Day Trips from Maui: Molokai & Lanai

Visiting Maui’s Neighbors

While Maui island gets most of the glory, the two smaller nearby islands of Lanai and Molokai also make up Maui County. Their close proximity makes it possible to wake up on Maui, spend the day sailing and snorkeling off Lanai, and be back in time for a sunset luau on the beach at Wailea. Or you can hop aboard a ferry from Lahaina Harbor and explore Molokai’s east-end rainforest or tour the remote, historic Kalaupapa Peninsula.



The smallest inhabited island of Hawaii, Lanai was once called the “Pineapple Island” for its rolling plantation fields and is now home to two luxury resorts featuring championship golf courses. From dining to accommodations, visitors are drawn by Lanai’s curious mix of sophistication and rural charm. There are no high rises on Lanai, and the tiny town of Lanai City has yet to see its first stoplight. It takes five minutes to walk across the center of town.

Things to Do

Recreational activities range from fishing, snorkeling and beach combing to hiking, golf, archery, clay shooting and mountain biking. One tour operator will rent you a Jeep to explore the island’s rugged terrain on your own, including a map, or they’ll arrange for a guided tour of the island’s many natural attractions. Highlights are exploring Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) and Polihua Beach, hiking the Munro Trail or watching the dolphins at Hulopoe Bay.


Like Lanai, Molokai is a world of its own. Its rural lifestyle and predominantly Native Hawaiian population have given this island the moniker “the most Hawaiian island.” Molokai appeals to those seeking an unhurried pace and raw natural beauty. Along the north coast, the highest sea cliffs in the world drop to the ocean from more than 3,000 feet. On the east end, ancient Hawaiian loko i‘a (fish ponds) come to life, stone by stone, in restoration projects. On the west side of the island, the 3-mile Papohaku Beach is one of the largest white-sand beaches in Hawaii.

Things to Do

The island’s activities are centered outdoors. You can sip coffee from a 500-acre coffee plantation, hike along rugged trails, or kayak on the open ocean. On the northern coast, Kalaupapa National Historical Park is its own county, named Kalawao, a peninsula isolated from the rest of the island by cliffs that rise approximately 2,000 feet. Molokai is known as the “birthplace of hula,” and this is celebrated at the annual Ka Hula Piko Festival.



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