If you’re looking for a getaway where the beaches are uncrowded and a tranquil natural paradise surrounds you, look no further than Lanai. The smallest of the inhibited Hawaiian islands, Lanai is home to around 3,000 residents who know a good thing when they find it. Lanai has it all: untouched coastlines, two world class golf courses, scenic hiking trails, stunning scuba diving sites, two incredible Four Seasons resorts that are currently undergoing extensive renovations, and some of the most gorgeous topography in the world. The only thing Lanai doesn’t have? Stop signs. With only 30 miles of paved roads, visitors to Lanai are truly on island time, and there’s no need to rush. Below are 7 ways to take in Lanai like a local—because we want your vacation to be an authentic experience of our beautiful islands. Also be sure to check out our post on the Top 10 Scenic Wonders of Lanai. We doubt you’ll be able to resist booking a few days in Lanai, so be sure to hop on over to Island Air and book a convenient, direct flight from Maui or Honolulu. Fair warning: you might not want to leave Lanai and head back to the “real world” any time soon.
1. Eat Fresh at Lana’i Ohana Poke Market
No trip to Hawaii is complete without some poke, a Hawaiian specialty of freshly caught raw fish salad. Locals and visitors alike agree that the best spot for poke in Lanai—and maybe in all of Hawaii—is at the Lana’i Ohana Poke Market. Come early before the fish sells out, and you’ll enjoy a delicious poke bowl served over rice with flavorful sauces. This unpretentious spot spots a laid back picnic table vibe, so you can stop by on your way to the beach. From spicy ahi tuna poke to delectable coconut shrimp, you’ll want to come to this market more than once.
2. Shop Local at Dole Park Farmers Market
Centrally located in Dole Park, this Saturday morning farmers market is foodie paradise. Come early to beat the crowds, and be sure to check out the awesome selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s also a great assortment of homemade goods here, from fresh jams to pineapple salsa and more. Whether you’re packing a picnic for the beach or looking for some unique souvenirs to take home with you, the Dole Park Farmers Market is a can’t miss Saturday activity. This past July Island Air was representing with a booth during the Pineapple Festival, giving away airfare and accommodations at the Sheraton Waikiki to two lucky winners!
3. Walk Secluded Polihua Beach
Accessible only by 4-wheel drive, Polihua is the longest white sand beach in Lanai, stretching along the coastline for 1.5 miles on the northwest side of the island. Polihua has a great view to Molokai across the channel. Meaning “nest egg,” Polihua is named after the sea turtles that like to lay their eggs here. It’s also a great spot to whale watch from in the winter, when humpbacks tend to come very close to shore. While this isn’t a recommended swimming beach, the pristine beauty and wildlife habitat of Polihua make this well worth the Jeep ride.
4. Bike Around Lanai
Traversing Lanai by bike is a great way to enjoy the stunning natural scenery and the sites of pineapple plantations steeped in the island’s history. Rent a mountain bike through Adventure Lanai so you can easily access the many dirt roads around the island. Check out a trail map here.
5. Perk Up at Coffee Works
A converted old house, Coffee Works is a great place to score a local favorite brew. Stay and relax over a cup of kona or macadamia nut blend for a true island experience. Coffee Works also ships internationally, in case you discover your next favorite bean here.
6. Stay at the Hotel Lanai
Built by John Dole in 1923 as lodging for plantation workers, the Hotel Lanai is a sweet little inn steeped in history. It’s a good alternative to the Four Seasons resorts if you’re looking for something more laid back and affordable.
7. Camp on the Beach
Of course, to really live like a local in Lanai, you’ll opt for camping on the beach. The mild weather and plentiful picnic tables at the Hulopoe Beach camp ground make it a great option for outdoorsy types who favor sleeping under the stars.
From the unique natural wonders of Lanai to its laid back coffee shops and markets, there’s plenty to experience in Hawaii’s most charming secluded island.