Na’ili’ili Haele, or the “Bamboo Forest”, on Maui was once a tourist hotspot. So what happened?
This is actually one of the reasons why it is now permanently closed. The Bamboo Forest was overwhelmed by tourists, many of whom found themselves in dangerous situations and became injured.
The area has several waterfalls which, although they look amazing, are very dangerous. In order to get to them and walk around them, travelers must walk across slippery rocks. People have hurt themselves often doing so.
To complete the hike and reach the final waterfall, you must then swim upstream. This is dangerous in any situation, but especially so after rainfall. After it has rained, the steep slopes become even more slippery.
To put it shortly, the Bamboo Forest stands on tricky terrain. There are a number of areas where people would slip and hurt themselves, break bones, and even die in some cases. The area is also prone to flash floods which would cause people to become stranded and in need of rescue.
In fact, the Bamboo Forest became the number one spot for rescues in the area. So for the protection of both tourists and the forest, the site was permanently closed. This was a disappointment for many people who wanted to visit the area. But it was for the best.
The closing also helps this natural area stay protected from destruction and over-tourism, even if it is at the expense of some people never being able to visit the site.
Unfortunately, some people still visit the area despite it being closed to tourism. There is a sign stating that the area is permanently closed and considered private property, but this is often ignored. Some believe that the land should not be private and believe they have a right to enter the area. So this leads to not only safety issues, but nature conservation risks.
So ignoring the signs is not a fun prohibited adventure. Instead, it causes damage to the natural environment and endangers travelers or rescue team members.
Other Places To Visit Instead Of The Bamboo Forest
Just because you can no longer visit Na’ili’ili Haele, this doesn’t mean that you will be short of amazing places to visit in Maui. Na’ili’ili Haele is on the Road to Hana, which has several other amazing places where you can hike and visit.
Here are some great alternatives now that you must cross Na’ili’ili Haele off your list.
1. Ho’olawa Valley/Twin Falls
This is a great choice if you’re looking to see some beautiful waterfalls, but don’t want to risk life and limb as you would in Na’ili’ili Haele. When you first get to the area, there are some small falls that are really easy to get to. So this is a great choice if you don’t have the ability to hike or climb very far, or if you’re traveling with small children.
There is also a farm nearby where you can grab some coconut water and banana bread. This is a gentle way to ease yourself into a hiking trip. But it also gives you a great insight into some beautiful Maui landscapes.
2. Wailua Falls
This is another great option for waterfalls. These falls are a little off the beaten path, so likely won’t be overwhelmed with other travelers. But they are still relatively easy and safe to get to. The falls are where the Wailua river diverges into two streams, via these waterfalls.
The falls are located at the south end of the river and plummet 80 feet into a pool of water. This is a beautiful and blissful area that is truly idyllic. This is a great alternative to Na’ili’ili Haele, as it is much safer to reach but still provides you with an even more impressive view.
3. Ka’Eleku Caverns/Lava Tube
If you’re less interested in waterfalls, but want something as bold and impressive as the Bamboo Forest itself, then check out the Ka’Eleku Caverns (also known as the Lava Tube). As the name suggests, these are caves and tunnels inside rocks that have been eroded by lava. The concept is cool enough by itself. Traveling through the caverns is exciting and adventurous.
This is a great way to feel as though you’re on an adventure, without the dangers associated with Na’ili’ili Haele. You can conduct self-guided tours around the caverns, and there are plenty of handrails and safety features to help you out. It isn’t too easy so you will feel a sense of achievement at the end.
4. Wai’anapanapa State Park
The Wai’anapanapa State Park is another stop along the Road to Hana that you absolutely must visit. There are multiple hiking trails and sea caves that can be explored, as well as a stunning black sand beach that will be a once-in-a-lifetime sight (and a great place for some cool pictures).
This is a good place if you want somewhere exciting to explore, but don’t want to risk anything dangerous. There are multiple areas of the State Park that you can visit which will be just as exciting as Na’ili’ili Haele.
5. Pools of ‘Ohe’o/Seven Sacred Pools
The waterfalls at this spot are very similar to those at Na’ili’ili Haele. While there are few places which can compete with the forest itself, these pools will definitely be worth visiting if stunning waterfalls are what you’re looking for.
The pools are surrounded by lush foliage and it is a very peaceful place. The falls are small and feed into each other, which makes a very pretty image as they splash through the rocks. This is a beautiful place that serves as a more peaceful and gentle alternative to the difficult and treacherous Na’ili’ili Haele. So it is worth stopping for.
The Bamboo Forest on Maui is closed to the public for good reason. Not only is it for travelers’ safety, but to preserve the natural elements of the area. However, you can still experience sights just as stunning and unique elsewhere around the island. The hard part is just choosing which ones to go to!