for those who want peace and quiet away from people (my jam). You don’t come to Lanai looking for nightlife – you come for the scenic views and serene nature. There isn’t a single traffic light on the island, and locals like it that way. It’s only 9 miles from Maui via ferry (for a very cheap price), but the island is seemingly split into two parts: luxurious resorts versus rugged dirt roads you can explore in a 4WD vehicle (which I sadly didn’t do, being alone). Only 30 miles of Lanai’s roads are paved.
I stuck to Hulupoe Bay since it was nearest to the ferry, and also where I saw spinner dolphins in all their glory. I attempted to make it into Lanai town via shuttle bus, but that required a very intense 30-minute walk up a steep hill just to get to Four Seasons Resort to inquire about the bus, and they informed me it was only every two hours. So much for that.
I should be careful about posting my gallivanting-with-dolphins experience, since I don’t want to get an after-the-fact $25,000 fine. To be fair, I had no idea this was off-limits until I saw the sign when leaving the beach. I just followed a group of extremely friendly Japanese tourists who guided me to the dolphins, and the rest is heavenly.
This is what it felt like to be snorkeling among 30+ Hawaiian bottle-nosed spinner dolphins in Lanai. They were swarming us, most likely since they were curious and probably thought we were going to feed them. I’ve never been up close to so many dolphins in my life. Their sonic calls were like harmonized medleys echoing throughout the ocean.
I also hiked Sweetheart Rock (Puu Pehe), standing 80 ft. tall and well worth the views. Set against red rocks and cliffs, it’s named after the sorrowful legend of two Hawaiian lovers. It definitely bore resemblance to things I’ve seen in Australia and New Zealand – almost like a miniscule version of The Great Ocean Road.
Lanai, you’re stunning. I can’t wait to visit you again.