3 of the Best Hikes on Maui

Maui is host to an array of outdoor activities that take advantage of the gorgeous landscape and diverse climate of the island. While many in crowded Tokyo districts or NYC high-rises would be happy staying inside their home or hotel all day, that is not the case on this island! Visitors and locals alike enjoy daily outdoor activities ranging from surfing, diving, zip-lining, and biking. One of the main attractions, however, is the beautiful hiking on Maui. There are too many gorgeous and challenging hikes to provide an exhaustive list below, but here are some of the best trails broken down into difficulty levels to get anyone started, and at any level.

Easy: Twin Falls

           Besides the beach, one of the first images that people associate with the Hawaiian experience is the iconic waterfall. The Twin Falls trail located on the Road to Hana may be labeled as easy, but even the most seasoned hikers do not want to miss it! Visitors enjoy strings of cascades, freshwater pools, and remarkable foliage each fed by the ample Ho’olawa Valley rainfall. Conveniences like parking, porta-potties, refreshment stands, and free admission accommodate for a wider range of ages and expertise as well.  The most popular site on the trail is the “Caveman” waterfall, as it is home to ancient caves and ideal spots for cliff-jumping enthusiasts. On average it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to reach Caveman on this easy hike, and it is approximately 1.3 miles.

Moderate: Hoapili Trail

           A more challenging yet moderate trail is the Hoapili Trail. Make sure to bring some adequate footwear like hiking boots and lots of water, as the walk will take you over jagged lava fields from the 1790 eruption of Haleakala. This trail is located at La Perouse, an area south of Wailea and equipped with a stunning oceanfront archaeological site that remains culturally significant to Hawaiians. Many also refer to this trail as The King’s Highway. The trail passes through lava fields, sandy beaches, *kiawe trees, and low sea cliffs. The ancient Hawaiian ruins and structures along the way eventually open up to dazzling and crystal-clear olivine pools. Overall the hike is about 5.5 miles.

*Kiawe: a thorny tree, Prosopis juliflora, of the legume family, native to South America and widely naturalized in Hawaii.

Difficult: Kaupo Gap

           Lastly the most difficult trail, Kaupo Gap, where you will certainly find any desired solitude on this scarcely populated seven-mile hike. The breathtaking views of the “gap” in the Haleakala crater rim wall, along with the breathtaking koa forest, ohia trees, and endangered birds are just some of its points of interest. Kaupo Gap begins at the three-way intersection with Lau’ulu Trail and Halemau’u Trail, taking the Kaupo Trail south down the crater floor to trek down the steep volcanic terrain. Often, hikers mitigate the challenging trail by setting a pickup destination near Piilmani Highway 31 or using an experienced guide from websites like MauiHikes.org. Heed any markers and be careful of steep grades, high altitudes, and rocky paths. Although the switchbacks can also be intense, they are punctuated with beautiful views of the Big Island and Pacific ocean.

The header for this image  of Hoapili Trail was taken by Daniel Sullivan.