This gem of a coastal trail leads 3 miles south from Waiʻanapanapa State Park to Kainalimu Bay, just north of Hana Bay. It offers a private, reflective walk on top of a raw lava field several meters above the sea, with refreshing views.
The trail, which follows an ancient footpath, packs a lot up front, so even if you just have time for the first mile, you won’t regret it. In spots the loose gravel path skirts sheer, potentially fatal drops into the sea – exercise caution and leave the kids behind.
If you plan to hike the whole trail be sure to bring water, as it’s unshaded the entire way, and good hiking shoes, as it gets rougher as you go along. The trail is indistinct sometimes, but as you are paralleling the coast the entire way it is impossible to get lost.
The route follows an ancient footpath known as the King’s Trail that once circled the entire island. Some of the worn stepping-stones along the path date from the time of Piʻilani, a king who ruled Maui in the 14th century. The trail begins along the coast just below the camping area and parallels the ocean along lava sea cliffs. Just a few minutes along you’ll pass a burial ground, a natural sea arch and a blowhole that roars to life whenever there’s pounding surf. This is also the area where you’re most likely to see endangered Hawaiian monk seals basking onshore. Note that walkway improvements begun in the fall of 2016 may alter the trail route slightly near developed areas of the park.
After 0.75 miles you’ll view basalt cliffs lined up all the way to Hana, and ironwood encroaching the shoreline. Round stones continue to mark the way across lava and a grassy clearing, fading briefly on the way over a rugged sea cliff. A dirt road comes in from the right as the trail arrives at Luahaloa, a ledge with a small fishing shack. Inland stands of ironwood heighten the beauty of the scenic last mile of cliff-top walking to Kainalimu Bay. Stepping stones hasten the approach to the bay ahead, as the trail dips down a shrubby ravine to a quiet, black-cobble beach. Dirt roads lead another mile from here south to Hana. Alternatively, you can walk inland to the asphalt road, and either walk or hitch back to Waiʻanapanapa State Park.