Maui’s shoreline stretches a spectacular 120 miles. With more than 80 beaches for you to feel the sand between your toes, it would be simple and fabulous to spend your entire trip along the coast. But you’d be missing out. There is more to Maui than the beach. Plan your trip correctly and you can climb craters, hike through a bamboo forest and even weed your way through a taro patch.
Hike to the House of the Sun
Hoping Mother Nature will deliver a momentous sunrise, visitors flock to the top of the Haleakalā Crater. But once the sun is up and shining (rain and clouds aren’t unheard of, so come prepared with layers) don’t be in a rush to get back to sea level. Hiking Haleakalā National Park comes with rewards like incredible views and possibly spotting an endangered nēnē (Hawaiian Goose).
Park Naturalists offer 30 minute guided hikes from the summit area on Keonehe’ehe’e or Pā Ka’oao Trail. Both trails are less than 0.5 miles round trip. No reservations are needed for the daily hikes, but they depend on staffing, so check at the Haleakalā Visitor Center when you arrive.
Every Thursday, the Park also offers a guided hike through the Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve on the bird-loop trail. The three hour hike covers 1.25 miles (round trip) of private land. You can only hike the Waikamoi Preserve if you are with a guide. Don’t let the short distance fool you, this hike is best suited for serious hikers, interested in learning about the plants and animals that call the area home. Come prepared with layers and rain gear. Hiking boots, not sneakers, are a must. Advance reservations are required.
Tradition, Trails and Taro
Less than half an hour’s drive south of Hana, past the twists and turns, waterfalls and roadside fruit stands, you’ll find the warmer, softer side of Haleakalā National Park along the lower, lush slopes of Kīpahulu District. The hike to the freshwater pools of ‘Ohe’o Gulch is better described as a short walk, making it a nice activity for visiting families. It’s just a half-mile (round trip) on the Kuloa Point Trail. The pools are closely monitored by the Park Service, and when Mother Nature cooperates, visitors are allowed to swim and take in the view from the water. Save some energy to hike the neighboring Pīpīwai Trail. With an 800-foot elevation change each way, the 4-mile (round trip) trail travels through a bamboo forest before delivering you near the base of 400-foot Waimoku Falls.
The trail is clear and easy to follow, but for insights beyond what you can discover on your own, try a guided tour. Park Ranger tours are available by reservation on Sundays. However, there’s a history to the area that can’t even be told by park employees. It includes more than geography and plant names. Long before the Kīpahulu District was a National Park, it was home to Hawaiians who lived off the land fishing and farming. A guided hike with Kapahu Living Farm, gets visitors access to a section of the park that’s normally off limits, a traditional wetland taro farm. You’ll pull off your hiking boots, and sink your toes into thick mud to learn hands-on about the dirty job of growing taro.
Caves, Cliffs and the Coast
The glimpse you get when you pull into the parking lot at Wai’ānapanapa State Park is just a tease of things to come. A mostly paved and level trail runs along the coast and down stairs to a black pebbly beach complete with a lava tube. Call it a scenic day on the shore, hike to the freshwater caves or spend more time hiking along the coast. Numerous neighborhood fruit stands line the road into the park, offering a perfect opportunity to pick up a last minute home grown snack.
Worth the Climb
Perfectly planted on the pastures of Hana Ranch, Fagan’s Cross was built in honor of Paul Fagan. He established cattle ranching in Hana, built the baseball field and the town’s landmark hotel and restaurant now known as Travaasa Hana. His minor league San Francisco Seals used the diamond for spring training in the late 1940s. The hike up is less than a mile up on a paved, narrow road. Pay notice to the use of the word up – twice. The huffing and puffing is worth it and you’ll understand why when you reach the top and get a bird’s eye view of Hana. Early risers can take advantage of cooler conditions and head up with the sun.
Where to stay in Maui