What is a lanai?

If you’ve been researching hotels or condos for a vacation in Hawaii, you may have come across the word lanai and wondered what that means.  A lanai is the Hawaiian word for patio or balcony.

Most hotel lanais are equipped with at least two chairs and a small table. The above photo is of the lanai from a room at the JW Marriott Ihilani on Oahu. (Note that in 2016 this resort was rebranded as a Four Seasons resort. See our updated review of this property of Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.)

We tend to spend a lot of time on our room’s lanai in Hawaii, especially in the mornings and evenings. So, for us, finding a nice lanai an important choice when making our hotel or condo selection.

Your lanai is a great place to start the day with a cup of coffee or tea.  If you have a nice lanai, here’s a little money saving tip for you couples — order one continental breakfast to enjoy on your lanai.  Most continental breakfasts are actually big enough to share.  You’ll save money and have more privacy on your lanai as compared to getting an expensive ($20 to $45 or more per person) buffet breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant.  Alternatively, pick up a few breakfast items and fruit in a grocery store for your breakfasts, you’ll save even more then.  Breakfast items tend to be easier to find and store, but you might also want to consider having other meals on your lanai.

Many Hawaii restaurants have lanais for wonderful al fresco dining.  When possible, I always like to request seating on the lanai.

If you see lanai spelled with a lowercase L, that refers to the balcony or patio. If you see an uppercase L, that refers to the Hawaiian Island of Lana’i. This island is somewhat of a hidden gem and an off-the-beaten path Hawaiian Island. See my article, The Allure of Lana’i.

  1. At first I thought, “How did you manage to make a post on just lanais?” Then I realized just how important a great lanai is in Hawaii.

    The weather is awesome and many hotels have either a sunrise or sunset view – so you should definitely consider a hotel room or condo’s lanai.

    If you get a room without one, you’ll be like a little puppy scratching at the window–wishing you could be outside! 😉

  2. My hubby and I have just finished dinner on our lanai at the beach villa we rented at Ko Olina resort in Oahu! We have an enclosed patio at our home in the Alberta north which we use daily for breakfast and dinner when weather allows (about 4.5-5 months of the year) and really enjoy it…so imagine us at the beach! We love, love, love a resort that has a lanai and a view of the ocean with warm gentle breezes and incredible sunrises and sunsets…and Hawaii does it right!

    1. Enjoy that lanai, Helen, and take lots of photos to help you remember your time enjoying that lanai.

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