Flying into Lana‘i requires a jump from neighboring Honolulu or Maui. Island Air (800/652-6541) operates turboprop planes with four flights between Honolulu (HNL) and Lana‘i (LNY) on weekdays and five flights on weekends. Island Air also flies to Lana‘i from Maui, but you’re going to have to make a stopover in Honolulu. Mokulele Airlines (866/260-7070) also offers nonstop service between Honolulu and Lana‘i, with two direct flights per day, and one direct flight every afternoon from Kahului to Lana‘i.

Aerial view of Lana‘i's coastline, past an airplane's landing gear.

It’s hard to find an outdoor playground more stunning than Lana‘i, home to a mere 3,300 residents and crisscrossed by just over 30 miles of paved roads. Photo © Steve Jurvetson, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Don’t be late. This is one ferry that doesn’t wait around.
If you are traveling from Maui, the easiest and most practical way to get to Lana‘i is by taking the Expeditions Ferry (808/661-3756 or 800/695-2624, $30/adult, $20/child one-way), which runs five times daily between Lahaina and Manele harbors. Travel time between the two islands is usually about an hour, and during whale season (December-April), you can frequently spot humpback whales from the outdoor seating of the upper deck. Expeditions can also arrange golf, Jeep, and activity packages at a slight discount if you are planning a Lana‘i day trip from Maui. Although you can buy tickets at the harbor kiosk in Lahaina the morning of your journey, make reservations ahead of time, particularly for the early morning trip. Don’t be late. This is one ferry that doesn’t wait around.

Getting Around Lana‘i

Shuttle

Moving from point A to point B on Lana‘i works a little differently than on the other Hawaiian Islands, and Lana‘i has some options you won’t find elsewhere in the state. In lieu of renting a car, guests at the Four Seasons can pay a one-time fee of $47.50 per adult ($23.75 per child) for all-inclusive access to the resort’s shuttle for the duration of their stay. Resort shuttles run every 30 minutes to destinations such as the harbor, airport, Lana‘i City, and between the two resorts. The shuttle also makes a stop at Hotel Lana‘i, although the one-time shuttle fee for Hotel Lana‘i guests is only $35.

Visitors to the island who aren’t staying at the Four Seasons are still welcome to use the resort shuttle at a cost of $10 per person/trip. If you have made reservations for a Jeep from Dollar Lana‘i Rent a Car, a company shuttle will meet you at the harbor and provide complimentary transportation to the shop in Lana‘i City (20 minutes) for the driver, although all other passengers will be charged $10/person. If you are traveling with a group of four, depending upon your budget, it’s probably a better bet to have three of your party walk five minutes to Hulopo‘e Beach from Manele Harbor while the driver goes “up-city” to procure the Jeep and then comes back down to scoop up the rest of the group.

Rentals

The longest running and most reputable Jeep rental company on the island, Dollar Lana‘i Rent a Car (1036 Lana‘i Ave., 808/565-7227 or 800/JEEP-808, 7am-7pm daily) provides minivans ($129/day), four-wheel-drive Jeeps ($139/day 2dr, $169/day 4dr), and Hummers ($189/day). The company requests that the vehicles be returned by 3:30pm, so if you come over from Maui on the early morning ferry, you will arrive at the harbor by 7:45am, be at the rental car counter by 8:15am, and on your way with your Jeep by no later than 8:45am, thereby giving you more than six hours to explore the island. The rental company provides you with a map of the island and clearly lays out which roads are off limits. If you end up requiring a tow from someplace “out of bounds,” it’s going to cost you $500.

Lana‘i Jeep Rental (808/280-7092) has two Jeep Wranglers ($120/day 2dr, $135/day 4dr) for rent to island visitors. Rather than you taking a shuttle up to Lana‘i City, John will come and meet you at the harbor or the airport and hand over the keys after some basic formalities, so you can get going on your Lana‘i adventure that much quicker. There are no official rules on where you can and cannot go, although he’d prefer you defer to common sense.

808 Hummers (808/286-9308, 8am-8pm, $199/day) has a fleet of the famous off-road vehicles which are perfectly suited for Lana‘i’s rugged terrain. The company will arrange to pick you up.

Hawaii Western Adventures (1 Keomuku Hwy., 808/563-9385) operates guided UTV tours from its scenic Koele headquarters where you can either navigate your own vehicle or enjoy a leisurely, guide-driven expedition in vehicles which can hold up to six people. Choose from either a 1-hour scenic ride through the uplands ($75), or a 1.5-hour ($100) or 3-hour ($200) foray onto the Munro Trail.

Getting Gas on Lana‘i

There is only one station on the entire island: The Lana‘i City Service station (1036 Lana‘i Ave., 808/565-7227, 6:30am-10pm daily) supplies fuel for all 3,300 residents. Don’t worry about the price; you’re better off just not looking (often $1-1.50 more per gallon than on Maui). Then again, with only 30 miles of paved roads here, it isn’t uncommon for a tank of gas to last a month or more.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.