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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

This Secret Island May Be the Most Romantic Spot in the U.S.

Swaying palm trees, secluded beaches, wild dolphins, shimmering turquoise water, and roads so quiet there's not a single stoplight—sounds like a tropical paradise far, far away, right? Far from it!

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four seasons lanaiCourtesy Four Seasons

A resort made for romance

The Four Seasons Lanai is the romantic island resort you’ve always dreamed about. Plus, it’s the winner of many accolades, like Bride’s Top Honeymoon Resorts. Plush landscaping makes walking to your chic, tech-savvy room (the curtains are controlled by a bedside touch button) feel like you’re traversing a tropical oasis, with orchids, waterfalls, thick foliage, and koi ponds. Romantic hideaway spots, including birds nest chairs for couples hidden by garden waterfalls or perched over the ocean, means there’s always a private nook for two. And there are plenty of opportunities for romantic dinners under the stars since all the delicious dining spots, including One Forty steakhouse and a branch of foodie favorite Nobu, have open-air seating with spectacular views. These are the 11 things you need to know about visiting Hawaii.

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Sweetheart rockCourtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Sweetheart Rock

An epic love story lies behind the most iconic spot on Lanai, Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), a stone outcropping next to a jutting cliff overlooking glistening Hulopo’e Bay. Legend has it that the “Sweetheart” name stems from the story of a princess and a warrior whose epic love came to a dramatic end at the rock. Wake up early to hike the short path from the resort to watch the sunrise or come later to catch the gorgeous technicolor sunset. If you officially have the travel bug now, check out these 30 other secret island escapes around the world.

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Lanai 2Courtesy Four Seasons

Wonderful water

Hulopo’e Bay, right next to the Four Seasons, is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Hawaii, according to Frommer’s Travel Guides. It’s also been named one of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii by the magazine Islands.  The protected cove beach is not only home to vibrant tropical fish, but also attracts spinner dolphins who frolic in the waters here almost every day of the year. For more unforgettable vacations, don’t miss these gorgeous pink sand beaches around the world.

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horseback ride lanaiCourtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Gallop into the scenery

There’s more to Lanai than just the beach: The center of the island rises to nearly 3,300 feet, creating natural air conditioning as you climb the twisting road. The view over the Pacific is amazing. Get the most from the dramatic forest landscape by taking an upland horseback ride with Koele Ranch. Ride together along wooded trails and valleys, spotting wild turkeys, axis deer, and sheep along the way.

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sunsetCourtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)


Thanks to no pollution and few cars (the population of the island is around 3,200), the view of the sky is picture-perfect. The Four Seasons offers a star-gazing picnic complete with decadent desserts, glasses of bubbly, powerful binoculars, and cozy blankets so you can gaze at the constellations in style. Even more breathtaking—these 20 beautiful sea caves around the world.

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UTV lanaiCourtesy Four Seasons

Adrenaline rush

Love isn’t the only thing that will make your heart beat faster on Lanai: UTV adventures with Polaris Off-Road Adventures let you zip through the forests and trails in open vehicles. You can explore the rugged outdoors as you head upland across the island’s diverse landscapes with stops at ancient temples and rare petroglyphs. Expect to get muddy!

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driving lanaiCourtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Get lost

What would a romantic island be without hidden beaches? The north side of Lanai is a maze of secluded sandy coves, sheer cliffs, and lush forests. Rent a four-wheel drive to traverse the island, then head to Halepalaoa Beach on the eastern side of the island. This golden sand here is the perfect place to relax, sunbathe, and swim in secluded bliss, often without another beachgoer in sight! The ruins of the old Maunalei Sugar Plantation wharf are nearby for a bit of sightseeing before heading back to civilization. Feast your eyes on these 20 gorgeous beaches with the clearest water in the world.

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lanai dole parkCourtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

A town to yourself

Lanai City is the tiny town at the top of this private island (Lanai is mostly owned by Larry Ellison, making it the largest private island in the world, though it’s still part of Maui). Boutique shops and small restaurants line Dole Park, named for the pineapple company that once called the island home. Linger at a cafe, learn about the island’s history at Lanai Culture and Heritage Center, or peruse local artwork at the gallery. Artist Mike Carroll can even capture favorite vacation moments on canvas with custom paintings of favorite Lanai locales.

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lanai 3Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Sail away

Some of the most spectacular views of Lanai are from the water. The best and most romantic way to see the island is by boat—especially the sheer cliffs of Kaunolu that look like a giant carved them away with a massive cake knife. You may have already caught a sneak peek on the 45-minute Expeditions Ferry from Maui, but for pure romance, go for a sunset sail on a Lanai Ocean Sports catamaran. As the sun sinks, the sea cliffs glow. You’ll be sipping champagne or a Mai Tai as the boat brings you to the ideal photo spot at Sweetheart Rock to capture the magical twilight. Keep your eyes peeled: Whales and dolphins are often in the warm Pacific waters here, too.

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Weddng lanaiCourtesy Four Seasons

Perfect place to propose

Because of all the love on Lanai, it’s a popular spot for both engagements and weddings in addition to romantic getaways. Couples looking for the perfect wedding setting, look no further; even Bill and Melinda Gates said “I do” here, right on Hole 12 of the verdant Manele Golf Course overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Next, here are 11 more amazing beaches to add your bucket list ASAP.

Melissa Klurman
Melissa is an intrepid explorer and award-winning travel journalist with more than 25 years of experience. She covers topics ranging from family travel and Disney to honeymoons and romantic beaches, and everything in between.