Kapalua Coastal Trail Maui: What to Know Before You Go

Maui has many hiking trails where you can get out and explore what the island has to offer in terms of nature. The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a great beginner-friendly option for those who want to get a scenic hike in.

With wonderful views ranging from interesting lava rocks to a sacred burial site, this trail is an ideal outdoor activity for your Maui to-do list.

Boardwalk along Kapalua Coastal trail, near the shore, in Maui.

Kapalua Coastal Trail: Getting Started

There are a couple of places where you can embark on your Kapalua Coastal Trail Journey. You can either start on the south end at Kapalua Bay, or on the north end at Fleming Beach. You can drive to both of these locations depending on your preference. Kapalua is roughly a 20-minute drive from Lahaina and about a 50-minute drive from Kahului.

  • If you choose to start from the south end near Kapalua Bay, you can look for a spot to park along Lower Honoapiilani Road. The earlier the better for this entrance point, since parking is limited. There is a small parking lot at the trail entrance, but it will probably be full.
  • If starting from the north end near Fleming Beach, there’s typically more parking. Fleming Beach has a free lot that is usually more available since the area isn’t surrounded by resorts like Kapalua Bay.

The trail itself is 2.5 miles long and is generally beginner-friendly. Although, there are some hilly areas where you’ll need to watch your footing, so it’s best to come prepared (more on that below). Plan for about 2 or so hours if you plan to go the full length of the trail.

It’s best to visit this trail in the mornings, since it can get pretty hot during the day.

What to Bring for a Successful Hike

It’s best to come prepared with sneakers or tennis shoes. Since much of the trail is on rocks, flip-flops won’t be comfortable and you run the risk of blisters or losing your footing. (Sneakers and tennis shoes also protect you from nasty bugs!)

Other useful items to bring are:

  • Water
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars

Staying hydrated and having adequate sun protection are important on the Kapalua Coastal Trail. Having binoculars also allows you to fully take in some of the amazing views along the trail.

What You’ll See on the Kapalua Coastal Trail

Map of Kapalua Coastal Trail.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail boasts views of Molokai and Lanai, with access to Kapalua Beach and Oneloa Beach. Much of the trail is on a paved path, except from miles 0.6 to miles 0.8. This section of the trail follows a rocky landscape filled with volcanic rocks.

Namalu nest in Maui.

In this area, you might see nesting Ua’u kani. These are birds that build tunnels in the ground from April to December. It’s important to stay on the trail so you don’t disturb these fragile tunnels.

Note, also, that to protect these nests, dogs are not allowed.

Honokahua Preservation Site on the Kapalua Trail on Maui.

The trail also runs along the Honokahua Preservation Site. This is a culturally significant site home to an estimated 2,000 buried Hawaiians dating back to 610 CE. It’s located near the Ritz-Carlton.

During the building of the resort in the late 80s, construction teams accidentally unearthed a multitude of remains and were met with protests from Hawaiians seeking to protect the historic and sacred site.

They were successful, and today the site is a source of pride for the Ritz-Carlton. The grassy area is off-limits to the public, so visitors are expected to obey the signage.

If you’re still up for more adventure, you can take the spur trail to Hawea Point. Here you can see turtles surfacing. You can also take the narrow trail to Namalu Bay for snorkeling, swimming, and cliff-jumping.

Lava rocks on the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

What We Like Most About the Kapalua Coastal Trail

  • The smell of fresh gardenias
  • The outlooks over the lava shelves
  • The beauty of the coastal views
  • The Honokahua Preservation Site

What We Like Least About the Kapalua Coastal Trail

  • The parts of the trail that veer off from the coast through neighborhoods on sidewalks.
  • Walking through the resorts that just feel too manicured compared to the rugged coast.
  • The number of people and general busyness.

Connection to Mahana Ridge Trail

When you look at the map of the Kapalua Coastal Trail, you’ll see that it connects with the Mahana Ridge trail that goes inland at the Fleming Beach point. This is a 10.4 mile trail and is rated difficult by AllTrails.

However, as of April 2021, after reduced traffic due to COVID-19 closures on the island, this trail appears to have become quite overgrown. If you still want the challenge, check it out to see if it’s been traveled more frequently and is identifiable. But beware of getting lost here.

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