For those who like to vacation with purpose, new and beautiful reasons exist to seek out the tranquility of Lanai. On this untouched Hawaiian island, featuring few paved roads, no traffic lights, one school, and one hospital, a delightfully slower pace, and the true aloha spirit felt within moments of touching down, visitors can now experience six-day, five-night Sensei Hiking Retreats offered amid the luxurious amenities of Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort

A visitor’s first post-travel stroll around the lush, art-dotted property will remind just how alive this destination immediately feels, as winds dance through the branches of the on-site ficus forest and a surround-sound bird chorus welcomes guests to their home-away-from-home. (Within moments, it’s easy to feel pulled to stay here forever.) 

Sense of Place

Upon arrival from Honolulu — via Lanai Air charter flight, included in the resort package — the exquisite and varied landscape takes center stage. (Folks can also arrive from Maui via ferry if they prefer.) Situated on 90,000 acres in the spiritual uplands of Ko’ele, this destination’s terrain spans from dramatic seaside cliffs, best savored from a sunset catamaran sail, to mystical Cook pine forests that can be fully enjoyed on hiking excursions that fill a few of the retreat days. 

As Hawaii’s most secluded island, Lanai is home to some 3,500 people, a new project that aims to provide sustainable and affordable housing and a thriving cat sanctuary. The compact, charming “downtown” has a few shops, eateries, and art galleries lining the perimeter of central Dole Park, a community gathering space where the Lanai Pineapple Festival returns this year on July 6. There’s also a popular cinema, a lively venue for music (Lanai City Bar and Grill), and Rainbow Pharmacy — a secret hot spot for the island’s best chocolate and vinyl albums showcasing local Hawaiian musicians. 

“Move. Nourish. Rest.”

Marketed as a one-of-a-kind wellness retreat founded by Larry Ellison (Oracle co-founder, who owns 98 percent of the island) and Dr. David Agus, “with the goal of helping people live longer healthier lives through the Sensei Way,” these gatherings do their best to offer a balance of movement and rest, connection and solitude. Participants quickly bond with a small group of like-minded guests and kind, knowledgeable Sensei Guides, many of whom feel like fast friends.

lanai hiking

The curated itinerary blends picturesque and informative hiking excursions with island adventures, and wellness programming (ranging from one-on-one yoga and meditation sessions to group aquatic recovery classes and sound baths held in a light-streaked yoga pavilion). Decadent spa offerings, like the can’t-miss lomi lomi massage, prove one of the most memorable events of the whole stay, thanks to private spa hales, described as “luxurious, Japanese-inspired oases of calm.” Each one features its own ofuro bathtub, infrared sauna, steam, indoor and outdoor showers, oversized massage tables, private plunge pools, and cozy lounging areas. All activities are tailored to fit each participant’s intention and goals. 

The trip also includes island adventures, the chance to check out Lanai’s other (oceanside) Four Seasons property, and delectable dining at Sensei by Nobu, plus plenty of time to simply sink into one’s luxury accommodations. Think room service breakfasts savored on your own private porch and perhaps a free afternoon window in which to grab a poolside smoothie, taco, or vegan mochi ice cream treat before taking a dip in one of several beckoning hot tubs. 

Culinary Adventures to Savor

More memories are made during leisurely happy hours at Koele Garden Bar, where sushi snacks, edamame, and refreshing cocktails or mocktails are often eclipsed by flowing conversation with affable bartenders who help you understand what it must be like to call this hospitable island home. Afterward, the entire retreat group bonds over lengthy dinners at on-site Sensei by Nobu, inside a soaring, elegant space marked by dim lighting and a dreamy cross breeze. Fresh flavors here get featured in kohlrabi, heart of palm and gem salads, ahi tuna ginger tosazu, and caviar tacos, followed by mains like the sensational, signature black cod, Wagyu ribeye with truffle butter, or New Zealand lamb chops. The omakase menu delights some hungry diners, too. 

On another, unexpected culinary note, one especially pleasant hiking adventure was broken up by a rainbow-hued, protein- and produce-packed bento box lunch that the crowd raved about for the rest of its stay.

Plan Your Own Adventure

The next retreat at Sensei Lanai will take place November 7 through 12 (over the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend), with additional dates announced soon for both here and a sister location at Sensei Porcupine Creek in Palm Springs. Yet interested folks can also choose to visit the Hawaiian resort on their own timeline to set up island activities, mindfulness experiences, and otherworldly spa treatments. 

sensei lanai spa

Most any season works for visiting Lanai since trade winds keep things comfortable all year round. Whale-watching season begins in December and ends in May, while peak whale-watching months fall between January and early April. 

Go On, Paradise Awaits

As an added bonus to the whole experience, guests feel taken care of every step of their Sensei stay, which can be credited to the ever-attentive resort staff who respond to requests with kindness and care. Returning to one’s room after a long, full day feels extra soothing when greeted by thoughtful goodies like trigger point balls to relieve sore muscles and gratitude journals, waiting to be filled with the best-inked bits guests won’t want to leave behind.

sensei lanai staff

It’s certainly not every vacation that helps one reconnect to their body, mind, and soul, which makes these Lanai retreat offerings feel extra coveted and rare. What’s more, one can’t help but feel alive in Hawaii — a land of roaming roosters and dueling lizards who weave in and out of the multi-hued vegetation and ancient, gnarled roots with speed and stealth. Magic seems to stir in the morning breeze and starry night skies, and guests cannot help but head home feeling a renewed sense of self and immense gratitude for our big, beautiful world. 

Photo Credit: Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort / Alex Farnum