Best Lanai Hikes: The Top-Rated Hiking Trails & Walks

Planning a trekking adventure to Hawaii? Complement the many famous trails around the state, with the best Lanai hikes. Lanai may have some world-class resorts, but it remains a wild and unspoiled place. 

The Hawaiian island features a long list of moderate day hikes. They’ll provide just enough challenge for seasoned hikers while remaining approachable to beginners. Lanai’s incredible coastline is a major character in almost all the hikes. Getting about on foot is also the best way to see the island’s best and most secluded regions.

Ready for the ultimate Lanai hiking adventure? Embark on the best hiking trails in Lanai with this complete guide.

Where to go hiking on Lanai

Puupehe Trail

The Puupehe Trail is one of the easiest hikes in Lanai. But adventurous travelers shouldn’t roll their eyes and move to the next option. In fact, quite the opposite, as the popular hiking trail is steeped in Hawaiian folklore.

Puupehe Trail

Before you embark on the coastal hike, it’ll be handy to know a little bit about its history. Puupehe Trail features Sweetheart Rock. The distinctive rock formation is one of the island’s best natural landmarks.

Legend states that Makakehau from Lanai was so in love with Pehe from Lahaina that he brought her to his island, leaving her in a sea cave under the cliff. One day, the cave flooded, and she drowned. Makakehau buried her atop the rock before diving to his death.

You can begin the easy and family-friendly hike at Hulopoe Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on Lanai. From there, meander around Hulopoe Bay, along the edge of rocky cliffs to epic ocean views.

After passing Shark’s Bay, Sweetheart Rock will come into view. One of the coolest things to see in Lanai, it’s split from the southern coast like a lonely apostle, perfectly fitting the plot that made it famous.

  • Distance: 0.9 miles
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Koloiki Ridge Trail

After a brief warm-up trail, stretch your legs on one of the most beloved Lanai hikes: the Koloiki Ridge Trail. The 5-mile hike has no shortage of beautiful views, whether it’s Lanai’s majestic mountains or the endless ocean. Despite being a popular trail, you’ll still find plenty of solitude.

The hike begins near Lanai City, in the interior of the island. You’ll begin in thick forests laden with Cook Island pine trees. The trail immediately heads up into the hills following a ridgeline, but that’s about all the elevation gain you’ll have. The path then meanders down through the forests, where you may spot lingering deer and even cross an old lava field.

Towards the end, the trees will disperse, making way for a lush meadow, dropping sharply to form the Maunalei Valley. After admiring the deepest crevasse on the island, bask in the ocean views and spot Molokai and Maui across the strait.

  • Distance: 4.2 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Munro Trail

There’s only one spot in Hawaii where you can see all major Hawaiian islands at the same time. That’s from Lanai’s tallest peak, Lanaihale, standing at an altitude of 3,366 feet. If you want to see each island (on a clear day) or feel like summit bagging, then the Munro Trail is the hike for you.

Munro Trail

Starting north of Lanai City, the loop trail is moderate and a dirt road. But at 13 miles long, it’ll take up the majority of your day. It begins through thick groves of Norfolk Island pines, a plant that’s found all over Lanai thanks to the genius of George Munro. Mr. Munro discovered that Norfolk Island pines help produce additional rain. Now the island has an ever-growing forest.

The initial section will get your heart racing. On the steep climb, you’ll gain quick elevation along Lanai’s ancient caldera rim. Two miles from the peak, you’ll enjoy views of the city, the mystical Maunalei Gulch, and Hookio Ridge. It’s a spot many choose to turn around. But for the rest, the peak and its views of Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Maui await.

  • Distance: 12.8 miles
  • Time: 7 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Shipwreck Beach

There are two ways to get to the infamous Shipwreck Beach. A common way is to jump into a four-wheel-drive vehicle and journey along the rough-and-tumble two-mile dirt road. But while your rental may be equipped to travel over the bumpy landscape, some rental agencies don’t allow you to make the drive.

Shipwreck Beach

If that’s the case, then strap on your boots: The trek to the coast is well worth the effort. Unlike some classic trails around Hawaii, you’ll have no trouble following the path. The road is flanked by coastal shrubbery and little shade; bring plenty of water and a broad-brimmed hat.

Along the way, you’ll pass abandoned homes and several viewpoints. Soon the road makes way for the wide expanse of white sand and turquoise blue water.

Off the coast, you’ll spot the rusting Liberty Ship, hovering on the reef like the Black Pearl. You can follow the coast for closer views, with the chance to stumble upon ancient petroglyphs.

  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Kaunolu Trail

The Kaunolu Trail has the most compelling history of all the hiking trails in Lanai. It’ll take you back in time, to when the islands were a part of the Kingdom of Hawaii and showcase some local traditions. It doesn’t hurt that the scenery is also fantastic!

You’ll need a four-wheel drive in order to access the beginning of the trail, which is found on the island’s southeastern corner. After putting the car in park, you’ll venture downhill along the ridge, following a bright red dirt road.

After a brief period, you’ll come across some informative signs that explore the region’s history. You’ll learn about the old Kaunaloa fishing village and also see the ancient ruins. This was a favorite spot for King Kamehameha, who would spend many summers here fishing and hanging in the village.

At the end of the trail, you’ll arrive at a Halulu heiau, a religious temple. The remains of the temple have petroglyphs along with beautiful ocean views.

  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Polihua Trail

The reward of hiking along the Polihua Trail is the final destination: Polihua Beach. The remote, white sand beach is one of the most tranquil spots on the island. At Polihua Beach, you can easily check out from the world and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

The Polihua Trail is yet another of the Lanai hiking trails following a dirt road. The undulating 4-mile trail is only accessible by solid four-wheel-drive vehicles and us mere mortals who use our feet. The beauty of walking is that you get to see everything at a slow pace. It’s the only way to appreciate the trail’s starkly contrasting landscapes.

After departing Lanai City, you’ll wander through an old pineapple plantation before reaching the Garden of the Gods. Far from lush and botanical, the garden is a barren landscape centered around a rock garden. You’ll feel on Mars as you cross the monstrous boulder field, shaped by wind and time and several Hawaiian tales. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the coolest places to see in Lanai.

Soon, you’ll arrive at the gorgeous beach. Grab a camping permit ahead of time and enjoy a quiet night under the stars. 

  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Shark’s Bay

Enveloped by red lava cliffs, Shark’s Bay is like no other place on Lanai. You’ll hike to Polihua for the wide-open spaces, endless white sand, and uninhibited horizon views. But while Shark’s Bay is equally secluded, it’s for a vastly different reason.

Shark’s Bay

Just steps away from one of the most popular beaches on Lanai, Hulopoe Beach, Shark’s Bay is a rugged cove of white sand tucked away from the world. You can reach the bay by hiking along the trail that connects Hulopoe Beach to the neighboring tide pools. Continue on for the bay.

As you sit down on the soft white sand, you’ll be enamored by the cliffs that are hanging above you wherever you look. Jump in for a refreshing swim, but be wary of the currents. Afterward, head to the Puupehe Trail to see Shark’s Bay from above.

  • Distance: <0.5 miles
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Kapihaa Trail

For some of the most balanced hiking in Lanai, head out on the Kapihaa Trail. Commonly known as the Fisherman’s Trail, this is one hike that’s an approachable length, has wonderful scenery, and has plenty of history. It’s also great for kids and even dogs.

You can find the trailhead at Manele Bay, guiding you along the beautiful southern coast. Take in the rugged cliffs leading to breaking waves and endless ocean. Along the way, you’ll come across temple ruin and a series of informative signs that explore the lives of island inhabitants—even before the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Discover what’s called the 800 years of life at Hulopoe, where you’ll come to know about early life on the beach, the housing, and their original tools. It helps to make the Kapihaa Trail more than just a popular hike. Complete the trail later in the day to enjoy a coastal sunset.

  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Pipi Chute

The Pipi Chute is a short hike to a historic section of Manele Bay Harbor. Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, cattle farming and ranching were the biggest industry on the island. But in order to move the cattle, known as pipi in Hawaiian, to Oahu, they were herded down to the shores of Manele Bay, where steamers were waiting off-shore.

In the 1920s, the Pipi Chute was developed on the bay’s south side within the Leinohaunui Cliffs. This would then allow for an easier connection between the cattle and the awaiting ships.

The moderate trail departs from the Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay and will take around an hour to complete.

Aside from seeing the once-abandoned chute, you’ll discover old mortar saltpans embedded in the cliffs. These would collect ocean water, with the salt soon evaporating. This left freshwater for meat drying and treating hides.

From the cliff, hikers will also have spectacular views of Maui and the small island of Kahoolawe.

  • Distance: ≈1 mile
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

Koele Keomuku Trail

In Lanai’s north, the Koele Keomoku Trail is a sparsely trekked path leading to soaring cliffs. It’s a great way to experience some of the island’s rugged side, away from the cozy resorts and short trails.

The trail comes with over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, guiding you through Lanai’s unkempt backcountry to stunning views. It’s somewhat ironic that the trailhead is found near the back of the Sensai Lanai Four Seasons Resort.

The old four-wheel-drive trail continues to erode, making it best for those on foot. The path snakes under dense tropical foliage with the thick canopy providing some respite from the sun.

When the foliage disperses, you’ll find yourself on the edge of a cliff with island views, Shipwreck Beach, and the Pacific laid out before you.

  • Distance: 5.2 miles
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

DISCLAIMER: Treksplorer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its affiliated international sites.

DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that from time to time I link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you purchase anything through these links, I'll receive a commission. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will help keep me trekkin' on and delivering more free (and unsponsored!) travel information to you. Thanks :)