Garden of the Gods

#2 in Best Things To Do in Lanai
Garden of the Gods picture1 of 3
Garden of the Gods2 of 3
Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.7

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

When you think "Garden of the Gods," you expect lush vegetation  but not here. This barren site, also known as Keahiakawelo, hosts only strangely shaped boulders and dust. So why should you visit this apparent wasteland? First, the terrain's appearance is probably the closest you'll ever get to Mars. And second, at sunset, the orange light turns the rocks shades of fiery reds and bright purples. According to Hawaiian legend, the dry landscape occurred as a result of a challenge between two priests who were tasked with keeping a fire burning on their respective islands longer than the other. The winner would be bestowed with an abundance of vegetation. To keep up with his competitor, the Lanai priest used all of the existing vegetation to keep his fires burning, resulting in the parched land that exists today.

Recent visitors said the trek to Garden of the Gods is an adventurous drive, but worth it. Some reviewers suggested visiting after stopping at Polihua Beach since the two sites are within close proximity to one another. Travelers described the views as "surreal" and "amazing." What's more, on a clear day you'll be able to spot the islands of Molokai and Oahu.

The Garden of the Gods is about 6 miles northwest of Lanai City along Polihua Trail. Even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle to navigate the unpaved road, you should expect to travel about 45 minutes to reach the site. It is free to visit.

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More Best Things To Do in Lanai

Hulopoe Bay1 of 9
Dolphin & Whale Watching Tours2 of 9
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Hulopoe Bay

Hulopoe Bay is one of Lanai's most popular spots. Sunbathers like the wide stretch of sand, while snorkelers revel in the vibrant reefs filled with fish and native plant life. This is one of the few beaches on Lanai where swimming is safe, but only in the summer; the waves in the winter are too dangerous. If you're in Lanai during the winter months, a stop at Hulopoe Bay is still worthwhile as you can sometimes spot dolphins and humpback whales from the shore (they pass through the bay every winter).

Recent travelers recommend that you uncover the sea stars and hermit crabs in the bay's eastern side tide pools, and that you picnic in the shady areas behind the beach. If you get antsy sunbathing, lace up your hiking shoes and take a 15- to 20-minute walk along the cliffs just southeast of the tide pools to catch a glimpse of Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock. According to Hawaiian legend, a grief-stricken warrior jumped from this 80-foot rock after learning of his wife's passing. 

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