Distance: 4 miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation gain: 350ft (from 40 - 160ft)
Despite being the second youngest of the volcanic Hawaiian chain, Maui doesn't see much geological activity these days. However, the Hoapili Trail will take you across one of the most recent signs of activity on the island, across 200 year old lava beds to a secluded beach.
From the trailhead hike through patches of kiawe woodland and beaches scattered with sand and white coral, contrasting starkly with the black of the lava outcroppings. Eventually and suddenly the vegetation stops - a telling sign that you're on the newest of the lava beds - and take a sharp left turn through a gate before proceeding on through fields of barren lava formations.
The desolation of the lava fields ends at Kanaio Beach where you can take a rest on a makeshift bench swing and look out onto the ocean in the hope of spotting one of the spinner dolphins which frequent this area of the coast.
On hot days remember to pack plenty of water, and always check the weather before setting out for the trailhead to avoid flash flooding. Also, despite what you may read elsewhere South Makena Road is paved throughout and is completely suitable for all vehicles including rental cars, which are restricted against traveling on some other roads on Maui.
- Trailspotting Images: Hoapili Trail on Flickr