Budget Travel Case Study: Lana’i


Lana i


At first glance Lana’i may not seem like the ideal budget travel destination, but looks are absolutely deceiving in this case.

I’m not going to discuss airfare since it fluctuates wildly depending on where you live. Without a doubt though, our friends who live on the West Coast of the U.S. get more Hawaii deals than those us on the East Coast. As with any destination, make sure you are receiving email newsletters from your airlines of choice and always be on the lookout for a good deal.


At first glance, the budget lodging options on Lana’i may not seem obvious, but they are there. There are only three hotels on the island: Four Seasons Manele Bay, Four Seasons Lodge at Koele and the Hotel Lana’i.

What is important to understand when planning a visit to the island is that all the hotels are interconnected. Lana’i is small, very small, and 98% of the island is actually owned by one company, Castle & Cooke. What that means to the visitor is there is a certain flexibility towards amenity usage on the island. In other words, if you are a guest at the Lodge, you are welcome to use the beach at Manele and so forth. This relationship even extends to guests at the Hotel Lana’i.

The best bargain on the island is without a doubt the Hotel Lana’i. This small hotel is located in the middle of Lana’i City and makes for a great base from which to explore the island. The rates are frankly pretty incredible – as of November 2010 rates at the hotel range from $99-$179 a night.

These rates would be considered very competitive almost anywhere in the world, but particularly so in Hawaii, which is usually fairly expensive.

But the bargains don’t end there (resisting temptation to sound like infomercial) because I maintain that the Four Seasons is a budget friendly hotel too.

Four Seasons Lodge at Koele

Now, I’m sure that a hotel ranked in the Top 100 Hotels in the World won’t be thrilled that I consider them a budget travel deal, but I do. Here’s why. We traveled to Lana’i in September, which is shoulder season in Hawaii. Not traveling during peak season is the first way to stretch the budget. Second, since all the hotels are linked and share amenities, it only makes sense to seek out affordable luxury. For our travel dates, the Lodge at Koele was a very reasonable $221 a night. To get this rate, we took advantage of the hotel’s ‘stay three nights get one night free’ deal (which is ongoing). $221 a night is a VERY reasonable rate for Hawaii and is EXTREMELY reasonable for a hotel of the Four Seasons’ caliber. As a note of comparison, the Four Seasons Hualalai, located on the Big Island, was more than $600 per night, decidedly NOT a budget friendly option.


Lana’i is small and while there is a car rental facility, renting a car is not essential to your stay. That’s because the resorts offer shuttle service that stops at all three hotels allowing guests to easily travel to the highlands, city and beach whenever they want. The fee is $36.46 per person, regardless of length of stay. When compared to renting a car, this is a great deal and from personal experience the shuttle service is very convenient.


While the Four Seasons resorts on Lana’i may be budget friendly, eating on-site can be expensive at times. The best value we found was dinner at the Lodge, which was well priced and delicious. The worst value was the $6 fountain drink and $40 French toast and coffee combo found at Manele.

A great alternative to eating at the resorts is to dine at one of the restaurants in Lana’i City. Although there are only a few restaurants, they offer a wide range of meal options. After our first day we started having breakfast at the Blue Ginger Café which offers a varied menu at reasonable prices.

Lana i

There is also a convenience store in town where you can pick up snacks, sodas and even wine so you can avoid the resort prices. I noticed MANY fellow guests stocking up on these essentials during our stay.

While one may not consider the resort island of Lana’i a budget friendly travel option, it really is. Lodging is well priced, the island is small and easy to navigate and once you get your bearings, cheap eats are possible to find as well.

The best part of Lana’i is always free though – the chance to disconnect and just relax.

Manele Bay, Lanai

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

5 thoughts on “Budget Travel Case Study: Lana’i”

  1. I was just recently on Oahu, and I found it really easy to travel on a budget there, too. Everyone assumes that only rich people go on vacation in Hawaii. But that’s so not true! It really can be affordable if you know the right way to approach it.

  2. This post is the perfect way to get you started on Lanai. It gives you a 360-degree sense of the hotel scene, restaurants and whether or not car rental is required.

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