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Lanai Sightseeing

Jeep Trek on Lanai
Best Part of "highway" through Garden of the Gods
Lanai is the least visited of the six major Hawaiian islands.  With only about 30 miles of paved roads on the island, you will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to navigate Lanai's rugged terrain and visit most of the sights below.  Dollar Rent-a-Car rents Jeeps and we reserved one prior to our last visit to Lanai.  We expected a beat-up, dirty Jeep like you might see on a MASH rerun.  Both times we've rented, we were pleasantly surprised that there were a number of Jeeps available, and we even had our choice of color.  The vehicle was clean, well maintained, and a lot of fun to drive.

Lanai City  is located at 1,600 foot elevation almost in the center of the island and most island residents live there.  Old style stores, local style restaurants, and a police station with a wooden jail in the yard appear much as they did many years ago.  Hotel Lanai was built in the 1920's and is still open.  Norfolk pines surround the town.  The island's airport is located about four miles west of town.

Manele Bay Harbor  This is a port for yachts and fishing boats.  It's also the location where Trilogy Ocean Sports departs for snorkel, scuba, and whale watching trips.  An inter-island ferry named Expeditions offers an alternative to flying and crosses between Manele Bay Harbor and Lahaina, Maui multiple times each day.

Garden of the Gods  is located five miles northwest on Kanepuu Road which is a dirt road that should only be traveled during good weather and in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  The wind and erosion have carved stone sculptures from pinnacles and buttes in a wind swept canyon in the open countryside.  

Polihua Beach is located five more very rough miles beyond Garden of the Gods.  This is a beautiful beach but very strong currents are common and swimming can be very dangerous.  The round-trip from Lanai City on dry roads takes about 90 minutes.

Munro Trail  is a seven mile loop ascending through grasslands and traveling through rain forests to the peak of 3,370 foot Mount Lana'ihale.  To follow the trail you will need to rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle and travel time is between two to three hours.  If it has rained recently, the trail shouldn't even be attempted with a 4-wheel drive Jeep.  From the summit, six islands can be seen on a clear day; Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Kahoolawe, the Big Island, and Oahu.

Shipwreck Beach is the graveyard of many ships.  On your way from Lanai City to the beach you descend through very dry landscape.  This side of Lanai receives less than 10 inches of rain each year.  The road to the beach is paved, but the roads to the east and west along the beach are extremely rough, unpaved, and require a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Through the years many shipwrecks occurred along the channel between Lanai and Molokai but the most visible one isn't what it might seem.  After WW II the U.S. Navy attempted to sink a liberty ship in the channel.  However, things didn't go as planned and the ship came to rest on the reef offshore.  It still stands prominently a short distance from shore.  Shipwreck Beach is considered an excellent place for beachcombing and shore fishing but swimming is not recommended and most of the beach we saw was just large rocks.  

Kaunolu Village is located on the southwest shore of Lanai.  It is at the end of a rugged three mile jeep trail which should only be traveled when the trail is dry.  There are deserted homes and other structures which once formed an ancient fishing community.  There is also a Heiau and a place of refuge called Halulu in the area.

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