By AMANDA BLAKLEY
The state of Hawaii is hardly an undiscovered travel destination. In fact, the islands are flooded with more than nine million tourists every year trying to etch out a small parcel of sand for sipping mai tais. But there is still one quiet island that has not (yet) been inundated with fellow travelers trying to soak up magic: For those who are always on the lookout for up-and-coming hot spots, Lanai island will not disappoint.
Lanai island is located jus a handful of miles off the shores of Maui and was known for years as “Pineapple Island,” thanks to its long reign as Dole’s primary pineapple farming operation. These days, though, tourism is the top industry for Lanai island.
Still, though travel and tourism is now a top priority for the island, crowds are still way less abundant here than they are on Hawaii’s other islands. But, with just as much (if not more) fun and relaxation to be had, and the recent opening of highly anticipated all-inclusive wellness resort concept, The Four Seasons Koele, the secret may soon get out. In case you need more convincing as to why Lanai island deserves a spot on your travel bucket list, check out the guide below.
Even if you don’t hit the links, a long lunch at this vista-heavy restaurant at the Manele Golf Course is still a great idea. Photo-ready backdrops greet you from every direction, while the Pacific Rim cuisine hits the perfect mid-day note.
This beloved neighborhood gem always draws a crowd for chef Joel Harrington’s “global cuisine with an island fork” and the live music. Happy hour is always a great time to stop in and have a few snacks—and if things get carried away? Stay on for dinner.
The popular pier-set restaurant from Malibu, California, has popped up on the shores of Lanai island in all its coastal cottage glory, serving up classic and colorful seafood-forward dishes. Go for lunch or sunset drinks and snacks.
This small grocer and café is a total island institution serving up delicious poke bowls alongside souvenir tees and shell jewelry.
The outpost of this cult-beloved restaurant by star chef Nobu Matsuhisa is a magnet for visiting VIPs and sushi lovers alike. Beyond the all-star Japanese dishes turned out from the open kitchen, the view of Hulopoe Bay is can’t-miss. If you’re in the mood for an omakase meal, request a seat at the bar. Otherwise the cliffside terrace gives major best-seat-in-the-house vibes.
if you’re craving a bold cabernet and an opportunity to taste some of the island’s famous venison, this elegant oceanside restaurant, serving American steak and Hawaiian seafood, will definitely hit the spot.
Where to have healthy fun
Keahiakawelo is a mysterious natural rock garden on a peaceful plot of land along the northwest side of the island. While not the easiest to reach (you’re going to want to rent a bike for the ride), it’s definitely a must on any Lanai island itinerary. The lunar landscape is full of Hawaiian lore.
Not to be confused with goat yoga, this practice ($100 per session) happens alongside the horses as they roam freely in their field. There’s something about these majestic animals that provide a loving and peaceful energy to the groups who practice alongside them.
Curious about horseback yoga? Check out the video below.
Rather than the ship remains themselves being the draw here (though they certainly are interesting and unique), go for the pristine stretch of sand and the crystal-clear water that gently laps onto its mostly empty shores. Sea turtles abound here—and if you’re lucky, you may get a whale spotting, too.
If you find yourself idle and inspired during your time on Lanai island, you’ll want to pay a visit to the Lanai Art Center for an “Introduction to Ceramics” course. The community-run art center is a welcomed beacon for island families and visitors alike that offers an affordable annual membership and access to an array of art instruction in various mediums.
There is a reason the Lanai Cat Sanctuary is a popular to-do list item to complete during visits to the island. The Sanctuary was founded 10 years ago as a haven to keep the island’s homeless cats safe from endangered ground-nesting sea birds. Today, visitors can enjoy spending time with any or all of the feline residents while contributing needed funds to the facility.
Where to stay
If you’re after a remote, luxurious island hideaway, The Four Seasons Resort Lanai hits the mark, to say the least. With a fanatical attention to detail, comfortable quarters adorned with warm Hawaiian minimalist touches, and idyllic ocean breezes and views, your stay will be steeped in vibes both relaxing and restorative. On-site experience managers help each guest curate their perfect daily itinerary, hitting just the right note of adventure and chill: Think exploring, then pampering, and then mouth-watering culinary experiences.
Room rates start at $1,150.
With only 11 rooms, Hotel Lanai offers guests an insider’s retreat from which to explore the island. Each room is uniquely furnished and appointed, celebrating the bountiful natural elements of Lanai. While it isn’t directly on the beach, the property is a short walk into town.
Room rates start at $400.