Wai'anapanapa State Park, HI: Shoreline Trail

This coastside trail in Wai'anapanapa State Park packs so many photo-worthy views into its two miles that it can easily occupy half a day. Bonus: Take a post-hike dip in a freshwater cave.
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This coastside trail in Wai'anapanapa State Park packs so many photo-worthy views into its two miles that it can easily occupy half a day. Bonus: Take a post-hike dip in a freshwater cave.

Three miles from Hana, on the west side of Maui, Wai'anapanapa State Park is a coastal playground; a rugged volcanic shoreline, blowholes shooting fountains of seawater into the sky, arches of lava rock stretching into the waves, caves and lava tubes for exploring, or just the novelty of kicking back on a pristine Hawaiian black sand beach.
For the coast trail, start along a paved walkway offering views over the Pa'iloa black sand beach. A short walkway branches off the trail descending to the beach and the opening of a lava tube. Pass an old cemetery and the camping area, and where the pavement ends head left off trail to the rocky outcropping of lava for a closeup view - but not too close! - of a large blowhole and a long lava arch. You may be tempted to just park it here and watch the ocean put on its show, but there's more to see.
Back on trail, follow the path as it contours along the coast, keeping left at all junctions, past dense groves of hala (not pineapple) trees, giving more views of the ragged volcanic coastline, with more arches, blowholes, and collapsed lava tubes. Cross a narrow rocky bridge over a collapsed tube and notice the surf churning below. Descend a large rock step and continue along around the remains of an ancient heiau (temple) and through an overgrown grassy area to a spot with numerous rock wall remains from an old village with more hala and nice views. The trail continues all the way to Hana, but gets sketchy from here on - and all the best views are behind you - so this spot makes a good turnaround point.
For the freshwater caves loop, head north from the parking area to a large sign telling the legend of Princess Popoalaea and the freshwater caves. Less than half way along the quarter-mile loop brings you to the first - and only swimmable - cave. Bring an underwater light to explore the two chambers beyond the opening. The second pool on the loop is pretty murky and not inviting. Finish up where you began, and spend some time on the small, yet utterly gorgeous black sand beach.
Warning: Do not approach blowholes, and use extreme caution on the lava benches nearest the ocean, as many of these areas are unstable. Be aware of high surf conditions.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.5

Waypoints

WAI001

Location: 20.788645, -156.004077

Start the coastline trail with a big view over Pa'iloa black sand beach and lava arch.

WAI002

Location: 20.788198, -156.003503

Fork left to lave tube and Pa'iloa black sand beach.

WAI003

Location: 20.787249, -156.002303

End of paved path; head left for lava arch and blowhole.

WAI004

Location: 20.787648, -156.00153

Views of lava arch and blowhole. Caution: The rugged coast of Wai'anapanapa is pocked with collapsed lava tubes, creating numerous blowholes.

WAI005

Location: 20.785559, -155.999817

Fork left at junction.

WAI006

Location: 20.785539, -155.998829

Pass more lava arches.

WAI007

Location: 20.785228, -155.998577

Fork left at junction.

WAI008

Location: 20.784909, -155.997105

Blowhole.

WAI009

Location: 20.784563, -155.997019

Fork left at junction.

WAI010

Location: 20.784145, -155.996722

Cross rock bridge over collapsed lava tube. Peer down into the surf churning in a collapsed lava tube.

WAI011

Location: 20.78263, -155.995294

Pass the Heiau remains (stay on trail).

WAI012

Location: 20.781312, -155.993333

Ancient village ruins; stay on trail.

WAI013

Location: 20.780725, -155.992962

End of good trail. A lone hala tree grows amid the ruins of an ancient coastal village. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.

WAI014

Location: 20.788477, -156.003669

Lava tube.

WAI015

Location: 20.788806, -156.003595

Black sand beach.

WAI016

Location: 20.788972, -156.004644

Learn the mythic story of Wai'anapanapa's freshwater caves at this sign near the trailhead.

WAI017

Location: 20.789533, -156.004634

Freshwater caves: Bring a water flashlight and take a dip in one of Wai'anapanapa's freshwater caves, formed by collapsed lava tubes.

Wai'anapanapa

Location: 20.788656, -156.004022

Watch Your Step

Location: 20.78765, -156.001447

Coast Trail

Location: 20.786559, -156.001015

Wander the Wai'anapanapa coast trail for views of lava arches, blowholes, and lush hala groves.

Rugged Coast

Location: 20.785456, -155.998676

The rocky coast in Wai'anapanapa was created by the most recent volcanic activity on the eastern side of Maui.

Lava Bridge

Location: 20.784145, -155.996686

Coast Trail

Location: 20.783856, -155.996633

The rugged, surf-battered coast of Wai'anapanapa.

Hala

Location: 20.780732, -155.99291

A lone hala tree grows amid the ruins of an ancient coastal village.

Light at the end...

Location: 20.78848, -156.003579

Explore a short lava tube that opens to the pounding surf of the Wai'anapanapa coast.

Pa'iloa Beach

Location: 20.788819, -156.003518

The upper portion of Wai'anapanapa's black sand beach is covered with surf-tumbled lava rock pebbles.

Cave Legend

Location: 20.788969, -156.004601

Learn the mythic story of Wai'anapanapa's freshwater caves at this sign near the trailhead.

Cave Dive

Location: 20.789538, -156.004572