Waianapanapa State Park
Stop at the black-sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park while driving on the Road to Hana. Bathe in the stunning panoramic views here! The hills and valleys of green jungle give way to rugged, black volcanic rock cliffs that plunge into the deep blue sea. The park has many other treasures to behold.
Overview of Waianapanapa State Park Beach
Located on the west side of Maui, Waiʻanapanapa State Park is a 122-acre state park that attracts thousands of visitors annually. The park consists of a rugged coastline and dense forests containing rare seabird colonies and natural wonders like caves, sea arches, volcanic features, hiking trails, and blowholes. One main point of interest that brings visitors to this park is its black sand beach. Camping facilities and picnic spots are available within the park, and overnight stays in the campground are permitted.
Directions to Waianapanapa State Park Beach
As you drive on the Road to Hana, stop at mile marker 32. On the makai side of the highway, you should see a gravel road leading down to Wai'anapanapa State Park. A road sign there will inform you of the location. Head down the road and look for the main parking area (to the left). A trail will lead you to Honokalani black sand beach in Pa'iloa Bay. Continue to pass it until you reach the narrow entrance. Though limited at the entrance, the path widens as you proceed and takes you to an open view of the ocean at the other end.
Essential Tips for a Great Waianapanapa State Park Beach Visit
Starting March 1, 2021, all non-resident visitors and commercial vehicles must make reservations to enter Maui's Waianapanapa State Park. Visitors must place their reservations 30 days before, and park officials will not accept same-day reservations.
Maui's Waianapanapa State Park charges out-of-state visitors $10 for parking. In addition to parking, the park charges an entrance fee. Walk-ins, visitor drop-offs, and bicyclists pay a $5 entry fee per person. Commercial vehicles are charged higher fees.
Many warning signs surround this beach. The shores lack any outside reef to break the force of the waves and currents. Avoid swimming here. Instead, explore the cave opening on your right.
Waianapanapa State Park Beach Amenities
The beach lacks lifeguards, so take grave precautions because of the strong currents and dangerous shore breaks. Other amenities include:
- Restrooms and picnic tables
- Campgrounds and tents for rental
- Basic outdoor beach showers at the campgrounds
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Having Fun at Waianapanapa State Park
Family Activities at Waianapanapa State Park Beach
The black sand beach isn't the only attraction at Wai'anapanapa, though. Wai'anapanapa (Why-Ah-naa-paa-naa-paa) also features sculpted lava rocks, wind-twisted foliage, a sea arch, lava caves, tubes, and even a blowhole. Try camping at Waianapanapa Campground. It's a great place to enjoy a fun camping experience. They also provide cabins.
Waianapanapa State Park Beach Activities
Pa'iloa Beach: This black sand beach contrasts the deep-blue ocean and black lava cliffs. A lava flow created this pebble black sand beach several hundred years ago. Adventurous visitors can explore an ocean cave and lava-formed archway on the east side of this beach. Although swimming here is often possible, rip currents during peak surf times can threaten swimmers. You should check ocean safety tips before entering the water.
Explore the freshwater caves: The Waianapanapa State Park is known for its two caves holding pools of glistening freshwater. Notably, this state park's name is derived from the freshwater caves. Today, visitors can swim in these freshwater pools formed from the lava tunnels that collapsed and exposed the freshwater beneath.
Ancient ruins to satisfy the history buffs: The park boasts more than 30 protected sites that document the culture of ancient Hawaiians. The protected sites involve enclosures, protective walls, house platforms, burial sites, cave shelters, an old trail, a pictograph, and more. To check out some of these ancient ruins, hop onto the Kihaapi'ilani Trail.
Bird-watching: Bird-watching enthusiasts will enjoy the large variety of sea birds here.
Hike the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail, Piilani Trail, aka Ke Ala Loa O Maui Trail: If you're looking for an adventurous day trip, hike the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail. To begin, head to the paved footpath leading toward Pailoa Beach. You'll encounter a short trail near the beach that descends to the sand and passes in front of a lava tube. Then, you'll arrive at rocky formations of lava, where one can find a large blowhole along the lava arch. As you continue your trek, you'll cross a shaky bridge over an ancient lava flow that created an arch—a favorite spot for sunsets. Wind along the rocky coast, cross over a narrow wobbly bridge, and pass ancient temple remains. Next is an overgrown grassy area where you'll discover old village remains before reaching your destination! We recommend bringing sturdy shoes, appropriate gear, and your camera for this rocky 2-mile hike.
Sunset views and magical cliffs: Pailoa Bay boasts a natural sea arch and sea cliff—both magical at sunset.
Cliff Jumping: Dare-devil swimmers leap from the rock islets in the bay east of the black sand beach. If you're planning to participate in the event, be careful. Strong tides here can make swimming treacherous. If the surfs calm, you can probably see where it's safe to jump. But when the seas get rough, you'll have trouble seeing where it's safe to climb onto the shore. Since there's no telling what kind of hazards you may find, be very careful walking up that giant jagged pumice stone after jumping into the ocean.
Blowhole: If you are walking along the paved path from the overlook, check out the blowhole located further east of the nearby islet. Usually, this blowhole fails to deliver much water, however, when the surf and tide are just right, this blowhole will send a large volume of water high into the air-creating an impressive view.
Nearby Attractions and Sights
Hana Lava Tube: Get ready for a lifetime adventure! Hana Lava stands as one of the largest lava tubes in the world, and lava rivers formed the foundations of these lava tubes. As one of the stops along the Road to Hana, visit this vast volcanic crater. Trek the cave trails for a fun, family-friendly adventure. Self-guided tours run daily between 10:30 am and 4:00 pm.