The Hoapili Trail is a South Maui hike that takes you along Maui’s South coastline, past secluded beaches, across barren lava fields, and gives you a chance to see wildlife. The lightly trafficked out and back trail is primarily used for hiking, surfing, and fishing.

This is a historic trail that was once known as the Kings Highway. The King’s Trail was a path built by King Piʻilani and his son hundreds of years ago that circled most of the island.

The trail takes you nearly ten miles but for the purpose of this post, the hike will end at Kanaio Beach (a secluded beach) which is where most people who want to hike a good chunk of the trail turn around.

Although lots of people walk a short portion of the trail to soak in the sights and then turn back. This Maui hiking trail should be apart of anyones Maui itinerary and is without a doubt one of Maui’s best hikes.

Hiking the Hoapili Trail Maui Hawaii

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In this guide, we’ll get into all the details to prepare you for a trip to South Maui. I’ll cover everything you need to know to hike the Hoapili Trail. Here’s what to expect:

  • When to hike the Hoapili Trail
  • Hoapili Coastal Trail location
  • Trail facts and information
  • Tips for hiking the Hoapili Trail, Maui
  • What to pack for your hike
  • Other Things to do nearby
  • Additional Maui planning resources
The Hoapili Trail in Maui

Maui Hoapili Trail Quick Facts

  • 💪 Difficulty: Easy/Moderate due to the harsh lava rocks
  • ⏰ Duration: 3-4 hours
  • 🥾 Distance: 5-6 miles out and back hike to Kanaio Beach

How to Get to the Hoapili Trailhead

The trailhead for Hoapili is in the parking lot of La Perouse Bay snorkeling area, which is about 3 miles past the first entrance to Big Beach (one of Maui’s best beaches). La Perouse Bay is located on Maui’s South shore in the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve.

Take Hwy. 31 all the way until it becomes a dead-end in South Maui. Then turn right onto Wailea Ike Drive until the stop light, where you will then turn left onto Wailea Alanui Drive.

Follow Wailea Alanui until it turns into Mākena Alanui (also referred to as  Makena Road). The road becomes narrow and a bit more rugged the further south you go. The road will turn from smooth asphalt roads to a bumpy ride. Keep going you’re almost there.

Once Makena road dead-ends, you’ll find the Hoapili trailhead hike in the La Perouse Bay parking lot. The trailhead itself is directly behind the La Perouse Bay sign. You will see the main Hoapili trail paralleling the shore, weaving south along the coast.

I'm Jess Traveling hiking the Old Kings Highway in La Perouse Maui

When is the Best Time to Hike the Hoapili Trail

You can walk the La Perouse hike any time of the year. This part of Maui is known for being very windy so it pays to get an early start to “try” to avoid some wind.

I put try in quotations because it is probably gonna be windy no matter what time you start your hike but the morning could help you out a bit. Plus, hiking in the mid day under the scorching sun across fields of barren lava formations isn’t always the most enjoyable.

That being said, we started hiking this trail at 4 pm so we could enjoy sunset on the way back. It was very, very windy but the sights were so breathtaking that it didn’t matter.

☀️ Travel Tip: Make sure you bring lots of water and lather on that reef safe sunscreen as the trail doesn’t provide much shade.

Lookouts of the Hoapili Trail Maui Hawaii

How Long Does it Take to Hike the Hoapili Trail Maui

The Hoapili Trail isn’t a strenuous trek but it does take about 3 to 4 hours round trip to reach Hanamanioa Point Lighthouse at Kanaio Beach and return. The rough lava field creates a harsh environment for your feet. So proper closed-toe shoes are a good idea.

The trail isn’t as much about hiking as it is exploring a side of Maui that most visitors don’t experience. Even if you choose to only walk a small portion of the trail, do it. It’s not everyday you get to trek across barren lava beds from a volcano with the most recent eruptions that happened in 1790.

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    Practical Trail Information

    The hike begins at La Pérouse Bay, named for the French explorer Jean François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse, who was the first European to anchor near Maui in the late 1700’s.

    The bay features a rocky shoreline with several small coves that lie between the rocky points. La Perouse Bay is known for great snorkeling within the small coves that dot the northern end of the bay in the nature reserve.

    You will follow the coastline for a little over a half mile passing through small patches of kiawe woodland. You’ll probably even see feral goats or pygmy deer, as they roam around these parts freely.

    Once you see a lava rock structure on the right side of the trail, a telling sign that you’ve come upon a popular surf break in South Maui known as Laps, short for La Perouse. This surf spot is for experienced surfers only as swells get big and riding waves over sharp lava rocks is not for beginners.

    The main trail will begin to gradually climb until you reach a sign letting you know that you are entering the King’s Highways and to respect historic sites and surroundings.

    From here on out you are traversing across old lava rock which make the hike difficult as you have to find your footing with every step. The trail is very straight forward and it’s clear which direction to head – south.

    The lighthouse on the Kings Highway

    If you keep going you’ll see the lighthouse at Cape Hanamanioa which looks like an old and weathered pole. Keep on the trail for another 20 minutes or so and you will reach Kanaio Beach.

    Just before reaching the beach you’ll pass a heart shaped tide pool – all I can say is magical. We so badly wanted to fly the drone but the wind was so fierce the drone didn’t stand a chance.

    At the beginning of Kanaio Beach you’ll notice the remnants or site of many old Hawaiian stone walls, once part of an ancient fishing village. Be respectful and admire from afar, don’t enter the structures out of respect for the ancient Hawaiians 

    The beach itself is covered in sun-bleached coral with a mix of black and white sand underneath. Black lava rocks jut out into the ocean.  It’s quite the sight.

    Don’t be surprised if you are the only one here, that only adds to the allure. The views from the backside of Haleakala are stunning and I felt like I was in a scene from Land Before Time as I wondered around on the lava rock examining all the funky growths coming off of the inland tide pools.

    Kanaio Beach is where most adventurers turn around.  The Old King’s Highway continues all the way to Highway 31 on the back road to Hana, but the path is less noticeable.

    If you do decide to traverse farther, another 20 minutes along the shore brings you to Keawanaku Beach covered in coral that has been bleached white from the sun.

    Hiking the Hoapili Trail, Maui Hawaii

    Travel Tips for the Hoapili Hike

    • Dogs must be leashed.
    • No Camping.
    • No Fires.
    • Bring sturdy shoes for trekking over the sharp volcanic rocks.
    • Bring ample water.
    • Sunscreen is a must.
    • Keep your distance from the wild goats.
    • Don’t take the rocks, sand or cultural artifacts. Not only is it illegal but you will be cursed! Taking these objects off the islands, you will be struck with Pele’s curse which will bring you a series of bad luck and misfortune until they are returned to where they belong.

    Hiking Gear

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    Danner Hiking Boots
    Hiking Socks
    Osprey backpack
    yoga pants for travel
    Supergoop Unseen reef safe Sunscreen
    Tank top a top long haul flight essential
    Life straw water bottle

    Hoapili Hike Travel Vlog 

    Would you rather see what hiking the Hoapili Trail is like? Joe and I filmed videos on Maui before taking off to travel the world for a bit.

    Check it out after you read this post and please subscribe or give us a thumbs up. It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free content for you to enjoy 🙂.

    🎥 Watch our Maui series on YouTube

    Volcanic cinder cones on the back side of Hana

    Other Things to do in South Maui

    Hiking Haleakala Crater in the Summit District

    More Hikes on Maui

    These are the best hikes on Maui not to be missed. Click on the blue links for a detailed post of each hike.

    • Kapalua Coastal Trail – Family friendly coastal trail in West Maui.
    • Waihe’e Ridge Trail – Intermediate hike up the Waihee ridge offering scenic coastal and valley views.
    • Pipiwai Trail – One of Maui’s most iconic hikes that takes you through an enchanting bamboo forest and ends at a 400 foot waterfall.
    • Lahaina Pali Trail – A strenuous trail up to the windmills on the West Maui mountains.
    • Sliding Sands – Difficult hike that takes you to the crater floor at the summit of Haleakala.
    • Ohai Trail – Easy 1 mile loop for the whole family.
    • Mahana Ridge – Highlights include fresh fruit trees, a vivacious forest and occasional coastal views of Mokupe‘a and Honokahua Gulches.  
    • Kapalua Coastal Trail – Coastal path along West Maui offering coastal views, world class beaches and dramatic sea cliffs.
    • Nakalele Blowhole – Short but steep hike to the blowhole along West Maui’s coast.
    • Halemau’u Trail – A popular 11 mile hike down to the Sliding Sands trailhead.
    • Waianapanapa Coastal Trail – Rugged coastal trail composed of jagged lava rock that goes all the way to Hana town.
    • Supply Trail – Located inside Haleakala NP.  Starts at Hosmer’s Grove and intersect the Halemau’u Trail.

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