Because Lanai lacks major development, it has Hawaii’s best water clarity. It also has low rainfall and runoff, and its coast is washed clean daily by the sea current—known as “The Way to Tahiti”. But the strong currents also pose a threat to swimmers, and there are few good surf breaks. Most of the aquatic adventures—swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving—are centered on the somewhat protected south shore, around Hulopoe Bay.
The main watersports outfitter is Trilogy Lanai Ocean Sports (Lanai-based trips: http://scubalanai.com; Maui-to-Lanai trips: http://sailtrilogy.com; tel. 808/874-5649). This Maui-based company has built a well-deserved reputation as the leader in sailing/snorkeling cruises in Hawaii. Trilogy’s superb crew offers daylong snorkeling trips from Maui to Lanai, plus a few Lanai-based excursions. The latter are ideal: less crowded, less expensive, and less time spent en route, all of which adds up to more fun. But because of lack of demand, the Lanai-based trips aren’t always available. Try booking online (for a 10-percent discount) or—your best bet—with the concierges at either Four Seasons resort. They usually know better than the Maui office folks which boats are sailing when.
Sailing & Snorkeling--Trilogy Lanai Ocean Sports offers wonderfully uncrowded morning and afternoon snorkel sailing trips on board its luxury catamarans and 32-foot jet-drive rigid aluminum inflatable vessel. Cruises along Lanai’s protected coastline sail past hundreds of spinner dolphins and into some of the best snorkeling sites in the world ($189 adults, $142 teens 13–18, and $94 children 3–12). Breakfast and lunch are included, along with sodas, snorkel gear, and instruction.
If you just want to snorkel on your own, Hulopoe is Lanai’s best snorkeling spot. Fish are abundant in the marine-life conservation area. Try the lava-rock points at either end of the beach and around the lava pools.
Scuba Diving--Two of Hawaii’s best-known dive spots are found in Lanai’s clear waters, just off the south shore: Cathedrals I and II, so named because the sun lights up an underwater grotto like a magnificent church. Trilogy Lanai Ocean Sports offers its version of “sunrise services” at Cathedrals—not only is dawn the best time of day to dive this incredible area, but no other dive boats are here this early. For repeat guests, the captain has a dozen other excellent underwater destinations from which to choose. Divers have extra room to stretch out—trips on the Manele Kai, a 32-foot jet-drive Zodiac, are limited to six certified divers. A two-tank dive costs $212. For the same price, you can also learn to dive off the beach.
Sport Fishing--Spinning Dolphin Charters of Lanai (www.sportfishinglanai.com; tel. 808/565-7676) offers sport-fishing expeditions on Fish-n-Chips, a 36-foot Twin-V boat. It costs $700 for 4 hours for six passengers ($110 for each additional hour), or you can share a boat for $150 each for 4 hours.
Surfing--If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to surf, let instructor and surfing champion Nick Palumbo take you on a four-wheel-drive surfing safari to a secluded surf spot. He’ll have you up and riding the waves in no time. His Lanai Surf School & Surf Safari (www.lanaisurfsafari.com; tel. 808/649-0739) offers 2-hour surf or paddleboarding lessons, which include four-wheel-drive transportation, refreshments, and “a really good time,” for $200 per person, minimum of two guests.
Sunset/Whale-Watching--Trilogy Lanai Ocean Sports offers a 2-hour ocean adventure on its sailing catamaran or jet-drive Zodiac. Cruise past sea cliffs and unspoiled coastline while watching schools of spinner dolphins and flying fish dart ahead of the bow. You’ll arrive at Sweetheart Rock just in time for the best sunset shots. During whale season (Dec–Mar), North Pacific humpback whales put on impressive shows, breaching, slapping their pectoral fins, and singing complex melodies underwater. The captain and crew are certified naturalists who make each trip educational. The cost ($111 adults, $83 teens 13–18, and $55 children 3–12) includes soft drinks and snacks.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.