Garden of the Gods
This barren expanse of red earth is strewn with boulders and strange, sculptural lava formations. It sits a forty-five minute drive from Lanai, on the northwest side of the island, and local legend says the otherworldly terrain is the result of a competition between two kahunas. Note that the area is accessible only by a four-wheel drive car.
With two championship 18-hole golf courses - the Experience at Koele and the Challenge at Four Seasons Lanai - the island draws legendary golfers all year round. Both courses are challenging and have stunning, but very different landscapes.
There are numerous trails on the island, from those that wind along the cliffs near the Manele Bay to the Munro trail, a twelve-mile dirt road that leads up to the highest lookout point on the island and offers views of Maui, Molokai, Kona and Oahu on a clear day.
Two excellent trails to consider for a first-time visit:
Holoiki Trail: This easy, five-mile hike starts right behind the Lodge at Koele (near the golf course clubhouse) and winds through beautiful forests filled with ironwood, eucalyptus and ginger trees. Unexpected, as there is hardly any incline, it opens up into incredible views at the top. When it’s clear, you can see Molokai and Maui. It’s not a loop, so you backtrack along the same path. Plan about 2 hours for the hike, and if you walk back into Lanai City, add another 15 minutes.
Kapihaa Trail Hike (Fishermen's Trail): Once used by the ancient Hawaiians, this trail meanders along the coastline for the most part, making it a flat and appealing options for a light walk/hike. It starts right by the Four Seasons Resort Lanai and passes by the ruins of an ancient village and a large blowhole. The end is a bit of a climb up to the clubhouse of the golf course, where you can stop for lunch at Views at Manele. Tip: Set out early or later in the afternoon, as there is no shade along this hike and the rocky surfaces heat up midday.
The island’s stables offer trail rides as well as lessons with wranglers or private rides. Some of the staff are excellent ropers and know Hawaii’s ranch traditions well.
The sweetly named Lanai City, where most locals live, comprises just a few streets of residences and small businesses. The hub for visitors is the couple of blocks around Dole Park, where you can refuel at Coffee Works, grab lunch at Blue Ginger Café, watch longtime resident artist Mike Carrol in this colorful gallery. The vibe here is super laid-back – you immediately fantasize about renting a room at the quaint Lanai hotel and getting started on that novel you’ve had in your head for years — and it’s a great place to mingle with locals. Once the Lodge at Koele is open again, guests there can walk into the “city,” which takes about 15 minutes.