Island hopping by plane is one of the ways to get around in Hawaii, but if you fancy a boat ride you can get a ferry from Maui to Lanai/Molokai islands. You can also take a private boat or a yacht and go on a whale watching tour with champagne, but be aware of companies trying to sell you a timeshare!
Maui to Lanai by Public Ferry
Instead of a fancy and very appealing all day trip on a yacht, we booked a public ferry from Lahaina to Lanai, which was pretty spectacular. The ferry wasn’t busy at all and we could easily move around watching the amazing sea life from the top deck.
To board the ferry from Maui to Lanai go to the public loading dock in front of Pioneer Inn. To get back to Maui, board the ferry at the public loading dock at Manele Harbor. Last boat departs Maui to Lanai at 5:45pm and leaves Lanai back to Maui at 6:45pm.
For more information on prices and time schedule you can check the Maui Ferry website.
How Long is the Ferry Journey from Maui to Lanai?
It’s a quick 90 minute round trip from Maui to Lanai by a public ferry. The distance between Maui to Lanai is just over 60km, so not that far.
It costs $30 per person one way and you should be able to book your Maui ferry tickets on the day. Then just wait for your slot.
The ferry trip from Maui to Lanai can be very exciting, with dolphins spinning around, flying fish zooming through the waves and sparkling ocean splashing into the boat. Not a private yacht, but pretty good for mid budget travellers!
Through the whole journey, we spied the deep blue water for beautiful humpback whales. But unless you know exactly where and when they gonna decide to surprise you, you can forget about taking a good picture. Humpback whales are a such show offs ! They blew us all away on the boat with their water fountains, tail waving and sudden jumps. It was a truly unforgettable experience on our 3 week island hopping in Hawaii.
Timeshare Trap in Lahaina When Booking Maui to Lanai Trip
Timeshare is something we never liked as independent travellers.
On our arrival to Lahaina, the main port town for booking ferries from Maui to Lanai, we were approached by a Diamond Hotel representative, who promised us a massive discount on a 7 hour whale watching tour. Of course, we were super excited.
However we were soon revealed the hidden truth behind her generous offer. Suddenly it made sense how a $400 trip can be discounted to $180 for two.
We were explained that the timeshare involves us getting to the Diamond Hotel Resort where we would have to listen to a 90 minute presentation about the hotel, stay there all day, hang around the pool and enjoy cocktails (at our own expense)… All sounds pretty good, but our time was so limited for any of this. We wanted to see a little bit more on that day than just the hotel grounds. So we politely declined and got a public Maui ferry instead.
If you are travelling independently like us and value the little time you have on the island, check first if you have to buy a ‘timeshare’ before signing a ‘good’ deal.
Explore beyond Lahaina While Waiting for Maui Ferry
Lahaina is a village tucked away in West Maui mountains. It’s a beautiful, but a very busy and touristy place since most of the whale watching boats leave from here. The warm waters here are so inviting, that the whales come back to the bay every year to raise their calves.
If you have time till the next ferry, enjoy a drive out of the town further along the coast. As soon as you leave Lahaina, you will be able to see the beautiful coastline.
Look out for colourful stalls selling fruit and cookies. We really enjoyed delicious home made oat cookies with cranberries, yum! We finished them all by time we got back to Lahaina for our ferry to Lanai.
Maui to Lanai ferry port on Google Maps