Honolua Bay Access Trail: An Easy Family Hike in West Maui

Updated Feb 28, 2024 ,

Honolua Bay Access Trail

The Honolua Bay Access Trail is one of our favorite “easy” hikes for families in West Maui. This 0.6-mile out-and-back trail leads you through a lush rainforest jungle, ending at Honolua Bay, renowned for some of the best snorkeling in Maui.

The hike is relatively flat and cuts through a tropical-shaded path before reaching the beautiful bay. So, it’s doable for a range of ages as long as there are no mobility issues.

Aside from the snorkeling and unique jungle path, the highlight of the Honolua Bay Access Trail would be the breathtaking views of Molokai across the rocky shoreline of Honolua Bay. With its manageable length and captivating scenery, the Honolua Bay Access Trail offers a memorable experience for all ages, making it a perfect choice for a family adventure.

Snorkeling at Honolua Bay

Are you also interested in snorkeling at Honolua Bay? If so, one of the easiest ways to experience snorkeling here (and our favorite) is by boat. While snorkeling directly off the shoreline is possible, some of the best snorkeling requires a swim out into the bay if you hike in.

Learn More: Honolua Bay Snorkel Tours

Difficulty
Easy
Location
Type
Out & Back
Length
0.6 miles
Time
30 minutes
Terrain
Dirt, Rocky
Elevation Gain
82 feet
Cost
None
Dogs
No
Bathrooms
No

Directions to the Honolua Bay Access Trail

Honolua Bay Access Trail Parking

The Honolua Bay Access Trail is really close to many popular places to stay in West Maui. It’s about a 10-15 minute drive from Ka'anapali or a 5-minute drive from Kapalua. Drive northwest on Highway 30 from Ka'anapali or Kapalua and look for mile marker 32.5 to get to the trailhead. The access trail is just past that mile marker.

Parking: Upon reaching mile marker 32.5, you’ll see several dirt spots to park on the side of the road. Depending on the time of day, many other cars could be here. If you can’t find a spot, keep driving, as one could be around the next bend. If you reach mile marker 33, you’ve gone too far.

Good to Know: Never leave valuables in the car, as break-ins can occur.

Starting the Honolua Bay Access Trail

The hike begins at several spots off the main road (ocean side), but our favorite is just past the small bridge after mile marker 32.5. From here, it should be fairly obvious where you need to go. Once you see a path, head into the trees towards the ocean, and you’ll be on your way.

If you feel like you’ve stepped into another world, you’ll know you’re in the right place. Enveloped in myriad shades of green and adorned with blooming trees, it slowly immerses you into nature’s embrace. The lush green canopy of trees will remind you of a scene from Jurassic Park.

Sights on the Honolua Bay Access Trail

Honolua Bay Snorkel Tour

The Honolua Bay Access Trail may be short, but don’t be deceived by its length. It’s an otherworldly location, and you’ll come across fascinating sights along the way, luring you to stop several times. We really enjoy the feeling of being somewhere different when hiking here.

Here are some of the sights you can expect along the way…

A Canopy of Large Trees

Honolua Bay Access Trail Trees

Shortly after starting the hike through the Honolua Bay Access Trail, you’ll be enveloped by a dense canopy of large trees. It is a really cool sight to see. The towering foliage creates an immersive environment as you traverse this lush rainforest. Giant ferns and cascading vines drape overhead, casting enchanting shadows along the path underneath.

Wild Chickens

Honolua Bay Wild Chickens

The islands are known for their population of wild chickens, and the Honolua Bay Access Trail is one of the places on Maui where you’ll find them. You may encounter the presence of these cheerful and vibrant wild chickens on your hike. If you do, stop and watch their playful antics and energetic movements, which adds a unique element to your family’s hiking adventure.

Honolua Bay’s Shoreline

Honolua Bay Shoreline

The Honolua Bay Access Trail culminates in a breathtaking spectacle—the stunning shoreline of Honolua Bay. Greeted by the soothing sounds of waves brushing against the shore, the bay’s pristine waters glisten under the warm sun with the island of Molokai in the background.

While many choose to spend time here, it’s worth noting that this is not a beach. The shoreline is rocky, so you’ll want to bring beach chairs if you plan on hanging around and playing in the water. There’s plenty of space to spread out, so it’s worth doing if you have the time.

Snorkeling and Marine Life

When you reach Honolua Bay, don’t miss the chance to snorkel in its crystal-clear waters. Honolua Bay is among the top snorkeling spots in West Maui and is our personal favorite. We have never had a bad time snorkeling here, ever!

As you submerge in the vibrant underwater world, you’ll discover colorful coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life. Swim alongside graceful sea turtles, encounter schools of tropical fish, and marvel at the colorful marine life thriving underwater.

What to Know Before You Hike

Honolua Bay Signs

Exploring the Honolua Bay Access Trail promises delightful experiences, especially for families fond of outdoor adventures. Here are some things to remember to make the most of your journey.

Stay on the Trail

It’s crucial to remain on the designated trail while hiking the Honolua Bay Access Trail. Unmarked graves, private property, and environmental safety are reasons to stay on the trail. By staying on the trail, you can help protect the environment and minimize disturbances to fragile ecosystems. Mindful exploration ensures personal safety and the conservation of Honolua Bay’s natural and cultural heritage.

How Long Does it Take?

The hike typically lasts 30 minutes without stops, but you’ll surely stop several times. The scenic beauty of the trail, coupled with the captivating surroundings of Honolua Bay, tempts hikers to explore and soak up the scenery. Take your time to enjoy the tranquility and natural splendor.

What Should You Wear on This Hike?

You can wear standard hiking attire, although packing a swimsuit and snorkel gear enhances the experience, given Honolua Bay’s inviting waters. The trail’s ease eliminates the necessity for hiking shoes, but sturdy sandals or comfortable walking shoes are advisable for traction and protection. While it’s an easy walk, venturing into the water offers a unique perspective of Honolua Bay’s marine life and underwater scenery.

Is the Trail Accessible for Strollers or Wheelchairs?

Unfortunately, since the Honolua Bay Access Trail is a dirt trail, it isn’t accessible for strollers or wheelchairs. The trail is rugged and uneven, with natural terrain that includes rocky areas. These conditions make it challenging for strollers or wheelchairs to navigate safely.

Are There Any Specific Rules or Guidelines?

Yes, Honolua Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District, so there are rules you need to follow. Fishing and removing rocks are prohibited to preserve their cultural and ecological significance to native Hawaiians. Respect the area’s history and wear reef-safe sunscreen for snorkeling to protect the delicate marine environment. These guidelines ensure the sustainability of Honolua Bay’s beauty for future generations.

Justin and Katie Busa

Meet the Authors

Aloha! We’re Justin and Katie, the owners of Maui Hideaway. We’ve been visiting Hawaii together with our family for 20 years and would love to share the experience of the islands with you. Whether you’re looking for a place to stay or just some vacation advice, we’re here to help!

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