If you like big, wide, empty, gold-sand beaches and crystal-clear, cobalt-blue water full of bright tropical fish—and who doesn’t?— Lanai is your place. With 18 miles of sandy shoreline, Lanai has some of Hawaii’s least crowded and most interesting beaches.
Hulopoe Beach ★★★
Hulopoe is one of the loveliest beaches in all of Hawaii. Palm-fringed golden sand is bordered by black-lava fingers, which protect swimmers from ocean currents. The bay at the foot of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai is a protected marine preserve, with schools of colorful fish, spinner dolphins, and humpback whales that cruise by in winter and often stop to put on a show. The water is perfect for snorkeling, swimming, or just lolling about; the water temperature is usually in the mid-70s (mid-20s Celsius). Swells kick up slightly in winter. Hulopoe is also Lanai’s premier beach park, with a grassy lawn, picnic tables, barbecue grills, restrooms, showers, and ample parking. You can camp here, too.
Hulopoe’s Tide Pools ★★
Some of the best tide pools in Hawaii are found along the south shore of Hulopoe Bay. These submerged pockets of lava rock are full of strange creatures such as asteroids (sea stars) and holothurians (sea cucumbers), not to mention spaghetti worms, barber pole shrimp, and Hawaii’s favorite local delicacy, the opihi, a tasty morsel also known as the limpet. Youngsters enjoy swimming in the enlarged tide pool at the eastern edge of the bay. A few tips: When you explore tide pools, do so at low tide. Never turn your back on the waves. Wear tennis shoes or reef walkers, as wet rocks are slippery. Collecting specimens in this marine preserve is forbidden, so don’t take any souvenirs home.
Polihua Beach ★
According to legend, a mythical sea turtle once hauled herself out of the water to lay her eggs in the deep sand at Polihua, or “egg nest.” This deserted beach lies at the end of Polihua Road, a 4-mile jeep trail. When it isn’t windy, this huge, empty stretch on Lanai’s northwestern shore is ideal for beachcombing, fishing, or indulging fantasies of being marooned on a desert island. When the wind is blowing, beware—you’ll be sandblasted. Look for treasures in the flotsam and (during winter months) whales on the horizon. There are no facilities except fishermen’s huts and driftwood shelters. Bring water and sunscreen. Strong currents and undertow make the water unsafe for swimming.
Shipwreck Beach ★★
This 8-mile-long windswept strand on Lanai’s northeastern shore—named for the rusty ship Liberty stuck on the coral reef—is a sailor’s nightmare and a beachcomber’s dream. The strong currents yield all sorts of sea debris, from hand-blown glass fishing floats and paper nautilus shells to lots of junk. Shipwreck isn’t good for swimming, but is a great place to spot whales from December to April, when Hawaiian humpbacks cruise in from Alaska. The road to the beach is paved most of the way, but you really need a four-wheel-drive to get down here. At the end of the road, you’ll find a trail that leads about 200 yards inland to the Kukui Point petroglyphs; follow the stacked rock ahu (altars) to the large boulders. Respect this historic site by not adding anything to it or taking anything away. Most important, do not touch the petroglyphs.
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.