We just returned from a weeklong couples’ trip to Hawai’i… and it was the absolute best!! This was my first time ever visiting Hawai’i because getting there from Florida (where I grew up) is an incredible endeavor and, of course, super expensive. Because of this, most Floridians just opt to visit the (much more accessible & affordable) Caribbean instead. 😂 Needless to say, this trip was such an incredible treat!
At the beginning of our trip, we spent two full days (and nights!) on Maui where we crammed as many adventures in as we possibly could and then made our way over to the neighboring island of Lana’i for the remainder of our trip for maximum relaxation. It was the most chill and fun vacation that I didn’t realize that I needed.
Keep reading for all of my tips and recommendations for Lana’i!
(Buckle up, this is gonna be a long post! Don’t say I didn’t warn you… 😜 )
Monday — 1/20
Starting back up where we left off from my Maui Travel Diary, we had just hopped on the last passenger-only ferry from Lahaina, Maui to Manele Bay, Lana’i.
The ferry ride was a bit tumultuous toward the second half of the journey between the two islands so if you are prone to seasickness, I recommend (1) sitting outside if the weather permits (breathing fresh air and keeping your eyes on the horizon will help!), (2) sipping ginger tea before and / or during the trip, (3) take Dramamine (or something similar) 30 min before the boat departs. I was lucky enough not to experience any seasickness on this trip, but I could totally understand how people may feel a bit… sloshy… throughout the ride.
The sun was setting by the time we arrived in Lana’i, so we didn’t get to see much when we got there, but it was fun to watch the sun set on the ride over. If you’re visiting the Hawai’ian islands between January and March you’ll probably also see a few whales while on the ferry, so keep your eyes peeled!
We ended up visiting Lana’i mostly because my husband’s colleague graciously invited us to use his villa there, which is adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort. He also allowed us to use his vehicle, which had thoughtfully been left for us in the marina parking lot. Because we had arrived to Lana’i at sunset we ended up having to navigate unfamiliar territory to the villa in the dark, but we made it. 😂 We dropped our belongings off and then made our way over to the resort to get a bite to eat at The Break before they closed (which was very tasty, but honestly, we were so tired from getting up early for our adventures on Maui that literally anything would have tasted great at that point… LOL).
I was blown away by the amount of space we had in this borrowed villa! Plenty of space and amenities indoors: two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, a full laundry room, a HUGE kitchen and living room, as well as a generous outdoor patio space with a large table and chairs, a built-in grill, an outdoor shower, etc. — it was above and beyond our expectations!! We did a quick Zillow search of the area and oh boy are those villas expensive! 😳 We felt SO fortunate to be able to stay in that beautiful space for a whole week!!! (If you are able to find one of these private villas available on AirBnB or on a similar service, I definitely recommend booking it!!!)
Because we didn’t stay onsite at the Four Seasons Lana’i I can’t speak to the quality of their rooms, but because we utilized the resort’s amenities, engaged with many helpful employees, and enjoyed delicious meals at the various restaurants, I can say with absolute certainty that staying at the resort would totally be worth the cost. We absolutely loved our time there and it was such an easy and luxurious experience.
Tuesday — 1/21
We woke up to the prettiest sunrise (actually, all of the sunrises were pretty amazing if I’m being completely honest…). This was the view of Hulopo’e Bay from the villa’s back patio; absolute paradise.
Our borrowed villa was slightly offset from the main Four Seasons property, but still close enough that we were able to easily walk over to enjoy the amenities.
*Please note that we were permitted to use the resort’s amenities because we had been “sponsored” by our host and we paid a weekly rate to access them — the resort also had laminated ID cards made with our photos on them to present to FS employees that we would encounter around the pool, down at the beach, etc. to prove that we had permission to be there!
We quickly got ready and drove our host’s vehicle to the little town of Lana’i City (where all of the locals live) to grab breakfast as well as visit one of the two grocery stores on the island (Richard’s Market or Pine Isle Market) so that we could stock up on provisions. The whole town was absolutely adorable and so quaint!
We ate breakfast at a local favorite, The Blue Ginger Café, and it did NOT disappoint! We enjoyed it so much that we visited again later on in the week! 😅
The homemade pastries were a HUGE hit! You would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you left the café without trying at least one or two of these delicious treats.
I ordered the SPAM omelette with a side of fried rice (because “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, right? :P)
You guys — IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. I ate every bite! I think SPAM has gotten a bad rap because on the mainland no one knows how to cook it properly! I wouldn’t necessarily add it to my regular diet, but I absolutely recommend giving SPAM a try while you are in Hawai’i (another favorite Hawaiian food item: SPAM musubi — try it!).
After breakfast, we popped over to a little boutique called The Local Gentry, and OMG was their stuff CUTE! I was expecting the usual tacky tourist clothing and gifts, but the quality and style of everything in this shop way exceeded my expectations! We ended up spending a bit of money in there over the course of the week. 🙈😂 I should have taken more photos from inside to share with you, but I was too busy shopping! Lol
We finally made it to the cutest grocery store that I have ever been to. Richard’s Market had everything that we were looking for (which was basically: coffee, milk, snacks, fresh fruit, rum, wine, and beer 🤣 please note the bottom of our cart — LOL!). You know… the essentials. 🙃
After picking up our provisions, we headed back to the villa to unpack our groceries, get into our swimsuits and head for the pool!
We spent the majority of our time in Lana’i lounging in or around the pool… the reclining lounge chairs / shade umbrellas were abundant and the poolside service was wonderful. Each pair of chairs received a complimentary mini keg of ice water and every so often the poolside attendants would walk around to offer complimentary frozen pineapple skewers or mini popsicles (in coconut or mango flavor! I personally loved the coconut ones).
The resort offered beverages poolside (both alcoholic and non), and I think we tried everything on the menu over the course of our stay, but everyone’s favorite was the piña colada! It had the most delicious coconut flavor — moreso than an average piña colada does, so we finally asked the bartender what the secret was and he told us that it’s because they harvest fresh coconut milk daily to use in the drink. SO. YUMMY. I swear I gained 10 lbs. from drinking those all week! 😂
We had dinner at Nobu that night and it was absolutely exceptional. The best part was that everything was a la carte and very sharable, so we ended up trying so many items from the menu… and each dish was better than the last! We still can’t decide which was our favorite meal from the trip: Nobu on Lana’i or Mama’s Fish House on Maui.
We’ll just have to go back to both spots to determine a tie-breaker! 🤣
Wednesday — 1/22
Up with the sunrise, we made our way over to the resort and posted up on lounge chairs that were near the pool, but this time we found some that were facing the ocean.
We had lunch delivered poolside from the resort restaurant Malibu Farm and basically bounced between the hot tubs, the pool, and our lounge chairs all day; it was perfect.
That evening, we went into town to have dinner at the Lana’i City Bar & Grille. The vibe was so different than the experience of the beachfront resort because Lana’i City is more centrally located and there were so many enormous evergreen trees which had been [intentionally] planted across the island; it almost felt like we were in Northern California instead of Hawai’i. Our dinner and drinks were very enjoyable and I would highly recommend this location as an alternative to the resort restaurants.
The servers also let us know that the following night was “Taco Thursday”! Never ones to decline tacos, our group made Thursday night reservations on the way out the door after our meal.
Thursday — 1/23
Our full beach day! As soon as we woke up and had a little breakfast, we made our way down to Hulopo’e Beach just in front of the resort to stake our claim on the Four Seasons’ complimentary lounge chairs and umbrellas that overlook Hulopo’e Bay (we had to present our laminated ID cards to access this service, FYI).
Just like up at the pool, a mini keg of ice water is provided with each pair of chairs / sun umbrella and mostly similar Malibu Farm menu items are available for purchase, with one exception: no alcohol is permitted on the beach. 😭 (It’s an understandable rule, but still unfortunate).
The water was so cool and crystal clear, but not so cool that you were uncomfortably cold… it was very refreshing after sitting in the sun for a while. We had so much fun swimming and enjoying the sunshine while in our lounge chairs on the beach. The sound of the waves crashing on the beach and the gentle breeze were enough to put me to sleep a few times (beach naps are the best, aren’t they? 😊).
I also want to note that the resort offered multiple complimentary [reef-safe] sunscreen stations sprinkled throughout the property, so if you forgot to bring your own or the sunscreen that you brought with you isn’t reef-safe certified, the resort’s got you covered! Be sure to reapply throughout the day as the sun is pretty strong and it’s easy to get a sunburn (speaking from experience here…).
For dinner, we made our way back to the Lana’i City Bar & Grille for Taco Thursday and it was crazy busy in there! We were so glad that we had made reservations the night before. The taco options that night were: fried tofu, grilled chicken, and carne asada, all served with their own preparations, street taco style. The taco portions ended up being pretty small so we underestimated on our initial orders and ended up requesting seconds! 😂 By the time we were able to place our second order the fried tofu tacos were already sold out, so order accordingly (this is not to say that you should over order, but if you’re on the fence about adding one more taco: DO IT!).
Friday — 1/24
The Four Seasons offered so many amazing activities such as snorkeling and sunset sails, so of course we had to partake! We took full advantage of the snorkeling excursion by making a reservation on our first full day in Lana’i, but the sunset sail was booked for the entire time that we were on the island so we’ll have to save that for our next visit. 😉 When Friday morning finally arrived, we woke up early and popped over to the resort’s Guest Services desk to sign our waivers and then made the quick drive over to the harbor by 8am where our [aquatic] ride was waiting for us!
We were motored around the southwest corner of the island to Kaunolu Cove, or “Shark Fin Cove” (thankfully, this nickname comes from a nearby rock formation, not named for the frequent presence of sharks) for our snorkeling experience.
The coral and rock formations within the cove created the perfect natural habitat for so many different varieties of fish and other sea life (we even spotted a small sea turtle!). The scheduled excursion time was for somewhere between 60 – 90 minutes, but the four of us were the only ones out in the water for the entire time… everyone else on the excursion was in and out of the water within what felt like 20 – 30 minutes. 😂 We couldn’t get enough snorkeling (and also wanted to get our money’s worth — lol)! This experience felt like we were essentially swimming inside an aquarium and was truly so amazing. After the snorkeling time was up, we hopped back onto the boat for lunch (complete with an adult beverage each) and zoomed back toward Manele Harbor, keeping our eyes peeled for any possible whale sightings!
(facial imprint from snorkel mask and wet, messy topknot tutorials coming soon 🤣)
After we got dropped off post-snorkeling excursion, we drove straight from the marina to the resort to clock some more pool time… complete with poolside piña coladas and more frozen pineapple skewers!
After a dip in the pool, we cleaned up a bit and headed over to the restaurant at the golf club for lunch, which was appropriately named “Views“. We thoroughly enjoyed our yummy meal (and drinks!) while appreciating the panoramic coastal views from the restaurant terrace. This restaurant is definitely a must-visit if for no other reason than its unique vantage point for photo ops, but the menu is stellar!
… and back to the pool we went. 😂
When we started getting hungry, we headed back over to our villa to make fajitas for dinner (that turned out super yummy!) with the ingredients that we had picked up from the Lana’i City grocery store a few days prior. While we enjoyed our meal we searched for the very appropriate movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” on tv, but couldn’t find it and ended up settling for episodes of House Hunters on HGTV before going to bed. 😂
Saturday — 1/25
On our last full day in Lana’i, we started our day off by driving to Lana’i City for breakfast (I got the SPAM omelette again at The Blue Ginger Café… I couldn’t resist!) and then continued our drive beyond the city limits to explore the northern portion of the island. To be honest, we were a bit nervous that we were going to miss our desired destination because there were multiple turnoffs from the main [UNPAVED] road. If we didn’t need an offroad vehicle for driving the Road to Hana, we certainly would have needed one for this drive to / from the northern coast of the island (and without cell reception, trying to navigate to the correct spot was unclear). You literally just keep driving on the main “road” until it dead ends in a clearing where you can park your vehicle (seen above). 🤣
The location we had driven out of our way for was Shipwreck Beach. The area is appropriately named because the Tradewinds and the ocean swells have caused many a vessel to wreck on its rocky shores. There are actually still remnants of one such ship visible from the shore.
I have heard mixed reviews on the snorkeling here (a few have recommended it, and a few others have advised against it because of sharks!), so just be cautious if you’re considering going out into the water on this side of the island / exploring the wreckage. The area is still worth visiting (on land 😉) because the views are beautiful so there are a lot of photo ops from the beach and a couple of little “hiking” trails to follow if you fancy a little adventure.
After our time at Shipwreck Beach, we drove back into Lana’i City and the town was celebrating Chinese New Year with a little festival so that was a fun surprise! We watched the cultural performances for a while before visiting The Local Gentry one last time and then over to Coffee Works to pick up some fruit smoothies (I’m sure their coffee beverages were AMAZING, but we were all already feeling pretty caffeinated since each of us had had multiple coffees with breakfast 🤪).
We then took our smoothies back to the resort to end our day at the beach. We took advantage of the Four Seasons’ complimentary snorkeling gear rental and did a bit of exploring in Hulopo’e Bay which was amazing! We saw so many beautiful varieties of fish. I am glad that we did the guided snorkeling excursion first because that trip gave us the confidence to go snorkeling in the bay on our own.
After we got done snorkeling we did a little “sun worshiping” to dry off and just soak up every last second of the beach.
We cleaned up and then went to dinner at One Forty, which happened to be the only resort restaurant we hadn’t tried yet. Our meal was delicious and I’d say that it’s definitely worth a visit, but if I had to pick just one restaurant to eat at on the Four Seasons Lana’i property I’d definitely recommend Nobu.
Sunday — 1/26
To catch our flight, we had to take the first ferry of the day back to Maui which meant that we had to be up early (such insult to injury, right?! 😭 ).
As I mentioned previously, the ferry ride gets a little bumpy in some areas that experience high winds, but overall it was a great ride — we sat outside this time on the upper level with a gorgeous vantage point of the ocean and we even saw a whale do a FULL BREACH! It was absolutely amazing and the most appropriate Hawaiian sendoff we could have asked for!
Of course, I had to stop for additional souvenirs from the airport gift shops — these items were for my office and to share with my team (any time someone travels, we bring back a mug to add to our eclectic office collection). Also: Mauna Loas are an absolute MUST — they’re sooooo good! (I couldn’t resist picking up a bag to snack on during the flight home too 😉 haha)
Our visit was absolutely magical and truly the trip of a lifetime. I can’t recommend visiting Hawai’i enough!
Until next time, Hawai’i —