Wai'anapanapa State Park
Wai'anapanapa State Park, Hana
Pronounced as "why-a-napa-napa" which means "glistening waters", this is Maui's one-of-a-kind "black sand" beach and a must-see for any Hana visitor. The jet-black lava rock that permeates the landscape is a reminder of the islands' volcanic origins. The beach itself is made up of small pebbles and grains that are broken-up lava rocks, smoothed and shaped by the ocean over hundreds of years. The bay is beautifully scenic, with black cliffs, lush greenery and bright blue ocean and the sky. There are great walking opportunities along its edges on rugged trails that extend for miles east and west. Don't miss the fresh water caves accessible via loop trail from the parking area furthest on the left. Be ready for a surprisingly cool and refreshing feel if you choose to swim in the one with the clean deep water, as this spring-fed pool is noticeably colder than the ocean.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: Black lava rock land- and seascapes, unique black sand, fresh-water cave, blow hole, and cliffside hiking trail.
ACTIVITIES: Hiking, lava tube and cave exploring, swimming (ocean conditions are dangerous seasonally), fishing.
WARNINGS!: DO NOT TAKE LAVA ROCK! It is considered a very bad luck to do so, and desecrates the site for the future visitors. Be careful while entering the ocean here. High surf creates strong undertow. If you go in for a swim when calm waters prevail, be prepared for a quick change of depth just past the surf-line where the ocean floor rapidly drops off.
AMENITIES: Restrooms, showers, soda vending machines, plenty of parking, payphone, and multitude of sunny and shaded picnic tables.
State parks website link:
This is a 122 acre state park with plenty of parking and full amenities, and a popular tourist stop for good reason. It is Maui's only pure black sand beach and its character is truly unique. Lava rock spires jut out into crystal-clear waters, and there is a blow hole that gets active during high surf. During milder wave activity the lava tube at the closer end of the beach by the bottom of the stairs is easily visited. Look for the flow of people ducking in and out of the cave entrance. Once inside it expands to about 15 feet overhead and just as wide.
Swimming is very irregular here, during the winter months large surf can make the bay and beach dangerously inundated with currents and undertow. Summer months are usually the only times the ocean is tranquil here.
Hiking is rugged due to the lava stones that make up the trail. Closed-toe shoes are recommended for this journey. The trail runs in both directions from the park. To the left, it meanders along the edge of the bay to a scenic point with small blow hole. The longer walk starts at the end of the pavement to the right, along the railings and past the roped-off gravesite. Follow the grass trail for about 100 yards, then the trail turns to crushed lava rocks and gets more secluded as it leads away from the parking areas and down along the cliffs for at least half-a-mile.
To avoid the crowds on sunny days, visit Wai'anapanapa before 10 am or after 3 pm, and you will have a much more serene experience. On overcast or partly rainy days the park can be almost empty during the peak hours.
Closest town: Hana
From the Hana town, take the Hana highway west (towards Road to Hana) looking for signs 1.8 miles out of town. Honokalani road is the turnoff and the park is 0.2 miles down, at the end of the road. Parking areas begin at the end of of Honokalani road and continue over 200 yards to the left into two other parking areas. The far left parking area has the best access to everything.
If making the stop on the drive to Hana (before reaching Hana town), keep your eyes on the lookout for the Hana airport turnoff, drive past "Airport Road" for a half-mile and look for "Wai'anapanapa" sign on the right. Turn left on Honokalani Road approximately 100 yards past the sign. Go to the end of Honokalani road and look for the parking lot of your choice.