The island of Lana’i is a beautiful and secluded paradise that is often overlooked by travelers. Whether you choose to stay a few nights on Lana’i or take the short 45 minute ferry ride from Maui for a day trip, you are sure to be delighted.
One very scenic and otherworldly place to visit on Lana’i is the Garden of the Gods. This red rock garden landscape is located about 7 miles from Lana’i City but you must rent a 4-wheel drive to navigate the rugged trail. This trip is a great family adventure and will make for some incredible pictures and memories.
Where to Rent a 4-Wheel Drive on Lana’i
There are several places to rent your 4-wheel drive. If you are taking a day excursion from Maui, you can either book a complete package from Expeditions or book the ferry and jeep individually.
The Expeditions package includes the Jeep rental, 1 adult round-trip ferry ride, and 1 adult round-trip shuttle to the rental facility. The price is about $186. You can book additional adults and children at the rate of $60 per adult and $40 per child. The Jeep rental is through Dollar, and you will most likely get a choice of a hard top or soft top.
If you choose to book your ferry ride and jeep rental separately, then consider renting the vehicle from Adventure Lana’i Ecocentre. This company has more rugged Jeeps than Dollar and will let you navigate the fun Munro Trail, where Dollar often does not. They will pick you up and drop you off at the ferry. Call for current rates. Book your ferry ride only through Expeditions.
For those staying on Lana’i, inquire about Jeep rental packages at your hotel or bed and breakfast.
Getting to the Garden of the Gods
Once you have the Jeep, it’s time to hit the road. It can be very dusty and bumpy! Your clothing and shoes may become covered in a fine layer of red dirt. Pack an extra set of clothes, if desired. Take it slow and enjoy the ride. The Garden of the Gods is not an all-day excursion, but will take several hours if you plan to hike around. Be sure to pack food and beverages because there are no services once you leave Lana’i city.
Both Jeep rental companies will provide you with a map and directions to the Garden of the Gods. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to this red rock wonder.
What to Expect at the Garden of the Gods
Once at the Garden of the Gods, take some time to hike around the rock formations. The colors seem to change, depending on time of day. In the early morning or evening, the sun will hit the rocks to reveal different hues of red, orange, and purple. If you are lucky, you’ll see small Axis deer bounding about and eating small tufts of vegetation.
On clear days, you will be able to see Moloka’i stretching from the left to the right. Oahu may be visible, but you need perfectly clear skies. The west Maui mountains should be clearly visible to your right.
If you like to geocache, there is one cache at this location. Sign into your geocaching account to find the details. It is quite fun to find a cache at this remote location that only few people visit each day.
If you visit during the middle of the day, this site makes an excellent location for a picnic lunch!
Be sure to watch your children at the Garden of the Gods. Since there are many rock formations, it is easy to become disoriented and get lost. Remind children not to run to help avoid broken bones. There are also signs in the area asking visitors to be respectful and to not stack the rocks.
Beyond the Garden of the Gods
Polihua Beach is on the same dirt road, past the rocky garden. The road becomes very bumpy and often deeply rutted. In some parts, you may only be able to reach 5 mph. However, the beach is worth every bump! It is often deserted and you can relax in Hawaiian paradise all by yourself. Swimming is too dangerous here, but it is a great beach to suntan or sit and read a book. Be sure to park in the indicated spot to avoid getting your Jeep stuck in the sand. The rental companies will charge you a fee to come pull you out!
Head back up the road to Garden of the Gods to return to Lana’i City or to try out some of the other Jeep trails. Enjoy your adventure!