Hoapili Trail

Phone (808) 973-9782
4.5 stars from 2 reviews
Address 8300 Makena Road, Kihei, HI 96753
Long, rugged, and hot trail along Maui's south coast.

• General: Cost: Free • General: Photo Opportunity
• Hiking: Dogs Allowed • Hiking: Hiking
• Hiking: Length: 10+ Miles • Hiking: Level: Moderate
• Hiking: Minor Elevation Changes • Hiking: Out & Back Trail

Full Description
The Hoapili Trail is a 12.5 mile long, out and back style hiking path located near La Perouse Bay in south Maui. To get here, you'll need to take Makena Road all the way until it ends at La Perouse Bay and park there. The actual trailhead starts at the far south end of the bay so you'll have to follow the coastline south.

While the trail itself isn't overly difficult, there are some minor elevation gains along the way (around 200 feet overall). The bigger challenge here is the 12.5 mile length (one way) and the fact that there is no water and no shade out here.

This area, even in winter months, gets incredibly hot and dehydration and sunstroke are real dangers. If you go, hiking boots are a must on this rough terrain and you'll need plenty of water and supplies so you'll be hiking in the middle of nowhere. Be sure to also read Hiking Safety & Essentials.

Along the way, and especially near the end, you'll see a variety of old stone walls and structures from ancient Hawaiians. These are all considered very sacred to Hawaiians today so be respectful and never touch these structures or rocks.

While a trail does continue on beyond the 12.5 mile point, you are asked not to go any further as the trail gets rougher and isn't marked beyond that point.

Judy M
Joined: Feb 2018
Reviews: 35
Likes Received: 2
If you go, go early. This trail is amazingly hot, especially during summer months. We got here right after sunrise and after a few miles (in June no less) it got too hot so we turned around. Still worth it with gorgeous ocean views along the way.
Princess W
Joined: Jan 2017
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 0
This is a great introductory volcanic walk, and chance to picnic at the attractively secluded Kanaio Beach. Sitting in the lee of the massive shield volcano Haleakala the desolate southeast coast is dry and arid, and dominated by volcanism.

The ancient King’s Highway (Hoapili Trail) used to circumnavigate Maui. The existing trail was built by former Governor Hoapili (1824-1840) and forms part of a protected historic site. This reasonably easy 4 mile / 6.5 km walk from Keone'o'io Bay (La Perouse Bay) to the secluded Kanaio Beach, through a desolate lava field, gives a unique perspective of the mighty Haleakala (Maui’s Eastern shield volcano) and her last lava spew (approx. 200 years ago).

Whilst the elevation gain for this walk is a modest 350ft / 106 m (from 40 - 160ft / 12 – 49 m) it may seem more tiring in the heat. Set out early morning before it gets too hot. The dark basaltic lava has the wicked ability to absorb heat and throw it back at you. So, take plenty of water, sunscreen and a sunhat. Dehydration is tiring under these trail conditions.

From Keone'o'io Bay (La Perouse Bay) the trail starts off easily. The trail follows the ocean, passing through shady Kiawe scrubland. It’s a good idea to concentrate as you step over the Kiawe's taproots to glance out upon the idyllic beaches – a jumble of sand and white coral, nestled amongst dark lava coves. Picture perfect, postcard stuff.

Enroute we pass a poignant memorial nestling on a lonely promontory amongst the dark lava and gentle lacy green foliage. Surfboard ‘headstones’, in permanent repose, look wistfully out to sea. One surfboard looks like it lost an argument with a shark, or maybe it's just my imagination working overtime.

You emerge from the sheltered trail into glaring daylight to pick up the section of track heading inland across the desolate sea of contorted lava. Take the first left turn. The other track will take you down to the Light (a beacon).

This section of the trail requires more vigour and good footwear (boots, with ankle support, are best). A lot of money, and effort, have gone into maintaining this trail through such rugged landscape. It’s a privilege to have free access to such a path. The lava fields would be inaccessible without it. The crushed rock section eventually morphs into a rougher mix of rock and volcanic rubble making the going a little slower. The commanding 360-degree vistas compensate for the heat and lack of shade.

Black lava stains, from Haleakala’s last dummy spit, finger her massive flanks and a series of Cinder Cones sit like pimples, demarking the southwest rift zone (similar to those in her ‘crater’). This is volcanism writ large!

From this angle she is so broad it is difficult to comprehend her height of 3,055m / 10,023 ft. It really looks like you might be able to pop up to the summit for afternoon tea! Part of the confusion stems from the fact that Haleakala forms 75% of the island of Maui. Perfectly symmetrical strata volcanoes are easier to read, and appreciate, than the dumpier shield volcano.

The absolute stillness, and relentlessness of the broody lava field, instils a sense of melancholy. Occasionally we pass an oasis of verdant greenery, where the lava has no stranglehold; otherwise it seems lifeless, until we see the silhouette of a family of goats, crossing the track ahead of us. They vanished as quickly as they appeared and we are left feeling that we are being watched!

We reach the remote Kanaio Beach in time for lunch. It’s an excellent picnic spot and a chance to dip our feet into the cool ocean. The log ‘sofa’ swing is an unexpected touch of whimsical charm.

I highly recommend this as an excellent companion walk to any of the summit trails. It may not be as long, or challenging, but it loans perspective on the volcanism of the area. Aside from all that it’s just a great day out in nature. You will come home pleasantly tired.

Happy & safe hiking, and watch out for goats

The lava is razor sharp so be careful where you place your tender hands and feet. When swimming here, consider surf shoes etc.

Spinner Dolphins:
A heads-up if you’re coming to Makena Bay to watch the dolphins. We’ve just learnt that it’s no longer PC to disturb them in any way (including swimming with them). The Spinner dolphins come into quiet bays for protection from predators whilst they rest (they hunt at night) and attend to their young. Sadly, our contact has a negative impact.

No Souvenirs:
Visitors are asked to respect historical sites. Removing lava, coral or plants from this historic trail will invoke the wrath of Pele and the authorities alike.

Goats on the track:
If approached by a ram it’s a good idea to quietly back-off and avoid eye contact.
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