Makena, HI: LaPerouse Bay and Hoapili Trail

Hike across Maui's most recent lava flow around a gorgeous turquoise bay frequented by spinner dolphins. Bring your snorkel gear for a refreshing dip post-hike.

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The southern portion of Maui was the last to see volcanic activity two centuries ago. Lava poured from the split vent uphill of the road, streaming down to the ocean and creating a jagged coastline and a large natural bay. The area just north of LaPerouse is the ‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Reserve. Although several guidebooks indicate that trails in the reserve lead to secluded snorkeling pools, the reserve has been closed for study and restoration.
The trail around LaPerouse Bay begins at the southwest corner of the parking area. Hike the shoreline trail, or take a short detour around some ancient Hawaiian ruins. The ragged lava shoreline hosts numerous small coves, lava arches, and tidepools. About a half-mile from the trailhead, a gorgeous little white sand beach awaits the first group to stake a claim to it. Enter a shaded grove of ragged trees, littered with the remains of rock walls, and watch for wild goats and pygmy deer.
Emerging from the grove, the trail continues ahead on an abandoned jeep trail, or deviate uphill slightly through a gate to the Hoapili Trail which parallels the shoreline trail for a ways. The Hoapili Trail—also called the King’s Highway—is believed to be an old cattle road that Hawaiians would walk barefoot. At a signpost, the Hoapili Trail continues another 2 miles to the secluded Keawanaku Beach, another good snorkeling spot. Staying on the shoreline trail will take you to the western point of Cape Hanamanioa and the southernmost tip of LaPerouse Bay for a 3-mile round trip.
Numerous other faint trails crisscross through the lava fields around LaPerouse, most leading nowhere. Please respect the ruins in the area by staying on the trails.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.6



Location: 20.599162, -156.419657

Hike southeast along LaPerouse Bay, one of the better snorkeling locations on Maui. Much of the shoreline consists of lava and coral rock. Come early in the morning to spot spinner dolphins.


Location: 20.598391, -156.418914

Pass a side trail that loops around ancient Hawaiian stone remnants (stay on trails).


Location: 20.597969, -156.418211

Pass a small lava arch. The lava fields at LaPerouse Bay are from some of the most recent volcanic activity on Maui.


Location: 20.597819, -156.417444

Arrive early and stake a claim at this small white sand beach in the middle of a lava field.


Location: 20.597743, -156.417149

A large cairn marks the route across this lava bench.


Location: 20.597382, -156.416221

Pass a large pit of dried coral. Ahead: You’ll spot tide pools that dot LaPerouse Bay.


Location: 20.596302, -156.414708

Watch for wild goats and pygmy deer along this shaded section of trail.


Location: 20.595153, -156.414098

Two surfer graves.


Location: 20.593714, -156.413126

A side trail on the left connects to Hoapili Trail (King’s Highway), which was used by ancient Hawaiians who traveled barefoot (be thankful for your rugged Vibram bootsoles). Next, the trail turns into a wide jeep track across the next lava field.


Location: 20.591291, -156.41171

Fork right to continue to Cape Hanamanioa. The Hoapili Trail enters on the left.


Location: 20.583657, -156.411994

Stop for views from Cape Hanamanioa. Backtrack to Waypoint 10 and turn right onto Hoapili Trail.


Location: 20.593746, -156.413056

Turn right onto the main trail and retrace the route to the trailhead.

LaPerouse Bay

Location: 20.598863, -156.419349

Salt and Pepper

Location: 20.598471, -156.419021

The shoreline is covered in lava and coral rock.


Location: 20.597964, -156.418056

The lava fields at LaPerouse Bay.

LaPerouse Trail

Location: 20.597899, -156.417637

The trail around LaPerouse Bay winds through recent lava fields.

Private Beach

Location: 20.597799, -156.417359

Lava Coast

Location: 20.596829, -156.415197

The shoreline around LaPerouse Bay is dotted with tide pools.

Tree Cover

Location: 20.596312, -156.414628

Watch for wild goats and pygmy deer along this shaded section of trail.

Jeep Track

Location: 20.5934, -156.412965

The trail turns into a wide jeep track across the next lava field.

Beach Trail

Location: 20.591532, -156.411254

Continue along the Hoapili Trail for 2 more miles to Kawanaku Beach.

Hoapili Trail

Location: 20.592385, -156.411769

The Hoapili Trail (King’s Highway) was used by ancient Hawaiians who traveled barefoot!

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