Hiking on Lanai is unlike it is on any other island in Hawaii, or any other place in the world, for that matter. Of all the things to do on Lanai, hiking may be one of the best ways to see the plant and wildlife on the island and its picturesque views. There are a few Lanai hiking trails from which to choose, so deciding where to hike on Lanai is simply a matter of choosing which type of territory or scenery you prefer. Some of the more popular sites for Lanai hiking are along the Munro Trail near Lanai City, on the Kaiolohia-Kahue trail in Shipwreck Beach, and at the Garden of the Gods.
The Munro Trail is one of the older hiking trails on the island, established and named after George Munro, who arrived from New Zealand in 1890 to change the island's ranch holdings from sheep to cattle. He preserved the area to protect the endangered and rare species of plant life that grew here, such as the sandalwood tree and the Hawaiian gardenia. He also introduced the Cook pine, which can be seen in extensive groups along the trail. At the end of this trail lies the highest peak in Lanai, Mount Lanaihale.
Walking this entire Lanai hiking trail is not possible, practically speaking, because of the distance it covers, so visitors would be wise to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle for part of this trip; it takes about three hours to traverse the length of the Munro Trail by car. Visitors are advised to wait for dry weather conditions and drive carefully.
Shipwreck Beach, also referred to as Kaiolohia-Kahue and the lost trail, is located on the northeast side of the island, where you will find the ruins of an old lighthouse and can see a historic shipwreck as well. For the adventurous travelers, this Lanai hiking trail is literally off the beaten path with little to no signage. It starts at Shipwreck Beach and goes towards the interior for several miles. It is primarily used by the local fishermen and is not accessible by vehicle.
Hiking on Lanai may also bring you to the Garden of the Gods, which is the site of one of the unique Lanai hiking trails and is sometimes referred to as the ultimate rock garden; the Hawaiians call it Keahiakawelo. There is no vegetation along this hiking trail—it is filled with various rocks and boulders in an isolated canyon. Scientifically speaking, the scene of beauty at this Lanai attraction is the result of erosion and weathering, but there are several island legends that tell the story differently.
According to one legend, the rocks were dropped by the gods tending their gardens in the sky. In another, Hawaiian warrior spirits live in these rocks. Probably one of the more spectacular legends says that the gods were fond of sculpting, and they produced strong winds to create the sculptures in this garden. The best times to view the Garden of the Gods are during the early morning hours when the deep color of the sun brings out the most radiant colors in the rocks and creates spectacular shadows, or in the evening when the sunset illuminates the rock formations.
Wherever you choose to go hiking on Lanai, expect to be dazzled by the unique landscape. As on any hiking trail, it is advisable and sometimes required to stay on the trail, and it is wise to avoid touching or tampering with the landscape. Bring your camera with you to capture moments and stunning scenery from your Lanai hiking trip. Be sure to check, in advance, the conditions of weather and trail, as there are sometimes temporary closures due to weather, and above all, enjoy the Lanai hiking trails that are sure to be a memorable part of your vacation to the island.