One thing is certain when visiting Lanai: You’ll want to be sure to bring your camera.
From the mist-shrouded summit of Lanaihale to the sandy Hulopoe shoreline, Lanai is an island where photo opportunities are seemingly around every corner. When visiting Lanai, don’t be surprised if it takes a while to drive the island’s short distances—it’s not unusual to stop every mile and want to capture the moment. It could be a simple, rural Lanai scene, like horses grazing in pastures, or the ship off Kaiolohia better known as Shipwreck Beach, or iconic symbols like legendary Puu Pehe Rock.
While every visitor will have different spots that catch their eye on Lanai, the following are Lanai photo opportunities you definitely don’t want to miss.
Experience Sunset at Kaunolu
Set on the island’s southwestern coast, Kaunolu is one of Lanai’s most storied, historic places. Because of its isolated location, however, down a steep, bumpy dirt road, rarely do many visitors make it down here to this rugged corner of the island. Home to a heiau and village site, Kaunolu sits on a cliff top perch looking out toward the distant horizon—the perfect spot for watching the sunset, with no one around for miles.
Step Back in Time at Keomoku
While it was once the island’s bustling hub at the end of the 19th Century, Keomoku became a ghost town when its final resident moved away in 1951. For a few years, a devoted few would still drive down to worship at Ka Lanakila church, but by 1954 the church was abandoned. Thanks to recent efforts to restore the historic church, it still stands as a wooden reminder of a time when Keomoku thrived, and is a highlight of driving the coastal road to Kahalepalaoa and Lopa.
See Maunalei Valley From the Koloiki Ridge Trail
Most people are unaware that Lanai has areas of green forest, fed by a stream that often flows through verdant Maunalei Gulch. While the valley itself is closed to visitors, it’s possible to get a sweeping view while standing atop an overlook on the Koloiki Ridge Trail.
Explore the Red Earth of Keahiakawelo—aka “Garden of the Gods”
With a landscape that looks more Martian than tropical, Keahiakawelo, or “Garden of the Gods,” is an eerily beautiful red dirt plain that’s strewn with thousands of rocks. Best accessed by 4WD Jeep, the area glows even deeper toward sunset, as fading light in the western sky sets the rocks ablaze with color.
Find A Beach Without Any Footprints
Though it might take a little bit of exploring—and definitely a 4-wheel drive vehicle—it’s still possible to find a beach without footprints. Your best bet is at Polihua Beach on the island’s northern tip, or the string of beaches by Kahalepalaoa on the island’s eastern coast. Here is where you can truly breathe deeply, relax, and take it all in, experiencing a tropical beauty that’s unlike anywhere in the islands.