For our first official vaccinated vacation, we set-off to Hawaii and the beautiful remote island of Lana’i. For those not familiar with Lana’i, it is a small island, adjacent to Maui and Molokai. The majority of the island is owned by Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, who purchased it in 2012. With a population of just over 3,000, Lana’i is small – home to only one “city”, two resorts (now both operated by Four Seasons), and a small hotel. The lure of Lana’i is really its size. While tourism is still a big draw for the island, to me, a visit to Lana’i is a visit to the true Hawaii, a world away from some of the more built-up resort areas on Oahu and Maui.
There are no direct flights into Lana’i from the mainland US, so visitors have two options to travel to Lana’i. The first is the passenger ferry which departs regularly from Lahaina on Maui. The ferry takes about an hour, costs $30 per person and is a very scenic way to arrive to Lana’i. The other option, is to take a charter flight on Lana’i Air from Honolulu, which can easily be arranged in connection with a passenger flight from the mainland.
On our most recent trip, we flew Hawaiian Airlines from San Diego to Honolulu, and then Lana’i Air to Lana’i. The Lana’i Air rep met us at baggage claim in Honolulu and transferred us via town car to the private air terminal where we were given our own private room in the Lana’i Air lounge to enjoy snacks and drinks prior to our flight. The flight from Honolulu to Lana’i is only about 20-30 minutes and is also very scenic. Lana’i Air charges $500 per person for roundtrip air transfers between Lana’i and Honolulu.
At the moment, Hawaii does have several restrictions on entry due to COVID-19. For the latest information please check Go Hawaii and carefully review the requirements. Note that only COVID tests from select partners are accepted for entry into Hawaii.
Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, a beach resort on the southeastern coast of the island, has 213 guest rooms, including 45 suites. Primarily the guest rooms vary by view: Garden, Partial Ocean, Ocean View, and Ocean Front. We stayed in a Garden View room during our trip but I highly recommend an Ocean View if budget allows. The suites vary by size, configuration and view – there are some pretty spectacular options for a larger group or event, or if you’re someone that requires more private space.
The resort was completely redone from 2012-2016 and the new guest rooms feature all the modern comforts: a large rain shower, soaking tub, smart toilets, double vanities, ample closet space, luxurious King-sized beds and down pillows, flat screen TVs, comfy robes and slippers, coffee makers, electric tea kettles and of course – private lanais! The decor is done in neutral tones with dark woods, bright whites, and warm creams, and a nod to Hawaii’s traditions and fusion with Asian culture.
The main restaurant at the hotel is One Forty. It is the primary option for breakfast – serving traditional American options as well as Hawaiian ones (hello loco moco!). At night, it transforms into a steakhouse with a selection of fresh fish as well. Located just off the lower hotel lobby, the restaurant, which is largely open air, boasts beautiful views of the lush resort flora and the ocean beyond.
On the other side of the lobby lounge is the Nobu Lana’i – one of Chef Matsahisa’s many famed restaurants. Any stay at Four Seasons Resort Lana’i should definitely include a special dinner at this romantic restaurant featuring sushi, wagyu beef, and many classic Nobu dishes.
Small plates, casual fare and cocktails are offered in the lower lobby lounge as well as The Break, a sports-focused bar and cafe. The Break is also open for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, as well as some great pastries and gelato for when that sweet tooth kicks in!
For lunch, guests can enjoy delicious healthful food at Malibu Farm, which is located just near the family pool. You have the option to dine at the restaurant, or oder off the menu from your chair at the pool or the beach. Don’t miss dessert here because the grilled chocolate cake and ice cream sandwiches are divine!
Golfers also have a dining option at the Jack Nicklaus golf course. Views is open for lunch daily and has a variety of casual dishes, as well as of course – great views!
If you’re looking to explore off-property for dinner one night, I highly recommend dinner at Nobu Sensei, located outside of Lana’i City at the Four Seasons Sensei Resort. This Nobu is the primary restaurant for the wellness hotel and offers dishes that aren’t seen at any other Nobu in the world. Their dining room is stunning and the food is both unique and healthy.
Overall, the food at Four Seasons Lana’i was wonderful at every restaurant we went to and I was also so impressed that the cocktail menu was different at every venue. Plus, all the cocktails were delicious!!
The resort is home to two pools – a family pool, which has a waterfall as well as two hot tubs and is located right next to Malibu Farm just below the main hotel lobby; and an adults-only pool nicknamed The Retreat, which has its own waterfall, organic design and hot tub. Just a short walk down the bluff, a pristine beach welcomes guests with full service including umbrellas, lounge chairs, and food (just no alcohol is allowed on the beach). We set aside time each day to relax by the pool or at the beach. Both were so peaceful and beautiful. The water in Hawaii was clear turquoise and perfectly pleasant around 70 degrees. While the sun is hot, umbrellas are everywhere and there is a lovely breeze. One of my favorite touches was when the pool and beach staff came around with little treats during the day – a frozen pineapple skewer, a miniature affogatto… just surprise and delight at every turn!
At the resort, guests will also enjoy an 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, a tennis center with 3 courts (including lines for pickle ball!), hiking trails, yoga and meditation classes, cultural experiences, and a spa with 8 treatment rooms.
We spent 5 nights on Lanai and I must say I was impressed with just how much there was to enjoy on the island. We didn’t get bored and could definitely have spent a full week there! Aside from enjoying the beach, the pool, taking a pickle ball lesson with the tennis pro, getting a massage at the spa, and hiking from the resort, we also got off property a couple of times to explore the island.
On our first day, we did Archery at the Archery & Shooting Center located just past Lana’i City (about 25 minutes’ by shuttle). That was great fun and as hunting with a bow and arrow is quite popular on Lana’i, it also felt like a very apropos cultural activity! We also went snorkeling and I think it was some of the best snorkeling I have seen in my life. The 3 hour excursion departs from Manele Bay harbor just 5 minutes from the hotel. Guests are taken aboard a luxury catamaran to a reef just off the island, where you can snorkel, swim, jump off the boat, and overall just enjoy yourself for about an hour or two, before indulging in snacks and cocktails for the return trip.
We also loved the sunset sail, which was aboard the same catamaran, right at sunset, and included pupu platters and cocktails. We saw amazing views of the Lana’i coastline as the sun set and it was truly magical.
On our last full day in Lana’i, we rented a 4×4 jeep from the front desk and explored the island on our own – visiting the famed Shipwreck Beach and Garden of the Gods, as well as Lana’i City and some old abandoned settlements and beach clubs.
Four Seasons Lana’i was definitely one of the best beach resort stays of my life and we enjoyed it so much. If Lana’i isn’t on your bucket list, I highly recommend adding it! Next time, I am hoping to spend some time at the Sensei wellness resort in addition to the beach resort. ATLAS + VALISE is an affiliate of Travel Edge, a Four Seasons Preferred Partner – all ATLAS + VALISE clients enjoy special perks and amenities when booked at Four Seasons Resorts.