Lanai’s many landscapes invite exploration. The dense upcountry forests, red lava cliffs, rocky hiking trails and smooth beaches showcase the island’s beauty and geological diversity, which accompany dramatic changes in climate and elevation.

During the 20-minute drive from Hulopoe Beach to Lanai City, which sits at roughly 1,700 feet (518 metres), you’ll feel the air cool and see different forms of vegetation. Such rapid shifts in landscape compel many visitors to hit the road to explore – on foot, horseback or by 4x4.

There’s no single right way to discover Lanai, but some of the island’s top attractions call for certain types of adventures. Follow this guide to find yours.

Off-road excursions

Set out on your own or follow a guide in a 4x4 vehicle to traverse the island’s dirt roads and seldom-travelled paths. Many of the Lanai’s notable attractions are accessible only by four-wheel drive, so those wishing to explore various sites should consider renting a vehicle for the duration of their stay. The eastern terrain offers many off-road diversions, including Keomoku Village and Kahalepalaoa Beach, whose waters are home to many humpback whales.

THE ULTIMATE OFF-ROAD ADVENTURE: From Lanai City, head north towards heritage site and scenic outlook of Keahiakawelo, translated as 'the fire made by Kawelo.' The rocky moonscape known as Garden of the Gods is one of the most storied places on Lanai. From there, drive about 40 minutes to Polihua Beach on the island’s northwestern shore. This wide, secluded stretch of soft sand is a favourite spot for Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Lanai by Horseback

The wooded upland region is home to deer, pheasant, sheep, turkey and other mountain wildlife, which is best spotted during a guided trail ride. Just north of Lanai City, you’ll find a series of trails offering views of the Pacific Ocean and the neighbouring islands of Maui and Molokai.

THE ULTIMATE HORSEBACK-RIDING ADVENTURE: Beginners should saddle up for a 90-minute guided ride along the forested Koele trail, which culminates in gorgeous vistas. More experienced riders can follow the Paniolo Trail through groves of guava and ironwood trees.

Take a Hike

Venture out on foot to discover some of the island’s unique features, including the petroglyphs at Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach) and the scenic lookout point at Koloiki Ridge. You can reach Kaiolohia by 4x4 and hike the 8-mile (13-kilometre) shoreline, or follow the rocky path inland to see ancient petroglyphs. Hikers looking for a more intense trail should set out on Koloiki Ridge. This well-marked, 5-mile (8-kilometre) path converges with one of the most scenic spots on the famous Munro Trail and bisects a thick grove of Cook pines known as the “Cathedral of Trees.”

THE ULTIMATE HIKING ADVENTURE: Short but breathtaking, the trail to Puupehe, or Sweetheart Rock, takes you along the stony cliff overlooking Hulopoe Bay. Best of all, the path is within walking distance of the Resort.