At 140 square miles, Lanai is the smallest publicly accessible Hawaiian Island. Even with its small size, the island offers days of exploration with stunning sights. Luckily, getting to Lanai from Maui is easy. You can fly or take a ferry to Lanai. Many people enjoy the 45-minute ferry because not only is the boat ride a fun excursion but there’s a chance of seeing marine life such as whales (in season), dolphins, turtles, or flying fish.
Expeditions Ferry runs five times daily, departing Maui to Lanai at 6:45 am, 9:15 am, 12:45 pm, 3:15 pm, and 5:45 pm. Tickets can be purchased for $30 each way, and children under 12 years and seniors 65 and over are only $20 each way. Expeditions requires check in at their kiosk at least 30 minutes before departure. The kiosk is located at Lahaina Harbor, in downtown Lahaina off Front Street near the popular Banyan Tree and directly across the street from the historic Pioneer Inn.
Tip: Check weather conditions prior to your trip. The ferry may cancel a trip in inclement weather.
Tip: Seas tend to get choppier as the day passes. If you have a tendency to get seasick, you might consider either flying or taking the earliest ferry of the day.
PARKING IN LAHAINA
If you are driving to Lahaina Harbor, be sure to note parking areas that allow extended parking hours. There are several paid parking lots to choose from on Dickensen Street and the surrounding area. Make sure you can purchase 24-hour or 48-hour parking in case you plan on keeping your vehicle parked overnight. From most paid parking lots, it’s an easy 5-10 minute walk to the Expeditions kiosk.
THE FERRY RIDE
Once aboard the ferry, you can choose from three seating options. There’s comfortable seating inside the main level cabin. There is also a bathroom and space to store luggage and golf clubs. On the ferry’s upper deck, you can choose outdoor seating which provides spectacular views. Or you may choose inside seating with air conditioning. The ferry trip lasts approximately 45 minutes, and you’ll have a chance of spotting spinner dolphins playing in the warm Pacific waters. During the winter season you may even see breaching humpback whales along the way. As you get closer to Lanai you’ll start to notice the island’s wondrous geographical features. Stunning sea cliffs mark the entryway to Manele Harbor as your ferry trip draws to a close.
Tip: There are no porters, so be sure to have luggage that is easily transported on and off the ferry.
Once you arrive at Manele Harbor, you’ll find podiums where you can purchase shuttle tickets to key places around the island. Expect to pay approximately $25 per person roundtrip to Lanai City. If you’ve reserved a vehicle from Dollar Lanai, check with them regarding a shuttle into town to pick up your rental. Renting a Jeep is highly recommended if you plan on exploring the island on your own.
Tip: If you have booked a room at one of the hotels, you should also inquire about shuttle service to your accommodations as it may or may not be included with your reservation.
Another option, which is especially good for day trippers, is to schedule a private Island tour with Rabaca’s Limousine & Island Tours (808-559-0230). Rabaca’s offers full taxi service to many places across the island, including private tours off the beaten path. Seeing Lanai with a friendly, knowledgeable guide is a great way to discover hidden Island gems, which will make for a fun and memorable experience that you’ll be talking about for years to come.
THE RETURN TRIP TO LAHAINA, MAUI
When you’re ready to say Aloha to the island of Lanai, be sure to arrive at Manele Harbor 30 minutes before the ferry departs, and check in at the kiosk near the boat ramp. The travel time between Lanai City and Manele Harbor runs approximately 20 minutes, so plan accordingly. The harbor provides public restrooms.
Ferry departure times from Lanai are 8:00 am, 10:30 am, 2:00 pm, 4:30 pm, and 6:45 pm. The ferry does depart on time to maintain their schedule.
Tip: The 4:30 pm return ferry from Lanai to Maui is the most popular and tends to book up quickly, so make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time.
Lanai is such a vacationer’s paradise because it has the seclusion and scenic beauty of a remote destination, while offering comfortable ferry transportation to and from the island. So next time you’re looking to add something new to your Maui visit, consider boarding the ferry and discovering what Lanai has to offer.