Crashing waves at Wainapanapa State Park

Wave action at Wainapanapa State ParkOne of the highlights along the road to Hana, the secluded village on Maui’s rugged east coast, is this outstanding park. It’s possible to spend the better part of a day here and enjoy a variety of activities. You can lounge on the powdery black sand beach and swim in the quiet cove. You can explore the cave, a short walk from the parking area, in which a Hawaiian king reputedly murdered his wife. But my favorite activity is to hike the scenic lava trail that runs along the seacoast.

Shoreline hiking trail

The easiest, best marked route is toward the east. The trail passes the park campground and a heiau (religious site), a rectangular area marked by lava rocks. Depending somewhat on the wind and weather, huge waves crash into the dark lava shore, sometimes from more than one direction.

Along the trail

One of the results of this activity is a blowhole, about half a mile from the start of the trail. Waves enter openings in the rocks and are directed upward, exiting as a fine spray (complete with rainbow), a gusher or, sadly, just a burp.

The hala trees growing along the trail are a delightful, quiet, green counterpoint to the violence being done to the black lava rocks by the waves. Hala leaves are used by locals to weave baskets and strange-looking hats for sale to tourists. For a nice overview photo of the shore, pose a companion next to one of these trees in the foreground.

After about 3/4 mile, the border of Wainapanapa State Park is reached but the trail continues all the way to Hana Bay, roughly a 3-mile trek in total. I mean “roughly” both as “approximately” and a comment on the condition of the trail, which disappears from time to time and requires walking over jagged lava in places.Waianapanapa blow hole

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