The Waianapanapa Coastal Trail is a hiking trail in Hana located off of the Hana Highway.
This is one of the best hikes on the Road to Hana!
Which also means it’s one of the best things to do in Hana!
It extends for a few miles, but you don’t need to do the whole trail in order to see the amazing views!
The Waianapanapa Coastal Trail is located in Waianapanapa State Park.
It’s home to THE famous black sand beach of Maui.
The hiking trail that you can access from the black sand beach is the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail. This is also called the Piilani Trail, and it’s also called the Ke Ala Loa O Maui Trail. This is all the same.
This is a grand coastal hike across Maui lava fields.
The hiking trail is nearly entirely along the coast line!
This means grand ocean views as you are hiking!
You will also see a number of unique rock formations along the way.
Looking at the black sand beach as the main area of the state park, the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail extends in both directions of the coastline.
Below will be focused on hiking the first part of the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail to the north.
It also goes to the south, and that is the side of the Waianapanapa State Park cabins.
Now that Hawaii state parks has the Waianapanapa State Park reservation system in which you must reserve a time slot for visiting, it makes knowing what you want to do once you’re there a bit more important!
As of spring 2021, the reservation is based on 2.5 to 3 hour time slots.
If you will be happy with making your trip to Waianapanapa State Park mostly about the black sand beach only, then you can be fine with just 2 hours no problem.
But if you have plans to hike even just a part of the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail that comes with grand ocean views, then that’s when the amount of time you have can start to matter more!
If you only want to do a part of the trail, it’s also possible that you’ll be more than fine with 2 hours. It can still be worthy to even hike just part of this trail, which you can do with 2 hours of time at Waianapanapa State Park.
Below will give you an idea of how long it takes to hike to certain points along the trail so you can judge the possible time it takes a little better!
The times listed are based on how long I personally took to get to each spot.
This of course means it might be different for you!
You might be quicker, or it might take you longer!
You may spend more time taking in the views in a certain spot, etc etc! I was generally going at a leisurely pace.
I also stopped often to take pictures.
The official hiking trail info for the Piilani Trail to Hana Airport
The Waianapanapa Coastal Trail’s official name is Ke Ala Loa O Maui Trail or Piilani Trail.
According to google translate, “Ke Ala Loa O Maui” means “the best road of Maui” in the Hawaiian language.
The trail sign you will see off to the left side of the black sand beach. 👇
Pictures below from hiking in Waianapanapa State Park!
More photos/info below, but first...
Most people do the Road to Hana as a day trip.
But you can stay overnight in Hana too so you can take your time exploring the lush and quiet East Maui!
Best places to stay in Hana:
It's very possible to do the Road to Hana on your own, but you can also leave the planning to someone else.
Road to Hana tours:
- Classic Road to Hana: Guided Road to Hana tour with lunch
- Road to Hana from above: Road to Hana helicopter and waterfalls tour
- Private luxury tour: Road to Hana private tour in luxury SUV
Hiking the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail to the north
Hiking to the north means that you will start at the black sand beach.
From the parking lot, you’ll follow the signs to the black sand beach.
Or first, you can walk the Pailoa Bay overlook trail to take in more ocean views! (Or save this for the end when you have a better judge of time.)
So heading towards the black sand beach, you’ll first come across the black sand beach overlook.
Take in the views of Pailoa Bay!
You’ll also be able to see the trail that you’ll be hiking.
👆 You will be hiking along the coastline there.
Then after you’ve taken in the views from above, you can take the stairs down to the black sand beach!
Once you get down to sea level, off to the right side of the beach as you are facing the ocean, there’s the black sand beach lava tube.
Take a walk through that!
Then you can get up close and personal with the black sand beach!
When you’re ready, you can walk all the way across the black sand beach to the left side.
You’ll see a trail. That’s the trail you want to take!
👆 The start of the trail from the black sand beach.
And from here, we’ll start the trail timings!
Starting point from the black sand beach will be 0 minutes.
The times noted below are how long it takes to hike there ONE WAY. (Or, around how long it took me to get there anyway.)
So you’ll want to double the time to account for the time it’ll take to get back.
Maybe you’ll be quicker on the way back since you won’t stop so often to take in the views.
Or maybe you’ll take longer on the way back because you’re more tired.
Hiking time: 0-5 minutes one way
Hiking time: 5-10 minutes one way
Hiking time: 10-15+ minutes
And then hiking further along in this section of Waianapanapa Coastal Trail is where you can find another black sand beach. Or maybe it’s a black rock beach. From far away it looks more like a black rock beach, but it also looks like there might be some black sand hiding beneath the rocks! Either way, another beach!
👆 It does look like there’s some sort sort of trail directly behind this beach if you want to go down to it.
And… back to the famous black sand beach!
And finally… TAKE CARE! Sea cliffs can be dangerous! All it takes is one mis-step for a great experience to turn BAD!
And that’s a bit of what you can see with 30-45 minutes of hiking the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail!
If you will be giving yourself 2+ hours in Waianapanapa State Park, you may be interested in hiking across lava fields all the way to the Hana Airport!
Hiking from the black sand beach to the Hana Airport along the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail took me around 1.5 hours one way. See pictures of hiking to Hana Airport!
More for your trip to Hana! Post-hike food in Hana?!
Or buy the famous Road to Hana banana bread on your way to Waianapanapa State Park!
Plus see the big list of stops on the Road to Hana!
Plus, if you are interested in the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail, you may also be interested in these top activities on Maui:
- Waihee Ridge Trail
- How to spend one day in the West Maui mountains
- Kapalua Coastal Trail
- Hoapili Trail (more Maui lava fields!)
- Pipiwai Trail
HAPPY HIKING IN WAIANAPANAPA STATE PARK!
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