Lanai Island is 140 square miles in size, making it the sixth-largest Hawaiian Island.
Whether you are new to snorkeling or a seasoned diver, the island of Lanai is a popular destination. The island waters are calm and crystal clear with wide ranges of visibility to capture the sight of multiple varieties of marine life including rare tropical fish, colorful reefs, sea turtles, and dolphins.
Although many of the Hawaiian Islands were inhabited by Polynesians between 300-600 AD, Lanai was not one of them. The island was feared by the people, as it was thought to have evil man-eating spirits. Thus, the first person to live on Lanai was the son of Maui chief Kakaalaneo. The chief’s son, Kauluaau had disobeyed the Kapu system, which resulted in his being banished to Lanai.
Because the island was thought to be haunted, no one ever expected Kauluaau to survive. However, his courage and diligence got him through. Each night he burned a fire, which his father could see from across the water; and eventually, Chief Kakaalaneo allowed his son back to Maui where Kauluaau was awarded control of Lanai. He convinced others to join him on the island where they built fishing villages and planted crops.
Life continued this way until the 1800s when King Kamehameha I was overruled. After much turmoil and strife, the island’s inhabitants and industry slowly expanded. Then in 1922, the Dole Food Company bought the island.
To this day, it is the only privately owned island in Hawaii and was once home to Dole’s 19,000-acre pineapple plantation. While pineapples are still grown on the island, it has been scaled down to a mere 100 acres, catering only to businesses and residents on the island. The Dole Company became known as Castle & Cooke and is credited for creating Lanai into the attractive tourist destination that it is today.
However, privately owned or not, like all of Hawaii, the residents of Lanai embrace their culture and are dedicated to providing guests with an authentic aloha welcome. Known for its quiet atmosphere and beautiful beaches, the island of Lanai has been a preferred destination for many visitors seeking to escape the chaos of everyday life, including celebrities like Will Smith, Bill Gates, and Jessica Alba.
The Hawaiian island is home to the luxury Four Seasons Resort and a signature golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. It also features unspoiled beaches, mountains, ATV rentals, and of course kayaking, dolphin tours, and snorkeling. Be careful when visiting Lanai, there are many dangers as the island is very raw and rugged.
Lanai Island is excellent for snorkeling and provides multiple-level dive sites for everyone. There are snorkeling tours available on the island, or if you’re feeling adventurous and want to snorkel on your own, check out Manele Bay. Equipment can be rented from the nearby Four Seasons Lanai Resort, where you’ll discover the white sands of Hulopo’e Beach along with an abundance of coral reef formations and fish species.
Another popular spot to snorkel Lanai is Wash Rock. Wash Rock is located on the southern portion of Lanai and is recommended for intermediate to advanced-level divers. Water depths range from 4 – 65 feet and marine life consists of coral formations, butterflyfish, colorful sponges, moray eels, lobsters, and crabs. A lucky few may even spot the rare pipefish.
Area tour companies offer snorkeling on Lanai as well and are familiar with the best spots. Plus, all snorkeling gear is provided along with snorkel training and safety tips. What better way to enjoy your water adventure and the quest to witness the breathtaking beauty of underwater sea life in the pristine waters of Lanai?
Hulopo’e Beach is on the southwestern corner of the island with ocean depths between 6 and 12 feet. With clear waters, large tide pools, and visibility of 80 ft. or more, it is a prime spot for world-class snorkeling.