Adventure Time: Renting a 4-Wheel Drive on Lanai

image 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.

image 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.

  1. One thing I found with the off-roading. Sometimes going faster allows you to skim over the bumps, rather than drop down into each one. On one of the trails we averaged 5-10mph going in–which was very bumpy–but sped up to 20-25mph on the way back–which reduced many of the bumps. The downside to going faster? If you hit a BIG hole, you feel it a lot harder.

  2. Hi Sheila,
    Thanks for the great tips. I used to go to Lanai frequently with my father in the 60’s when he was an insurance salesman. We would stay at his friend’s home near the golf course.

    Does Lanai still have only ONE stop light on the island?

  3. HVG – If there is a traffic light in Lanai, we completely missed it. I wonder if it was removed? We didn’t see a traffic light on Molokai either.

  4. Visiting for the Carnival of Aloha. I’ll have to remember to bring old clothes and a cushion for my bony butt when I finally make it to Lanai. Mahalo for the guidance!

  5. Aloha, Skeet! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
    Oh, yes do wear old clothes and it would be very smart to bring along an extra cushion! The ride is bumpy, but worth the adventure to see the beautiful sites!

  6. I was just thinking the same thing… you need hobo clothes! LOL! Sounds like fun but I can see how you would get tired of the bumps after some time! I had no idea about that shipwreck! Can you go on board that thing? Or, is it a State-proclaimed danger zone? Unreal! It’s amazing it hasn’t been blown away long ago! It really must be stuck there! It survived two hurricanes that I can think of right off!

  7. Hi Evelyn – Go Hawaii has some pretty cool photos and info on that shipwreck: Here’s what they say, “Since the 19th century this windy, eight-mile stretch of beach has wrecked numerous ships along its shallow, rocky channel. In fact, the hull of the “Liberty Ship,” an oil-tanker from the 1940s, is still beached here in Kaiolohia Bay and its rusted hull gives the beach a surreal sense of wonder.”

    Here’s the link to it:

  8. Hi guys, good website but there is another (better) way to rent a jeep on the island. Adventure Lanai Ecocentre rents 4×4 Jeeps with much larger, more aggressive mud/sand tires. We have used them several times now and always been pleased. They will allow you to take the jeeps to a number of places which Dollar clearly warns you not to go. Many of the places are truly amazing but seen by few. They will deliver the Jeep to you and pick it up at no additional charge. They were reachable by cell phone at any point and were enthusiastic about suggesting some great places to go. They were always helpful in directing us how to get where we were going. They provide a detailed map of the island and indicate what to look for at each location (turtles, seals, dolphin etc…) We received a great deal if invaluable advice from Mikey at Adventure Lanai and our entire vacation would not have been quite as incredible had we not made the choice to go with Adventure Lanai. I believe their price was the same as Dollar and they give a discount for renting for 4 days or more. As of a month ago Mikey said they were expecting a shipment of brand new 4 door Jeep Wranglers in a week so they should have them now. They are well worth checking out at 808.565-7373 or

    P.S. There is no traffic light on Lanai!

    1. Do not rent from the Adventure Lanai Company. We rented in March 2017 and was given a broken down wreck that over heated whe we tried to drive to Ship Wreck Beach and left us stranded. Mikey lied to credit card company when we attempted to dispute the charges. Contact the local police department regarding this company, before renting from them.

  9. Thanks Lance for clearing up that mess about the traffic light. i was born and raised here and we havent had 1 yet. when u come to Lanai u have to be prepared to be unprepared as you are visiting an island that u can compare to no were else in the world. Sure some places may look similar, there is only 1 Lanai be prepared to Slow down as we dont move as fast as our visitors from the mainland. Also about going fast over bumps, sure its fun but remember it only take a second to turn fun into a disaster ie losing control breaking the vehicle or crashing altogether. Try to remember you are only visiting so please resepect the areas you travel to so they can be here for many years to come.

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