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Visit Lanai with Trilogy’s Discover Lanai Snorkeling Trip

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Island hopping isn’t as common in Hawaii as it is in places like the Caribbean (the islands are just so big and far apart!), but if you’re itching to check off another Hawaiian Island from your bucket list, I’ve got the PERFECT thing. 

On my last trip to Maui, I finally did Trilogy’s Discover Lanai Tour. It’s their most popular tour, and I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while. 

Here’s the scoop: 

Visit Lanai with Trilogy’s Discover Lanai Tour

Trilogy has a big legacy on Maui…they were the first company to offer sailing excursions on Maui and they just celebrated their 50th anniversary.

While they offer a bunch of different snorkel and whale watching tours around Maui, their flagship tour is their day trip to Lanai. 

There are other companies that take you to spots off of Lanai to snorkel, but Trilogy is the only tour operator that actually lands on the island. And they’ve put together the PERFECT itinerary for a day of fun in the sun. 

Discover Lanai Tour Itinerary

There are four options for this tour every day (an early morning and a late morning departure from both Kaanapali Beach and Maalaea Harbor). 

Since I was staying in Kapalua (and still running on mainland time), I picked the early morning tour leaving from Kaanapali Beach. 

The tour leaves from Kaanapali at 7AM, but you need to arrive by 6:30AM to check in. 

They’ll validate your parking if you park in the Sheraton garage (you’ll still pay about $15), but at this hour it’s pretty easy to get one of the free parking spots in the public parking section of the garage (not the main section and you won’t go through a gate to park).

We met on the beach in front of the Sheraton (right near the public beach entrance) and got loaded up on the boat quickly and after getting settled and a quick safety spiel, we were off!

*This tour loads from the beach which means you have to wade through knee deep water to get to the boat’s ladder. They time each person’s entry with the waves so you shouldn’t get wet but I usually like to take off my shorts just in case. 

It took just over an hour to cruise over to Lanai and it was smooth sailing. We were served warm cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, and coffee pretty quickly after we boarded and then just before we got to Lanai, they brought out warm breakfast croissant sandwiches. 

When we got to Lanai, we docked at Manele Harbor, gathered our things and did the quick walk (about ¼ mile) to Hulopoe Beach. The crew also had some golf carts if you’re not able to walk that far. 

Once we got to the beach we had about 2.5 hours to spend on the island. They have a great set up on the beach with chairs, mats, plenty of shade and a snack and drink station. 

The snorkeling is right off the beach and the crew is there to help you get your gear and time your entry in between waves. There are also a couple of crew members further out on surfboards to keep an eye on everyone. 

I was actually pretty impressed with the snorkeling…I think it’s one of the better spots I’ve been to in Hawaii. 

But what I really LOVED about this setup is that you can snorkel for however long (or little) you want and when you’re done, you’re on one of the best beaches in Hawaii. 

There’s also a short hike you can do up past the tidepools for a great view of Pu’u Pehe Rock. 

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The time flew by (I could’ve stayed here all day) and a little before 11:30AM we packed up our things and walked back to the harbor for lunch. 

If you’ve ever done a snorkel tour, most of the time “lunch” consists of a sandwich and bag of chips, but this is a BBQ lunch in a large pavilion overlooking the harbor. 

We had salad, rolls, kiawe-wood grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and stir fry noodles all served at the table. And there was plenty for seconds!

They have adirondack chairs and corn hole set up on the lawn plus the general store down below has a great gift shop (with Trilogy and Lanai merch). 

After lunch, we loaded back up on the boat to sail back to Maui. They opened the bar up plus we had ice cream sundaes just before we landed. 

And we saw dolphins! 

We were back on Kaanapali Beach by 2:30 PM and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at Whalers Village and hitting Monkeypod for happy hour. What a great day!

Let’s Talk Numbers – Is It Worth It?

By now you’re probably thinking “sign me up.” But let’s talk numbers first…it’s definitely expensive. Everything in Hawaii is expensive now. 

The tour is $289/adult ($255/teen, $190/child, 2 and under are free) before tax and tip. And it’s a little bit more if you leave from Maalaea. 

For a family (even a couple), that’s a lot of money. 

So is it worth it? 

Everything is relative, but I would emphatically say YES. This is a HIGH VALUE excursion. 

First of all, it’s 8 hours. In comparison, my other favorite snorkel trip on Maui is $279/person for a 3.5 hour trip. 

Also, they’re basically feeding you all day. We had cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, coffee and juice  plus hot breakfast sandwiches on the boat over to Lanai. On the beach, they had water and popcorn set out (plus reef safe sunscreen to use). Lunch was pretty extensive (salad, bbq chicken, stir fry noodles, corn on the cob). And there was a top shelf open bar on the boat ride back (plus ice cream sundaes). 

And the service is top notch. This really is a luxury cruise. You’re never standing in line at a buffet…everything on the boat and at lunch in the pavilion is served to you and they are ON IT. 

Side Note: If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip, I LOVE Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. They’re seriously the only company I ever use. They’ll give you the very best prices, you don’t have to reserve with a credit card or pay until you show up, you can cancel and re-book anytime if you find a better rate, and they usually have a special that adds additional drivers for no fee. It’s a no brainer. Click here to check rates for your trip.

But honestly, the biggest selling point here is the flexibility to do what you like to do. Because the snorkeling on this trip is all done from the beach, you can get in for as long (or as little) as you want and there’s plenty else to do. 

Actually quite a few people on our boat didn’t even go out to snorkel at all. So if you have a mix of people in your travel group (some older, some younger, some who want to snorkel, some who don’t) everybody can just do what they want to do. Whereas when you go out on a snorkel boat to an offshore location, if you don’t want to snorkel you’re just stuck sitting on the boat. 

And like I said, the beach here (Hulopoe Beach) is spectacular and there’s plenty of shade plus a great short hike if you’re not the type who likes to sit still.  

So I would really think of this like an excursion to another island that also happens to have great snorkeling instead of just a snorkeling trip. 

Trilogy’s marketing campaign for this tour says that “Discover Lanai is sure to become your favorite day of vacation!” and you know what? It was!

Want to read more posts about Maui? I’ve got plenty!

Things You Can ONLY Do on Maui // 9 Things to SKIP on Maui // 4 Day Maui Itinerary // My Favorite Road to Hana Itinerary // Things to Do Upcountry // Tips for Sunrise at Haleakala National Park // Snorkeling Molokini Crater // Whale Watching

My Favorite Hotels on Maui // Where to Find Condos on Maui // Wailea vs Kaanapali // Every Resort in Wailea Ranked // Four Seasons Maui Review // Andaz Maui Review // Fairmont Kea Lani Review // Wailea Beach Resort Review // Four Seasons vs Andaz Maui // Andaz Maui vs Wailea Beach Resort

Best Restaurants in Wailea // Best Breakfast in Wailea & Kihei // Mama’s Fish House // Best Luaus in Wailea

My Favorite Things to Do in South Maui // Best Beaches in Wailea & Kihei // Road to Hana Tips // Driving the Backside of the Road to Hana // Where to See Turtles on Maui

Maui vs Kauai // Everything You Need to Know BEFORE you go to Maui

Here’s one more really important thing you need to know before your Hawaii trip…

Reservations You Need to Make BEFORE Your Hawaii Trip

You’ve got your airfare, hotel, rental car and your big activities booked, so you should be good to go, right? Wrong!

Travel is BOOMING in Hawaii so a lot of state and national parks used the closure and reopening to institute reservation systems at some of the island’s most popular spots to make things a little more sustainable.

That means that there are now over half a dozen sites (beaches, trailheads, etc.) that require advance reservations. And some sell out well before you arrive on the island so you really need to have some sort of a plan.

I recently saw somebody in a Hawaii travel group post in a panic that they didn’t know they had to make reservations for things in advance…they thought they could just show up and “go with the flow.” I was tempted to say, well, “as long as the flow doesn’t take you somewhere that requires reservations, you can!” ; )

But I don’t want YOU to be that person, so I’ve pulled together a list of all the places you need to reserve entry in advance (plus all the details on booking windows, price, links, etc.) and a handful of popular tourist hotspots that book out really far in advance too.

Haleakala National Park (Maui)

To visit Haleakala National Park for sunrise at the summit, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are required to enter the park gates between 3AM and 7AM (sunrise hours).

Online reservations are $1 per reservation/vehicle PLUS you’ll pay the park entrance fee of $30/vehicle when you arrive (National Park annual passes are also accepted at the gate).

The reservation booking window opens 60 days in advance at 7AM HST. There are also a limited number of tickets released two days before.

You can make one reservation every three days with the same account. So if you want to make reservations for back to back days (in case of weather/conditions), you’ll need to do so with separate accounts (email addresses).

If you can’t get reservations for sunrise, you can enter the park anytime after 7AM without reservations. The summit is spectacular during the day and you don’t need reservations for sunset.

I strongly recommend creating an account before and making sure you’re logged in at 7AM HST because it’s not uncommon for reservations to sell out quickly.

Waianapanapa State Park (Maui)

To visit Maui’s famous black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park on the Road to Hana, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are required to visit the beach and are distributed in windows from 7AM-10AM, 10AM-12:30PM, 12:30PM-3PM, and 3PM-6PM. And they are pretty strict about exiting by the end of your window time (you can arrive anytime within your window).

It’s $5/person to enter plus $10/vehicle to park and those fees are paid when you book your time slot.

Reservations open up 30 days in advance.

Iao Valley State Park (Maui)

To visit the lush, green mountains and hike at Iao Valley State Park, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are offered for 90 minute time slots beginning at 7AM and ending at 6PM. They ask that you arrive within the first 30 minutes of your time slot.

Entry is $5/person plus $10/vehicle to park.

Reservations open up 30 days in advance.

Diamond Head (Oahu)

To hike to the top of Waikiki’s famous Diamond Head, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are offered in two hour increments beginning at 6AM (6AM-8AM, 8AM-10AM, etc.) and ending at 6PM. If you’re parking onsite, they ask that you arrive within the first 30 minutes of your reservation window.

Entry is $5/person plus $10/vehicle to park.

Reservations open up 30 days in advance.

Tip: I recommend booking one of the first two time slots because there isn’t much shade on this hike and it gets pretty hot.

Hanauma Bay (Oahu)

To snorkel at Oahu’s pristine Hanauma Bay, you must make reservations in advance here.

Entry times are staggered in 10 minute increments from 7AM to 1:20PM with roughly 1000 slots being assigned in advance every day.

Reservations can be made two days in advance and they open at 7AM HST. They’re usually gone in minutes (if not seconds).

If you’re unable to get an advanced reservation, you can try for a day of, walk in ticket. They open at 6:45AM and they only have a limited number available. Everyone in your group needs to be present when you purchase your tickets in person.

There are no reservations for parking and it’s first come, first serve. $3/vehicle.

It’s $25/person to snorkel at Hanauma Bay (12 and under, active military, and locals with HI ID are free).

The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday (CLOSED MONDAY AND TUESDAY) from 6:45AM-4PM. Last entry is at 1:30PM, the beach is cleared at 3:15PM and you have to leave the facility by 4PM.

Jellyfish patterns can also affect whether or not the bay is open so double check the day before/day of.

USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor (Oahu)

If you want to take the boat tour at Pearl Harbor out to the USS Arizona, it’s recommended to make advance reservations here.

Online reservations are guaranteed a specific boarding time to go out to the USS Arizona. If you’re unable to get an advance reservation, you can wait standby when you arrive. The line could be short (15 minutes or so) or long (hours) and it just depends on the day (if they’re having problems with the loading dock sometimes they don’t take many from the standby line) and the time of day.

Reservations are supposed to open up 60 days in advance, but keep an eye on your exact dates, because lately they’ve actually been opening up about 57ish days in advance???

They also release a small batch of tickets the day before.

The boat ride out to the USS Arizona is free, but it’s $1 to make the reservations online.

They recently started charging $7/vehicle for parking at Pearl Harbor.

Haena State Park / Kalalau Trail (Kauai)

If you want to hike Kauai’s famous Kalalau Trail, you must make advance reservations here.
You’ve got three options here:

1) Parking & Entry: This is the most flexible option and also the most limited. THESE RESERVATIONS SELL OUT IN LESS THAN A MINUTE. There are three time slots available: 6:30AM-12:30PM, 12:30PM-5:30PM and 4:30PM to sunset. You can purchase multiple time slots if you want to stay longer. It’s $10/timeslot (parking) plus $5/person and you have to reserve every person when you initially book. Everybody has to arrive in the same car and your ID needs to match the reservation.

2) Shuttle & Entry: If you can’t get parking at the trailhead, there’s also a shuttle option. Shuttle reservations are $35/person (16+), $25/person (ages 4-15), 3 and under can ride free. The shuttle runs every 20 minutes 6:20AM to 6:40PM.

3) Entry Only: If you’re a Hawaiian resident (with HI ID) or someone WITH a Hawaiian resident, you can purchase entry only for $5/person with no advance reservations. Also, if you’re walking or biking to the trailhead you can do this option. But there is NOWHERE to park in the area to walk in. So this really only works for those with bikes or who are staying close enough to walk. They will tow your car if you park outside the designated areas.

The reservation window opens 30 days in advance at 12AM HST. The parking & entry option usually sells out in a minute, but the shuttle availability will last longer.

There are a TON of FAQs here including the possibility of snagging a canceled reservation.

Other Things to Book in Advance

Hawaii is a busy place these days! Besides the state and national parks above, here’s a handful of miscellaneous things you should make reservations for in advance (if they’re on your radar):

Mama’s Fish House (Maui): The iconic spot is the most popular restaurant in Hawaii and dinner reservations usually start filling up about 6 months in advance (they open up bookings 18 months in advance). Make reservations through their website and if the dates you want are already booked, you can join a waitlist. Most people have pretty good success getting in on the waitlist (even if it’s for lunch).

Old Lahaina Luau (Maui): Honestly, any luau you’re planning to attend you should book early, but most people are usually shocked how far out the Old Lahaina Luau books out. Book it as soon as you know your dates (I think they open at the six month window). They also have a waitlist.

Kualoa Ranch UTV Tour (Oahu): Everybody loves Jurassic Park so getting to ride UTVs where they filmed the movies is very popular. The ranch offers a lot of different tours but the UTV tours usually book out a couple of months in advance.

Spa Reservations: If you’re staying at a resort with a spa (or planning on visiting one), don’t wait until you arrive to make your reservations. I’d make them at least a month in advance.

Tee Times: Same for golf, reserve your tee times well in advance.

Dining Reservations: Any “fancy” or resort restaurant is likely to be booked up these days so if you like having a nice dinner every night, make your plans in advance.

P.S. Thanks for sticking around and reading this whole post! If you have ANY questions about planning your trip to Hawaii, you can join my free Facebook group here. I’m there answering questions every day and there are 7500+ other friends who have a ton of Hawaii information to share!

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