Maui Hiking Guide

June 5, 2018

Maui, the Valley Isle, is blessed with many great hiking opportunities. Whether you've never hiked in your life, you're hiking with small children or you're a seasoned hiker, Maui has you covered. Going from easiest to hardest, here is a list of hikes that we recommend to everyone who lives on or is visiting Maui.

But first, here are some basic safety tips:

  1. Know your capabilities. If you feel frightened or worried, or you begin to feel overly tired, just stop. There's no harm in turning around.
  2. Bring plenty of snacks and water. Maui is hot and humid. You need to stay hydrated.
  3. Wear a hat and bring sunscreen.
  4. Mosquito repellent is optional, but if you tend to get bites, we recommend it.
  5. If there are signs that say "beware of flash floods" and the weather looks like rain (or it's raining), we recommend you don't proceed. The last thing you want is to be stuck on the other side of the stream, or worse, caught in a raging river.

Kapalua Coastal Trail-- Kapalua
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.75 miles from Kapalua Beach to D.T. Fleming Beach
Easy to navigate, the trail is part paved/part dirt and rock. You'll be walking between two of the most popular beaches on Maui with lots of beautiful shoreline views. Appropriate for anyone who can walk 1.75 miles, or 3.5 if you plan on walking back.

Wailea Beach Path-- Wailea
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: Approximately 1.5 miles from Polo Beach to the end
The path basically runs the length of Wailea's gorgeous resorts. You'll know you've reached the end when you run out of path. If you're staying in one of the resorts along the shore, you can easily hop on the path from your hotel. If you're seeking out the path by car, there are a few public beaches with parking along the path. The path itself is mostly flat and well kept. It affords some great views of the ocean and access to beaches. There are plenty of rest spots and food stands along the way, as well as the Shops at Wailea.

'Iao Valley State Monument-- 'Iao Valley
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: The main path is about .5 miles
This hike is really more of a nature walk, and is accessible to just about everyone. There's a nice path that takes you through the park and allows fantastic views of the 'Iao Needle. As you stroll on the path, you'll see plenty of native Hawaiian plants and flowers. For a slightly more difficult walk, you can climb the stairs to a lookout. This is very safe. The only difficulty lies in the amount of steps you need to climb.

Twin Falls-- Road to Hana
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Distance: Less than a mile to the Twin Falls
As you start out towards Hana, one of the first (therefore, most busy) destinations is Twin Falls. To get to the waterfall, there's a simple dirt path to follow. Only two things may cause difficulties for beginning hikers: first, you need to cross a small stream, and second, once you get to the waterfall, you need to walk on rocks. Crossing the stream is quite simple, as it only goes ankle deep for most of the year. But after storms, the water level may be a little higher. If you have small children, you can easily carry them the 20 feet or so over the stream. Beyond the Twin Falls, there are hiking trails that take you to more waterfalls. These are more difficult trails and are only recommended for moderate to advanced hikers. Reason being, the trails can get quite steep, in some cases there are rope holds to pull yourself up. Also, the streams that need to be crossed are deeper and faster.

Pipiwai Trail (The Bamboo Forest)-- Road to Hana
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Simply gorgeous, this hike should definitely be a part of your Road to Hana experience. The trails are well maintained and even include boardwalks over the muddiest parts. There are a few places to join the trail, the most popular is parking at the Haleakala National Park Visitors Center (the lower one, not the one at the top!) There's an incline as you start the trail that may tire some, but this is generally an easy hike. It really encompasses all you could want on a Maui hike... gorgeous bamboo forests, lush greenery, a massive banyan tree and waterfalls. Plural. The first waterfall you'll see, the Falls at Makahiku, is roughly 200 feet tall. The hike ends at the majestic 400 foot Waimoku Falls.

King's Highway (Hoapili Trail)-- La Perouse Bay (past Makena)
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: Roughly 2 miles to a nice swimming/snorkeling bay
This is a flat hike. The difficulty of the hike is in the terrain. You'll be walking on lava rock nearly the entire way, so make sure you wear shoes, not flip-flops. Running or walking shoes are fine, but hiking shoes, with their harder soles are preferable. A warning for anyone new to island, don’t bring your dogs on this hike. It is rough on their paws! Along the trail, being surrounded by lava fields, it will seem like you're walking on Mars. Once you've reached the basically private cove (marked by a nice swinging chair and fire pits), if you brought in snorkel gear, you can snorkel in the nearly empty cove, as few people make the trek with gear. There is zero tree cover along the way, so wear a hat, and it's best to go in the early morning before it gets too hot.

Lahaina Pali Trail (Windmill Hike)-- Ma'alea/Lahaina
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.5 miles to the windmills
The Lahaina Pali can be done two ways, either as an up and back or point-to-point. Whether you start on the Lahaina side or the Ma'alea side, it's roughly 2.5 miles to the windmills. The hike itself is fairly steep. There are very few trees, so it can get hot, and at the top it's extremely windy. Windmills! We recommend you go early in the morning before it gets too hot and windy. During whale season, this is an excellent place for whale spotting. Another cool thing to try is hiking it during a full moon. On a clear, full moon night the trail is mostly illuminated, though, you need to bring a flashlight or headlamp, just in case.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail-- Wailuku (technically it's Wailuku, but it's about a 20 minute drive along a winding coast from Wailuku Town)
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
One of the most difficult parts of the hike is walking up the paved road to the trail head from the parking lot. It will get your blood pumping. Once on the trail, you'll gain about 1,500 feet in elevation over 2.5 miles. The trail is normally quite wet and muddy. We've never completed this hike without falling at least once, though we also tend to be rather clumsy. The views at the top of the hike, which ends at a nice platform with picnic tables, are spectacular... if there's no cloud cover. To beat the clouds, try going early in the morning. Even if you reach the top and can't see down, there are ample photo opportunities on your way up and down. During whale season, there's a good chance you'll spot whales.

Sliding Sands (Keoneheehee Trail)-- Haleakala
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Distance: Up to 30 miles or more
This hike is as difficult as you want it to be. You start this hike at the top, just past the observation area. At this point, you'll be standing at just under 10,000 feet in elevation. Some may have difficulty breathing in the thin air. It's roughly 2,500 feet down in just under four miles to the crater floor, but you can turn around at any point. Your body should tell you when to stop. Just remember, it's twice as hard to walk back up! Note that it can be, literally, freezing up there. So dress warm, in layers, peeling them off as you warm up. As you continue deeper into the crater, the hike becomes more difficult. If you reach the floor of the crater, there are many trail options to keep going.

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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