Lanai Explorer 9 miles across from West Maui

Lanai - 9 miles across the Au'au Channel from West Maui

Lanai Explorer awesome cliffs

Snorkel & sightseeing excursions along the awesome cliffs

Lanai Explorer map of Lanai

The pristine waters of Hulopo‘e Beach - an easy 5-7 minute walk from the harbor

Lanai Explorer amazing rock formations

Amazing rock formations on Lanai's remote west coast

Lanai Explorer Sweetheart Rock

Sweetheart Rock is the prominent landmark on the south shore of Lanai

Lanai Explorer spinner dolphins

Large pods of spinner dolphins are often seen along the Lanai coastline

Nine miles across the Au’au channel from West Maui lies the privately-owned island of Lanai. It was once the largest pineapple plantation in the world; now very little pineapple is grown there. The island’s economy is centered around the two resort hotels – the Manele Bay Hotel and the Lodge at Ko’ele. Most visitors to the island come over for the day from the island of Maui. The island is very dry and doesn’t have the lush beauty found in Maui’s rainforests, but Lanai has the longest stretch of coral reef in Hawaii and the beaches on this island are down right deserted. The area around the Manele Bay hotel is particularly beautiful, with uncrowded beaches, fascinating tidepools, great snorkeling, red seacliffs, and lots of sun. But the biggest attraction of Lanai is the large pod of Spinner Dolphins frequently encountered on Lanai’s southern coast … watching these marine mammals in their natural environment will surely be one of your most memorable vacation highlights!
Lanai Explorer with landing is one of the most highly recommend activity by our clients! You spend the day snorkeling and exploring the island of Lanai. They also have a shorter tour without landing.
Makai Adventures takes you away from the crowds of Lahaina into the pristine waters of Lanai. Onboard their comfortable and spacious powerboat, Kainalu, you will visit 2-3 of the day’s best snorkel destinations. Spend the day watching dolphins and whales (December – May), and swimming with schools of fish, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and reefs full of sea life.

Join Paragon Lanai Snorkel Sail for thrilling adventures to the beautiful island!  Paragon specializes in performance sailing, and enjoy the exhilarating trade wind sail as you discover the exclusive island of Lana’i!  This Hawaiian island boasts one of the top 10 snorkel spots in the world, pristine reefs, tide pools, remote beaches, and spinner dolphins that play in Manele Bay.

Ocean Riders is the ultimate Lanai adventure, completely circling the island in a zodiac raft. They are the only tour operator that consistently circumnavigates the entire island of Lanai year-round. On a normal tour you will see shipwrecks strewn along the north shore of Lanai. They anchor in shallow water and you have the opportunity to swim in and walk around on an isolated, remote beach where there is no hotel or road in sight! Your captain will pull inside a sea cave carved out of the cliffs by giant storm swells over the centuries. Witness the cliffs of the Kona Coast of Lanai … and see Shark Fin, one of our favorite snorkel spots in Hawaii and one of the few places where pyramid butterfly fish can be seen.
lanai explorer
Brilliant ocean colors and landscape on Lanai
ocean riders lanai
Ocean Rider’s high speed raft

CLanai Snorkelingruise Ship Passengers

NCL cruise ship passengers in Kahului are able to do any of these tours except Paragon Lanai Snorkel Sail on the morning of your second day in port. Transportation is not included, and is most economically done by renting a car. We can arrange a rental car with shuttle pick-up at the harbor; rates vary throughout the year but start around $40 per day in low season; see our rental car page for more information. Drive time is approx. 60 minutes to Lahaina. You might also consider a Molokini snorkel tour as those trips depart from Maalaea Harbor, which is just 15 minutes away from your cruise ship’s dock.


Lahaina cruise ship passengers can do the Lanai Explorer with Landing as long as you are in port on the correct day of the week. This tour leaves from the same harbor where your ship’s tender arrives, so no transportation is necessary.

Activity Tips

Kevin Ditamore – Owner / Manager

A Lanai Snorkeling is a must-do on my list of Maui activities. If you have time for two snorkel boat tours, go to Molokini and Lanai. If you only have time for one, go to Lanai!!! The reef there is just as good as Molokini (better in places) with lots of fish and turtles … and there are a lot less people.

Lanai trips are definitely a good way to go for people staying in the West Maui area (Kapalua, Kahana, Honokowai, Kaanapali, and Lahaina). Lanai trips leave from Lahaina, so much less driving is involved than most of the Molokini boats.

While none of the Lanai trips GUARANTEE dolphin sightings, it is unusual to not encounter dolphins along the south coast of Lanai. Your chances of seeing dolphins is in the 75-80% range on any given day.

Lots of people ask if they can swim with the dolphins. The honest answer is “probably not.” Snorkel tours have to be very cautious in approaching dolphins … they are protected marine mammals. Once in a while a boat will stop to snorkel and the dolphins will approach out of curiosity. If this happens, enjoy the moment … you are truly blessed. Don’t plan on it happening. You will likely see plenty of activity just watching them from the boat … the large pod of spinner dolphins at Lanai is very active. You will likely witness acrobatic behavior and dolphins will probably swim on both sides of the bow of the boat just a few feet away from you.

So now you know you want to go to Lanai. Which boat should you do?

The Lanai Explorer is our most popular tour …. it offers the adventure of rafting … but more comfort than most rafts as there are real seats on board the vessel (you don’t have to sit on the innertube sides of the raft unless you want to). The Lanai Explorer also offers quite a bit of shade and has a marine head on board when nature calls. We absolutely LOVE the Lanai Explorer with Landing tour. Grab your camera and hit the trails that go out to the point beyond Hulopo’e Beach … see the colorful tidepools and sea arch, scrample down a wooden ladder to the hidden beach that looks out to Sweetheart Rock (the Hawaiian placename is Pu’u Pehe), and hike up to the overlook. You can even walk up to the Manele Bay Hotel … the place Bill Gates rented out entirely when he got married here on Lanai. This tour is doable for the majority of our clients … but not all. Keep in mind that there is a walk of about 5-7 minutes each way to and from the beach.

The non-landing version of the Lanai Explorer is a great choice for people who have been on-shore at Lanai before … and want to spend more time out on the ocean around the island.

Finally … the trip for the die-hard adventurer. Ocean Riders is an awesome tour … if you are up to the challenge. When you leave the harbor at 7:00am be aware that it will be 7 or 8 hours before you will see another white porcelein seat with chrome handle on the side of it. This tour can be rough at times … but in terms of the amount and variety of snorkeling, the overall distance the tour covers, and the value you get for your dollar … this is the best itinerary in Hawaii for those of you die hards out there!

One more Lanai ocean adventure worth mentioning … for CERTIFIED scuba divers, Extended Horizons operates an excellent scuba diving trip to Lanai … they typically visit the spectacular underwater grottos called “Cathedrals” as well as one other site. For more information about Lanai scuba diving see our Scuba Diving page.