Five Easy Nature Walks on Maui

January 19, 2018

One of the true pleasures of being on Maui is being able to go on early morning walks surrounded by nature, delicious food and beautiful views. Unlike hikes, which require some planning and frankly, some endurance, these walks are all relatively short and simple, with no altitude gains, and can be done with children. With the exception of the first one, these all feature paved or partially paved paths and can be completed wearing flip-flops. Here are five easy nature walks, listed alphabetically, we recommend to all visitors and residents of Maui.

Hanomanioa Lighthouse on the King's Highway Trail (Makena)
This is an easy walk in that it's only about 1.5 miles to the lighthouse. What makes it somewhat difficult, though, is the terrain. The trail is flat, but the entire walk is on volcanic rock. As long as you're wearing proper footwear, not flip-flops or open-toed shoes, you'll be fine and will be able to enjoy the Mars-like surroundings on the walk. The trail follows the ocean coast, so the views can be stunning. The lighthouse itself is a bit of dud. The only thing that could live in that house is a tiny bird. It's more accurate to call it a light beacon. But again, from the lighthouse location, you'll have incredible views of the ocean and the shoreline. To get to the trail head, drive out past Wailea and Makena until the road stops. The trail starts there.

'Iao Valley State Monument (Wailuku)
This half-mile loop around the base of the park is a plant lover's dream. The botanical garden is host to numerous plant and flower species, all clearly marked. From the park, you have perfect views of the iconic Iao Needle, a 1200-foot rock formation that seems to rise out of the valley like a tree. The Iao Valley is also a place of great cultural significance to the Hawaiian people. It is a sacred burial place of past chiefs. It was also the final battle site on Maui when Kamehameha the Great defeated the Maui army in his quest to unify the Hawaiian islands. You can learn about this and more on the park grounds. Parking is $5, free with Hawaii ID. ('Iao Valley State Monument)

Kapalua Coastal Trail
Following a partially paved, but never too rough trail, the Kapalua Coastal Trail is a simple path that runs from Kapalua Beach to D.T. Fleming Beach. The walk is 1.5 miles each way. One of the great things about this walk, besides gawking at the amazing views, is that it takes you past the relatively empty Oneloa Beach. This "hidden" cove sports a nice reef with plenty of turtles. If you bring snorkel gear, you'll be in for a treat. On days with large surf, it's also great for body surfing. Because of its location, the Kapalua Coastal Trail can get congested, but we think you should pack some snacks, take your time and check it out.

Waikamoi Nature Trail (Road to Hana)
The most difficult part of this hike is getting there. But if you're on the Road to Hana, it's a nice stop to get out of the car and stretch your legs. While there's no waterfalls, there's only a slight incline and very little mud. The trail is a nice dirt path that runs in a simple loop and takes about 20 minutes to compete. Along the way you'll see many plant varieties including trees that are over 600-years old. Bamboo and the multi-colored bark of the Instagram-favorite rainbow eucalyptus tree are two standouts. The trail is located just past mile marker 9 on the Road to Hana.

Wailea Coastal Walk
This mostly paved, 1.5 mile path takes you along the Wailea shore from Ulua Beach to Polo Beach. In between, if you start at Ulua Beach, you'll be passing in front of Wailea's gorgeous resorts on your left and some of the nicest beaches on Maui on your right. You'll see three islands-- Molokini, Molokai and Kahoolawe, and you can leave the path for a quick round of shopping or snacking at the Shops at Wailea. The beaches along the path are teeming with fish and turtles making for excellent snorkeling, especially at Ulua Beach. During the winter months, it's not unusual to see whales. Once the trail ends, if you continue along the rocky beach on a day with decent sized surf and wind, the beach literally whistles. It's a really neat phenomenon.

By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promo code VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.

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