Kaiolohia Bay (Shipwreck Beach)

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Address Keomuku Rd, Lanai City, HI 96763
One of the most unique beaches in Hawaii with an actual ship wreck.

• Type: Tide Pools • Sand Type: Regular • Parking: Good / Plenty

Kaiolohia Bay, or simply Shipwreck Beach as it's more often called, is a truly unique Hawaiian beach. In fact, it's one of the most unique beach on any island simply because it has an actual shipwreck. This isn't a sunken shipwreck that you need to dive to see, it's a massive ship that's just sitting there offshore and it's been there for decades. But don't confuse this beach with the Keoneloa Beach (Shipwreck's Beach) on the island of Kaua'i which does not have an actual shipwreck.

The drive here from Lanai City is mostly paved and pretty enjoyable with lots of great views along the way. Getting here involves a lot of switchbacks on the way down to sea level which takes longer than going back up when you head back to town.

Once you leave the pavement you won't have too much further to go but you'll need to switch your vehicle into 4x4 mode. Assuming you rented a Jeep, you'll likely want to switch into 4H mode (not 4L) which you do by throwing the lever in 4H mode while driving at any normal moving speed (using 4L requires a different process). When you get back to pavement on the way home switch back to two wheel mode. It's best to go over this 4-wheel versus 2-wheel stuff with your rental agent.

You'll actually pass a few houses and other such beach shacks along the way and may not feel as safe as you would like but this is a relatively popular place so tourists come through here all the time. Just drive slow so you're not kicking up tons of dust to the few people that are out here.

Your rental map will tell you to stop before you hit soft sand because you don't want to get stuck out here and that's probably good advice. We kept wondering where that soft sand started and before we could find it we ran out of road to drive on but in one area where it did look soft we just gave it a little extra speed to be sure we didn't get stuck. Once at the end it's just a short walk around a bend and suddenly the shipwreck will come into view.

It's a bit of an eerie sight and really has a cool "ghost ship" feel to it but it's also still quite far away so you'll have to zoom in on your camera to get a good shot.

As for the beach itself, it's really not very good. Water access is difficult in most spots because of rocks but there can be strong winds and currents here so it's not really a place to swim anyhow. Instead, enjoy the cool views of Maui and Molokai or comb the beach for treasure. Those same strong currents wash up all sorts of treasure and trash so it's fun to poke around and see what you can find. Kids are certain to love that part at least.

Bring plenty of water and maybe some snacks because there are absolutely no facilities of any kind at this beach or anywhere along the way once you leave town.