One of our family’s favorite hikes is the lava fields hike at La Perouse bay. When the kids were little, we would come out here with some regularity. The lava rocks, being able to climb and throw child size stones was great for little boys!
It’s been a few years since we were last here. We tried a few months ago but couldn’t find any parking. Today was our lucky day.
The journey there
From Kihei head south on Wailea Alanui, through Wailea, past Makena, past Little and Big beach (3 entrances), the uber-rich houses and Ahihi Cove. As you drive, the road will become increasingly narrow to the point of needing to pull over to allow traffic to pass. Past Ahihi Cove you’ll see a pay parking lot on your right (this is your backup plan for a short hike to the water should the La Perouse parking be full). Then you drive the very bumpy narrow road through the lava flow. At the end of it, the road becomes gravel and turns right into a parking lot. There is one port-o-potty, no other facilities. Prepare for hot direct sun and a fair bit of wind. Wear decent walking shoes (runners/hiking shoes if you have) and bring water and sunscreen.
Hoapili Trail, the La Perouse hike
This hike follows a section of the old Kings Highway to Kanaio Beach (2 miles away). The Kings Highway is a 138 mile pathway built of packed lava rocks in the 1500s. This particular trail mainly follows the ocean, and about a quarter mile in passes next to a blow hole. Be careful especially with little kids, there is no barrier. After a few more minutes you end up at the first beach. Past that you walk through kiawe trees (look out for goats). At the end of this section you reach another beach with gorgeous views of the backside of Kaho’olawe. You’ll see a sign where the trail joins a section of the Kings Highway. It’s a total of 2 miles to Kanaio Beach. We did not go all the way.
Tips and tricks
Come prepared. It is hot and the UV index on Maui is nearly always high. Always sunscreen, wear good walking shoes (this is not a hike for those who need flat surfaces), bring plenty of water and snacks. Right now there is a strong swell in and the waves are a little crazy. We didn’t see anyone in the water.
La Perouse Bay is a known hangout for spinner dolphins. In Hawaii swimming with dolphins is ‘a thing’. In fact, it’s an ILLEGAL thing. Per current rules you have to keep a distance of at least 50 yards from spinner dolphins.
When did this lava flow occur?
Driving through the lava fields is surreal. I am always amazed at the different types of lava, from huge chunks to small ‘processed’ rocks, it’s just incredible. The lava flow was originally thought to have occurred sometime around 1790 based on maps by explorers La Perouse (1786) and Vancouver (1790). However, scientific dating has shown that it likely happened between 1400-1600.
Do you enjoy hiking? Here is a list of some of the hikes we’ve done (and I’ve blogged about) here on Maui. Enjoy!