Lanai only has 30 miles of paved roads and many more miles of dirt roads. Some of the top scenic spots of Lanai such as Shipwreck Beach (photo below) and the Garden of the Gods are only accessible by 4-wheel drive. So, to explore the island, you really need to rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle for a day.
There is only one recommended Jeep-only rental company, Dollar Rent A Car and the prices reflect the limited supply. In 2007, the rate was $139 plus taxes for 24-hour rental. You cannot buy additional insurance, so it’s a good idea to have rental insurance from your personal auto insurance policy. 2014 Update — we liked renting a Hummer on Lanai much better than the Jeep, plus the rental car company was way nicer.
We rented a Jeep Wrangler at 9:00 a.m. and had planned a full 24-hour rental, but discovered we only needed the jeep for about eight hours. After eight hours, we had driven on all the roads that we were allowed on and we were dusty and worn out. The roads are super bumpy. And I repeat, the roads are super bumpy! The bumpy roads are fun at first, but then they start to get tiresome. By eight hours, we were very ready to return the Jeep. I wouldn’t advise taking these off road trails if you have any muscle or joint pain.
You can select a hard top or soft top Jeep. We opted for the soft top. The rental agency can show you how to take the roof down. At first it was fun having the roof top down. After a while, we were glad we had the capability to put the roof top back up and use the air conditioning. We got very dusty.
The Dollar Rent A Car staff will provide you with a map of the island. They will tell you where you can go and where you can’t go. Some roads are not accessible based on if there has been rain and if the roads are muddy. On the day we rented the Jeep, we weren’t allowed on the Munro Trail, which was disappointing.
The Dollar Rent A Car agency is located in Lanai City behind the Lanai Plantation Store. If you are staying at Hotel Lanai, it is only a two-block walk. The Four Seasons Lodge and Manele Bay locations have a shuttle that can take you directly to the rental agency. If you are staying at Hotel Lanai, the rental office is just a block away. The concierge can help you arrange your rental. The Dollar office is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
Here are some tips to help you plan your 4-wheel drive adventure in Lanai:
- Check the weather forecast before you rent. If it is going to be raining, you will be extremely limited on where you can go.
- Be prepared for very bumpy roads
- Bring your camera.
- Wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
- Bring water and snacks.
- Wear something that you won’t mind getting dirty. Be aware that the red dirt may not wash out.
- Be sure to listen to instructions on where you can and can’t go and ask questions.
- Don’t drive on any beach because you could be fined and you could get stuck.
- If there are any places that you particularly want to see, be sure and ask for advice and landmarks for finding those spots. We had wanted to see the petroglyphs near Shipwreck Beach, but we couldn’t find the trail that led to them. In hindsight, we should have asked for more detailed directions or called the office with our cell phones to ask for guidance.
- Rent the jeep as early in the morning as you can to explore the island during cooler hours. You’ll also be less likely to encounter rain during the morning hours.
- Have fun!
Here’s a video we shot from our second four-wheel driving adventure.