Hoapili Trail (Hike through lava fields in Maui)

This out of the way trail is NOT what you would expect when hiking in Hawaii. It takes you to a completely different side of Maui that most people never experience. The stereotypical Hawaiian hike involves you trekking through a lush rainforest to a mountain waterfall. The Hoapili Trail leads you through fields of craggy lava rocks along the Maui shoreline. 

It’s seriously shocking to see so little vegetation on this hike. At times the barren rock feels like it was lava that just dried and hardened yesterday! The ocean waves crashing into the lava rock fields create some really impressive geographic features. You will see amazing tide pools, blow holes, and miniature beaches along the way.

Hoapili trail through a lava field
Hoapili trail through a lava field

Hoapili Trail Details

  • Distance: 6 miles out and back, BUT still enjoyable if you only go out ½ mile out and back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: less than 100 ft
  • Open 24 hours a day
  • What You Will See: very little vegetation, trail crosses fields of lava rock along the Maui shoreline
  • No cost
  • Plenty of parking
  • Other names: La Perouse hike, La Perouse Bay hike
  • Bathrooms: Porta potties in parking lot

Hoapili Trail Location/Directions

The Hoapili Trail takes off from La Perouse Bay on the southeastern end of Maui.

Maui doesn’t have a highway that completely circles the island, so there are various points where the highway simply comes to an end. One of those dead ends is at La Perouse Bay or the Hoapili Trailhead. 

To get to this area you need to come from the central part of the island and then along the southern coast via Highway 31. It is about a 50 minute drive from the airport, and about an hour and 15 minutes from the Kaanapali resort area. It is well worth the drive. It would be very difficult to access without your own car.

Hoapili Trail History

This trail is sometime’s called the “King’s Highway Maui Trail” which as the name implies, the trail is old enough that it was used by Hawaiian Kings to travel between their villages. The Hoapili Trail history makes it even cooler in my mind.

Hoapili Meaning

Hoapili was a man of Hawaiian nobility when Hawaii was still its own kingdom. The actual Hoapili meaning is supposedly close friend or intimate one.

Parking

Unlike a lot of spots in Maui, there are actually plenty of parking spots at the mouth of the Hoapili Trail. As the highway dead ends there is a set parking lot or even other spots along the side of the road. Thankfully there is no charge for parking or permit required to do this hike.

Hoapili Trail parking lot in Maui Hawaii
Hoapili Trail parking lot
Hoapili Trail facilities bathroom

Hoapili Trail porta potties in the parking lot

What to Expect on the Hoapili Hike

First off, even if you don’t want to go the full 6 miles (3 out and 3 back) then you can still get a great flavor for its unique offerings.

Almost immediately once you begin you will be in the middle of a lava field watching ocean waves crash onto the shore.

Keawanaku Beach

One of the near immediate payoffs of this hike is being able to access Keawanaku Beach. This beach is only about 1/4 of a mile into the hike.

It is another beach that is made up of jagged rocks and crashing waves. It won’t be one you want to suntan on, but it is still an incredibly pretty site.

I loved seeing the mini blow holes that cropped up along the shore.

Hoapili trail and lava fields in South Maui

Wide Trail That’s Easy to Follow

Unlike a number of other Hawaiian trails this one is relatively easy to follow. Even though it does feature small offshoots the main trail is still easy to follow. Most of the small diverging trails end up being small detours and ultimately rejoin the main trail anyway.

Turn Around at Kanaio Beach

If you make it all the way to the end you will be rewarded with a chance to relax at Kanaio Beach. This small beach is an awesome escape after trekking through the bright bright sun.

Kanaio Beach is decently nice, but the real perk of it is that you can expect to have very few people with you there. 

Kanaio Beach
Kanaio Beach

One you reach Kanaio beach you can turn around and head back.

Kanaio Beach on Hoapili trail in Maui
Kanaio Beach

No Shade and Powerful Sun

I love this hike, but keep in mind there are not a lot of shaded areas along the way due to the lack of vegetation. You will be under the hot sun for extended periods of time. 

Have Proper Footwear

Hiking across sharp lava rocks can be difficult on the feet. I initially started on the trail in flip flops, but soon turned around and switched to sneakers. Ideally I would have been equipped with my favorite hiking boots (if you are looking for a quality pair I highly recommend these hiking boots). 

Blow Holes and Ocean Spray

The waves crashing into lava rocks create some unique delights. I love discovering random blow holes and cooling off with the ocean spray resulting from these waves crashing into the rocks.

Keawanaku Beach
Keawanaku Beach

Conclusion

If you are looking for a unique hike that avoids a lot of the Maui crowds then you should consider the Hoapili Trail. Craggy lava rock and ocean spray help provide a truly unique experience!

What to Pack for Maui

  • Quick Dry Travel Towel – This quick dry towel is amazing to travel with. It really will come in handy when you need extra room in your suitcase.
  • Snorkeling gear – for obvious reasons.
  • Sandals – LOVE these Birkenstocks.
  • Tank tops – Free people is my go to place to buy cute and affordable tank tops (Depending on the style of course). I have this tighten up tank in almost every color.
  • Hat – essential. Shop the newest hats at Nordstrom.
  • Shorts – Anyone who is traveling to Hawaii needs a good pair of shorts. Khakis are great for guys. For women, cute athletic shorts or denim shorts are perfect for a breezy summertime look. These denim shorts are my current favorites! These high waisted athletic shorts have gone viral on instagram and for good reason, they are AMAZING.
  • Dresses– Packing a few good dresses is essential for Hawaii. Dresses have become my go to on trips to help quickly put an outfit together.
  • Beach cover-up – Having at least one good cover-up is essential on any beach trip. I recommend ASOSNordstrom and Revolve as well.
  • Tennis Shoes – I guess you could wear sandals hiking this trail but I would recommend tennis shoes. It can get narrow and slippery in parts. These Nike high tops are my current favs. They look so cute with shorts too!

OUR MOST POPULAR POSTS ON MAUI HAWAII

My husband and I have been to Hawaii many times and have written up more blog posts to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular Maui blog posts and Hawaii travel guides to help you plan your trip.

Best Things to do in Maui: 10 Cool Things to do in Maui Hawaii

The Best and Most Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls: 6 Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls

The Best Beach in Maui!: Guide to Visiting the Red Sand Beach, Maui

What to Pack for Hawaii: The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Hawaiian Islands – and what to expect on each island: What To Expect On Each Of The Hawaiian Islands

OUR MOST POPULAR POSTS ON MAUI HAWAII

My husband and I have been to Hawaii many times and have written up more blog posts to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular Maui blog posts and Hawaii travel guides to help you plan your trip.

Best Things to do in Maui: 10 Cool Things to do in Maui Hawaii

The Best and Most Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls: 6 Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls

The Best Beach in Maui!: Guide to Visiting the Red Sand Beach, Maui

What to Pack for Hawaii: The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Hawaiian Islands – and what to expect on each island: What To Expect On Each Of The Hawaiian Islands

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