Hawaii Guide


Shipwreck Beach, Lanai

Shipwreck Beach is just one of the many fascinating hikes on the island of Lanai. Located on the northeast coast, the beach extends over several miles and is facing the Kalohi Channel which is the body of water that lies between the Hawaiian Island of Lanai and Molokai. The channel itself is notorious for strong currents and is home to numerous reefs.

Shipwreck Beach itself is composed of lava rock, sand and scattered boulders typical of the Hawaiian Islands and is a great site for beachcombing. The area is also constantly wracked by the trade winds which affects both the Kalohi and Auau Channels. These rough conditions make Shipwreck Beach a virtual cemetery for ships that have discovered the danger too late.

One wrecked ship in particular seems to catch visitors' attention a WW II Liberty Ship. Her hull still lies close to the shore, and the reason it has managed to withstand the turbulent conditions is because it was one of twenty two "ferrous concrete oilers" that were made between 1942 and 1944. The vessel ended up where it is because it was given residence on the Lanai reef as this was seen as the most economical way of disposal at the time. The first ever dated loss was in 1824 and involved the "Alderman Wood" which was a British Ship. Just two years on, a ship called the " London " which was carrying gold and silver in her hold suffered the same fate.

Shipwreck Beach is also widely knows for is breathtaking views and eight miles of beach who's character changes from narrow sandy areas to rocky outcrops as you move along it. A hotspot for relaxing, snorkeling and hiking (it is here the Kaiolohia Kahue trail begins) the beach is the perfect spot to view Molokai. It is however advised that because of the strong winds which surge through the Pailolo Channel separating Maui and Molokai that visitors avoid swimming as the currents are incredibly strong and unfortunately the reefs provide little protection. The wind factor also makes for poor diving, but on the other hand these may be just the conditions that wind surfers are looking for.

To get to the beach it is best to follow Highway 44 form Lanai City for about seven or so miles until there is a dirt road to the left. Take this and continue along it till you find yourself face to face with a parking facility near a ruined lighthouse. The beach is in front of the lighthouse. It is recommended that visitors try and utilize a four wheel drive to make the journey as road conditions can sometimes overwhelm standard vehicles. Try and also check road conditions before hand to. Some visitors to the beach may also prefer to bike up to the beach.