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Kihei, Hawaii, United States

King's Highway, Hoapili Trail, Maui

Scramble over the desolate lava beds of Eastern Maui to reach a secluded beach.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4.0 miles / 6.4 km
Duration: Half day
Overview: Maui might be the second youngest of the volcanic chain of Hawaiian islands, but it doesn't see much geological activity these days. Not that you can tell on this hike, since the 200 year old lava beds you must cross to reach the secluded Kanaio Beach seem relatively new.

Elevation gain:
• 350ft (from 40 - 160ft)

• The Hoapili Trail can be quite barren and exposed, so remember to pack plenty of water and particularly so on hot days.
• Despite what you may read elsewhere, South Makena Road is paved throughout and completely suitable for all vehicles including rental cars which are restricted against traveling on some other roads on Maui.

Alternate routes:
• At POI#5 take the path towards the ocean to visit the Hanamanioa light.

Points of Interest


Parking & Trailhead

Finding the trailhead from this hike is pretty easy - just keep on driving along Makena Road until you run out of road. Some folk keep driving a little further on the rough lava to a slightly closer parking lot next to the ocean, but that's not necessary.

Black Lava & Yellow Sand

Initially the trail traces the route of the coastline through patches of kiawe woodland and beaches scattered with sand and white coral, contrasting sharply with the black of the lava outcroppings.

Surfers' Memorial

Whether or not this collection of broken surfboards and crosses is a true memorial to surfers lost at sea here is unknown, but it does provide a for a dramatic landmark. (Approx POI location)

[JCT] Left Turn

Suddenly the trees and bushes stop, and you're confronted with nothing but miles of jagged rock. Thankfully trails of crushed rock have been created here to make the path to Kanaio Beach a relatively easy one.

When you reach the lava beds take an immediate left turn parallel to the woodland, before taking a right - then it's a straight shot to the beach.

[JCT] Straight ahead

Unless you want to take a half-mile excursion out to the Hanamanioa light, continue straight towards towards the beach.

Kanaio Beach

This small pebbly beach is an oasis of vegetation, having escaped being overcome by the most recent of the lava flows. Enjoy the views while perched on the makeshift swing here, before heading back.

Hanamanioa Light

More of a lamp post than a light house, a side trip to Hanamanioa Light won't inspire many photo opportunities, but is is an excuse to enjoy a little more of this Maui coastline.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.
If you don't care about history or get bored easily, this is not the hike for you.
Part of the beauty of this trail is getting to walk on the EXACT same pathways walked by Hawaiian royalty in the 1700s. Wear ankle support, as the rocks are rather large you will be walking over and it's easy to misstep and get a twist.
This trail is rather confusing when it comes to the deviation towards the lighthouse, so just pay attention and don't go towards the shoreline when it splits off, as it dead ends. Go straight to continue to the private beach.
GORGEOUS views of the backside of sacred U'lupalakua.
If you get here at 7 AM, you should be able to catch the pods of spinner dolphins coming in. They rub their bellies on Makena Bay's rocks to clear off dead skin. Otherwise not much wildlife or plant life to see, as the lava field is very barren.

NATURE NOTE: Be cautious of the rams in the lava field, especially during the fall. They are out to protect their young, and will walk to you to see what the noise is. If you encounter one back away slowly while dropping your eyes. I was alone on the trail and one startled me. Had probably been watching me for some time.

Visited on Oct 30, 2013

by knucktatz on Mar 29, 2014

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