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 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 was a man of Hawaiian nobility when Hawaii was still its own kingdom. The actual Hoapili meaning is supposedly close friend or intimate one.
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 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.
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.
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.
One you reach Kanaio beach you can turn around and head back.
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.
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.
- Hiking boots – I have two pairs of hiking boots that I love. My Columbia waterproof boots and my Salomon hiking boots. Highly recommend checking them both out!
- Sandals – LOVE these Teva’s! They are my new go to travel sandal. Shop my favorite Teva’s here. They are great to wear in the water snorkeling and also amazing for hiking in Hawaii.
- Dresses for Hawaii – Packing a few good dresses is essential for Hawaii. Dresses have become my go to on trips to help quickly put an outfit together. Revolve is one of my go to shops for beach dresses. ASOS also has great summer dresses.
- 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 Levi denim shorts are my current favorites! These high waisted athletic shorts have gone viral on instagram and for good reason, they are AMAZING.
- Sports bra – This SKIMS bra is the most comfortable sports bra you will ever wear! Trust me. I travel with 5 of them. Also, highly recommend checking out the SKIMS fits everybody bra is to die for as well.
- Agolde 90’s jeans – I actually can’t remember the last trip I have been on where I haven’t brought these Agolde jeans. I have them in multiple colors and sizes. Check out my full review here.
- Tank tops – Free people is my go to place to buy cute and affordable tank tops. I have this tighten up tank in almost every color.
- Hat – essential. Shop the newest hats at Nordstrom.
- Beach cover-up – Having at least one good cover-up is essential on any beach trip. I recommend ASOS, Nordstrom and Revolve as well.
- Tennis Shoes – I guess you could wear sandals hiking the trails in Maui but I would recommend tennis shoes or hiking boots. It can get narrow and slippery in parts. These New Balance shoes are amazing. Only problem is they sell out so fast! Blah. They look so cute with shorts too!
- Packing cubes – I always go to Urban Outfitters for my packing cubes. They have the cutest ones!
Planning a trip to Maui? Here are our best MAUI BLOG POSTS:
My husband and I have been to Maui a couple times and have written up more blog posts to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular blog posts and Hawaii travel guides to help you plan your trip. I hope it helps!
Maui general trip planning
- Guide to Visiting the Red Sand Beach– One of the best beaches in Maui!
- Hookipa Beach – (Best beach to see turtles in Maui)
- Makena Beach/Big Beach (One of my favorite beaches in Maui)
- Little Beach (also known as Oneloa Beach) – WARNING – nude beach.
- Oneuli Beach – Black sand beach
- Maluaka Beach – all around great beach
- Slaughterhouse Beach – (AKA Mokuleia Bay)
- La Perouse Beach (Bay) – great snorkeling tours here. Best if reached by boat.
Maui Hikes & Lookouts
- Sliding Sands Trail – (also known as Keonehe’ehe’e Trail) is one of the most unique hikes on Earth!
- Waihee Ridge Trail – Most Underrated Maui Hike
- Hoapili Trail – (Hike through lava fields in Maui)
- Dragon’s Teeth Hike
- Ohai Trail Loop – (Easy but Awesome)
- Leleiwi Overlook in Haleakala National Park – (Maui must see!)
- 6 Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls – The Best and Most Easily Accessible Maui Waterfalls
- 7 Waterfalls in Maui That You Can Swim In – Must see!
- 13 WATERFALLS IN MAUI YOU CAN’T MISS