If you’re looking to go hiking on Maui, the Hoapili Trail is one of the great Maui hikes to consider.
This may be the best hike in South Maui.
There are many reasons that hiking the Hoapili Trail (aka Kings Highway) can be the perfect activity for your first trip to Hawaii!
What to see hiking the Hoapili Trail
1. See the great scenic La Perouse Bay
The hike across lava fields starts from La Perouse Bay!
2. See the great scenic coastal views along the Hoapili Trail
3. See a sea arch
4. See a tide pool
5. See the “backside” of Haleakala
6. Hike across Maui lava fields!
It’s a lava hike on Maui! (aka hike across old lava flows from a Maui volcano)
And those are the highlights of hiking the Hoapili Trail!
This is surely an “only in Hawaii” type of experience (or… “only in very few parts of the world” type of experience…) so it can be a very worthy experience… if you’re looking for this sort of thing of course!
More info and pictures below!
According to the State of Hawaii:
In a time when walking was the only way to traverse the land, trails were built to connect communities to the ocean and each other.
Today, 2 miles of the Hoapili Trail remain, from [the trailhead at La Perouse Bay] to Kanaio Beach
Read more (pdf).
What to pack for hiking the Hoapili Trail
Hawaii is HOT, and you will be walking across black rocks (aka hot surface). So, be sure you are prepared with WATER and SNACKS at the least.
SHOES: It is a bad idea to do this hike in flip flops or sandals, even if they are hiking sandals. You are walking across lava rocks, and even small specks of lava rock can be SHARP! So it will be best to wear closed-toe shoes. It will also be best to wear sturdy shoes. Trail running shoes or hiking shoes would be most ideal. The thicker your soles the better since walking across lava rocks can be rough.
See more about what to bring when hiking in Hawaii.
Dolphins in La Perouse Bay?!
Well, I did not see any dolphins at La Perouse Bay. But there are some signs around asking you to keep your distance from them, so presumably dolphins are regular visitors to La Perouse Bay! Maybe you’ll see a pod of dolphins swimming out in the distance when you hiking along the coast!
Be sure to read the dolphin signs when you’re there!
Among 2 of the top spots to hike the lava fields in Maui:
- Hoapili Trail
- Waianapanapa Coastal Trail
Below is more of the Maui lava fields you’ll see as you’re hiking Hoapili Trail from La Perouse Bay!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
- Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- Do you need water shoes for Hawaii?
- Individual swim float for snorkeling and swimming
- THE top things to pack for Hawaii
- Tours and activities to see the best of Maui
- Popular Maui snorkeling tour: Molokini and Turtle Town snorkeling
Save the Maui video playlist to watch on youtube later!
Explore the outdoors all over Maui:
- Driving to the top of the Haleakala summit
- Things to do in West Maui with amazing views
- The big list of 50+ things to do on Maui (mostly free and outdoors!)
IMPORTANT!!! If you want to do the back road to Hana, be sure to check the Maui County government website before you go. As of early June 2022, it is not possible to drive the Road to Hana as a loop because of a bridge repair. This is expected to take 2 months. You can still drive the Road to Hana as an out-and-back.
More about hiking the Hoapili Trail aka the Kings Highway
And getting to La Perouse Bay
You do need a car to get to La Perouse Bay and hike the Hoapili Trail
This is one of the reasons why it can be good to have a rental car on Maui for at least a few days! The bus will not get you anywhere near this part of South Maui. (The nearest bus stop is around 7 miles away.)
It’s a scenic drive to get to La Perouse Bay!
La Perouse Bay is located at the far south area of South Maui.
The further south you go, it’ll start to become a drive right along the coast at times!
And then, the final drive to La Perouse Bay will be a drive past lava fields.
La Perouse Bay marks the end of the road. It’s as far as you can drive in South Maui!
The road will take you directly to La Perouse Bay and the parking lot
There were portable toilets at the parking lot when I was there in January 2020.
Take in the views at La Perouse Bay!
Head over to the trailhead
So there are a few different ways you can do this hike. Basically, you can choose what you want your “destination” to be, and you can make it a shorter hike or a longer hike.
Even as a “shorter” hike, for the best views it will be best to think of this as a minimum 2 hour hike round trip. It’s quite possible to make it longer if you go further.
That said, even just starting the hike from La Perouse Bay a little bit will be a hike across lava fields with ocean views, so you may think a shorter hike than that is worth it too.
So at the trailhead, which you will see once you are at La Perouse Bay, there is a trail map.
You can take a look at that (and take a picture of it) to decide what route you want to do.
Here are the 2 basic options:
- Hike the Hoapili Trail to Kanaio Beach
- Hike the Hoapili Trail to Hanomanioa Light
Or… you can do both! Hike the side trail to Hanomanioa Light, and then onwards to Kanaio Beach.
I stuck with the trail that was closest to the coastline, so pictures are from hiking to Hanomanioa Light. (Actually it was a small beach area a little past the “light.”)
I hiked to the area that juts out in the picture above, which is a little past the Hanomanioa Light (google maps), and then turned back.
The Hanomanioa Light
The “beach” past Hanomanioa Light
And that’s a bit of what it’s like to hike the lava fields in Maui!
What to do after your Maui lava hike?!
Snorkeling near La Perouse Bay
Snorkeling can be the perfect post-hike activity!
The main snorkeling spots in South Maui are down the road from La Perouse Bay. You will pass many snorkeling spots as you drive to La Perouse Bay and the Hoapili Trail, so you can take your pick! In the order closest to Hoapili Trail, so from south to north:
- Kanahena Beach aka the dumps (see Ahihi Kinau natural area reserve)
- Ahihi Cove (see Ahihi Kinau)
- Makena Landing (see South Maui activities or Maui snorkeling spots)
- Maluaka Beach aka Turtle Town
Or, if you just want some beach time without necessarily needing a spot for good snorkeling (aka where are the sandy beaches), you can try these beaches on your drive back from La Perouse Bay:
- Makena Cove
- Makena State Park (Big Beach and Little Beach)
- Oneuli Beach
- Maluaka Beach aka Turtle Town
And, if you see a Jawz food truck as you are driving in South Maui, stop for the famous Maui fish tacos!
See the list of things to do in South Maui.
DO pack some snacks or picnic food (and water!) on your day trip to La Perouse Bay!
The further south you go, the less shops you’ll find. It can be a good idea to just buy a few gallons of water at Walmart when you get to Maui and stick it in your car so you won’t have to worry about finding water in case your Maui adventures take you to some more rural areas of the island! Buy a few boxes of triscuits or something and stick that in your car for “emergency food” too. (Salty snacks can be perfect to replace the sodium you’ll be losing from sweating so much hiking in hot weather.)
For another “off-beat” spot or less visited area of Maui, try the far north area of West Maui.
More lava fields in Hawaii
- The Waianapanapa Coastal Trail in Waianapanapa State Park (aka the black sand beach state park)
- If you’re also headed to the Big Island, see the list of great places to see old lava flows
Plus be sure to see the top Maui hikes to do for a short trip to Maui!
HAPPY HIKING THROUGH SOME MAUI LAVA FIELDS ON KINGS HIGHWAY!