If you’re looking for an easy hike in West Maui that’s great for the whole family and has outstanding views, look no further than the Kapalua Coastal Trail. Maui has a lot of great hikes but this is truly one of the best if you’re looking for something low-key that can be completed in a few hours.
When I first heard about the Kapalua Coastal Trail, I assumed it was just another beach walk following the edge of the resorts in the area with not much to see. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The views on this trail made me feel a sense of awe and I’m sure I said “wow” to myself more than once. I’d go as far as saying they’re some of the best views in West Maui.
Partially paved, partially dirt and rocks, this out-and-back trail will take you from the beautiful Kapalua Bay Beach all the way to DT Fleming Park and can be done in reverse. In this guide, we’ll cover all there is to know about hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail including where to start, how to get there, and what you’ll see along the way. Let’s dig in!
- Where to Start the Kapalua Coastal Trail
- Sights on the Kapalua Coastal Trail
- What to Know Before You Hike
Where to Start the Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail can be started at either end or at two spots in the middle. You can’t go wrong with any of the starting points as you’ll be able to see everything no matter where you start. A lot of times it comes down to what spot has the best parking.
In the middle, you can start at either The Ironwoods or the Dragon’s Teeth Access Trail. The Ironwoods is a condominium complex in Kapalua while Dragon’s Teeth is a must-see rock formation created by one of Maui’s last lava flows.
My preference is to start at Kapalua Bay Beach. We’ll park there, do the hike, and then spend the rest of the day at the beach. You can take the same approach with DT Fleming Park or even The Ironwoods as Oneloa Beach is located in the middle of the trail.
Getting to the Kapalua Coastal Trail
If you’re staying in West Maui (Lahaina) then the Kapalua Coastal Trail is only a 10-20 minute drive from most places. If you’re staying in South Maui (Kihei or Wailea), it’ll be around 45-60 minutes.
The main road you’ll take to get there once in West Maui is Honoapi’ilani Road. You’ll take that all the way up the west side to Napilihau Street and then hang a right onto Lower Honoapi’ilani Road. If you’re starting at DT Fleming Park, you’ll stay on Honoapi’ilani Road until you can make a left onto Lower Honoapi’ilani Road.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Parking
Since there are four places you can start the trail, there are also four places you can park. Even though it’s my favorite place to start, Kapalua Bay Beach probably has the worst parking. The lot is small and it fills up early but you can park on the street if it’s full.
You can also park at The Ironwoods in the middle which is less likely to be busy. Dragon’s Teeth also has a small parking lot but I’ve never used it so I can’t comment on how busy it gets. Finally, you can park at DT Fleming Park at the other end of the trail. It’s a popular beach but is usually less crowded than Kapalua Bay Beach.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Map
Sights on the Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail offers a lot of different sights to see including a variety of beaches, rock formations, and picturesque views of the ocean. You don’t have to hike the entire trail to take in some sights, however, I’d recommend doing the entire thing because as I’ve mentioned before, it’s worth it for the awe-inspiring views.
1. Kapalua Bay Beach
Kapalua Bay Beach is a beautiful crescent-shaped beach with typically calm waters that makes it a great spot for families. It’s one of our favorite beaches to spend time at and it also offers some of the best snorkeling in West Maui. It’s a lot smaller than other resort beaches you can find in other parts of Maui but it still has plenty to do and see.
The Kapalua Coastal Trail starts here once you leave the parking lot (if you choose to start here) and follows the edge of the bay between the beach and the condos. You’ll see a sign at the start of the trail and after that, you can follow the walking path past the bay and to our next location.
2. Namalu Bay and the Kapalua Cliff House
Namalu Bay is located right next to Kapalua Bay Beach and is the next stop on this hike. It’s even smaller than Kapalua Bay and doesn’t have a beach but the view from the point between the two bays is incredible. I’d definitely recommend stopping here for a few pics.
If you brought your swimsuit, Namalu Bay is also a popular cliff jumping spot for locals and tourists alike. The cliffs are about 15 feet from the water and accessible just past the Kapalua Cliff House, another sight to see on this hike.
The Kapalua Cliff House is located on the right side of Namalu Bay and is a historic building that was once used by the Honolua Plantation. These days it’s run by the Montage Kapalua Bay and is used to host private events.
3. Hawea Point
The next stop on the trail is Hawea Point, a peninsula with a small network of trails, lava rocks, and a nesting ground for the protected ‘Ua‘u Kani seabird. You’ll reach this part of the trail after passing by the Kapalua Cliff House where the trail turns from paved to dirt (pictured above).
Once you reach this part of the trail, you can either go left and venture out to Hawae Point or go right and continue on with the Kapalua Coastal Trail. My recommendation would be to spend some time exploring the point, take some pictures, and then circle back to where you can continue on with the trail. Just be sure to stay on the trails because as mentioned, this is a nesting ground for protected seabirds.
4. Ironwood Cliffs
Once you’ve finished exploring Hawae Point, your next stop will be the Ironwood Cliffs. You’ll reach this spot almost immediately after turning right at Hawae Point. I feel like a broken record but the views here – coupled with the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and the vibrant color of the water – are incredible.
This part of the trail can be windy, so it might be wise to bring a light jacket, however, it didn’t seem to bother me the day we were out there. The terrain here can also be rocky and hard to follow at times. It’s not difficult but caution should be taken when hiking the rocky parts to avoid injury.
5. Oneloa Beach
When you’re walking along the Ironwood Cliffs, you should be able to see Oneloa Beach in the distance. That is the next stop on this hike where the dirt gives way to a boardwalk between the beach and the condos (pictured above).
This is a great little beach as it’s a lot less crowded than other popular beaches in Maui. However, it’s less protected than Kapalua Bay Beach and as such has bigger waves and isn’t that great for swimming or snorkeling. It also doesn’t have any facilities or amenities.
If you’re looking to take a break, this is a good spot since it’s about the midpoint of the trail. This is also where you can park if you want to start the trail in the middle. In the picture above, you can see the walking path from the parking lot at The Ironwoods to the beach if you choose to start here.
6. Kapalua Labyrinth
Once you’re done at Oneloa Beach, take the walking path between the condos out to Lower Honoapi’ilani Road, hang a left, and walk until you reach the free public parking lot. This is where you’ll pick up the next stop on this trail, the Kapalua Labyrinth.
The trail actually takes a little detour here to another smaller trail called the Dragon’s Teeth Access Trail. It starts at the small parking lot on Lower Honoapi’ilani Road and leads you out to Makaluapuna Point. If you reach the Ritz-Carlton before the parking lot, you’ve gone too far.
The Kapalua Labyrinth is a rock labyrinth created by an anonymous party in the early 2000s. It’s designed to lead you into the center and back out again and is meant as sort of a meditative exercise leaving you feeling peaceful and calm.
7. Dragon’s Teeth
Another must-see stop on Makaluapuna Point is the unique and exciting lava rock formation known as Dragon’s Teeth. This formation was created from one of Maui’s last lava flows as the wind and waves hit the cooling lava creating the jagged rocks pointing toward the sky that you see today.
This spot gets its name from the fact that the formation looks like sharp teeth and is a great spot for capturing amazing photos. Just be careful as the rocks can be sharp and the waves can be unpredictable. As always, exercise caution when hiking areas like this.
8. D.T. Fleming Park
The last stop on the Kapalua Coastal Trail (or first if you start here) is a great little beach park in front of the Ritz-Carlton known as D.T. Fleming Park. The beach here is usually less crowded than Kapalua Bay Beach and also has more room to spread out. It’s a family-friendly beach with lifeguards and bathrooms making it a great place to stop and relax on this trail.
The waves can be big here, especially during the winter months, which makes it a great spot for surfing or watching surfers as you bask in the sun. It’s also known for snorkeling, however, that can be a challenge when the waves are big. Be sure to check the conditions before venturing out into the water to ensure that it’s safe.
Just up from the beach is the Burger Shack restaurant with tables for sit-down meals, a full bar, and a walk-up window with shakes, sweets, and more. This is a great spot to grab a bite before heading back to Kapalua Bay if you started the trail on that end. If you start here, you can finish your hike with a meal and relax at D.T. Fleming Park.
What to Know Before You Hike
How Hard is the Trail?
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is generally considered an easy hike because it’s partially paved and doesn’t have much elevation gain. Parts of the trail are rocky making those areas a little more challenging but it’s still doable for the majority of people, including children. Overall this an easy trail that I’d classify as more of a stroll than a hike.
How Long Does it Take?
The time it takes to complete this trail depends on how long you spend stopping at each of the sights along the way. It would probably take around an hour if you walked the entire thing without stopping. I would recommend setting aside at least three hours to give yourself enough time to stop and take in the amazing sights this trail has to offer.
Does it Cost Anything to Hike?
Nope, there’s no cost to hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail making it a great free activity to do in Maui. Both parking and access to the trail are free though parking can be limited depending on how busy it is when you go. Try to get there early if you can.
What to Wear
You can probably walk this trail in sandals and be fine. That’s what I did because we were spending the day at Kapalua Bay Beach and I hadn’t planned on hiking. However, it can be rocky in spots so if you don’t forget shoes as I did, I’d bring a pair to wear. It can also be windy at spots on the trail. That didn’t bother me but if you think it might be an issue, I’d also bring a light jacket. As for your bottom half, shorts are fine as you won’t be hiking through much foliage and it can be warm out.
Facilities at the Kapalua Coastal Trail
If you need to use the bathroom or grab a bite to eat, you have a few options on the Kapalua Coastal Trail. Both Kapalua Bay Beach and D.T. Flemming park have bathrooms, beach showers, and lifeguards. You can also grab snacks from the beach crew at Kapalua Bay Beach or a full meal from the Burger Shack at D.T. Flemming Park.
Respect the Environment
This goes without saying for anything you do in Maui, on the islands, or anywhere in the world. Please respect the environment! The most important thing you can do while hiking is to stay on the trail. The Kapalua Coastal Trail is home to protected seabirds known as the ‘Ua‘u Kani that nest in the area and can be disturbed if you stray from the path. Additionally, don’t take anything from the trail. Maui has limited resources and taking things from the environment depletes them. It’s also considered bad luck!
Be Careful of Rocks and Cliffs
The views and photo opportunities on the Kapalua Coastal Trail are one of a kind. But please don’t put yourself in harm’s way to get a great shot. The rocks and cliffs can be jagged and ripe for causing injury. Always be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution when hiking anywhere in Maui, especially when the ocean is involved.
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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