Honolua Bay Access Trail is a short and easy out-and-back trail through a moss-covered enchanted forest on the northwestern coast of Maui that leads to the infamous Honolua Bay Beach.
This hike encapsulates the essence of Maui with lush rainforest greenery, lava rock cliffs, and sparkling ocean views.
If you’re looking for a quick and accessible hike on West Maui, the Honolua Access Bay Trail is the one to choose.
Honolua Bay Access Trail Snapshot
|Distance||0.6 miles out and back (0.3 miles one way)|
|Duration||15 to 45 minutes|
|Bathrooms||Porta-potties in the parking area|
|Activities||Hiking, swimming, snorkeling, surfing, photography|
Honolua Bay Access Trail Location
Honolua Bay Access Trail is just north of Kapalua on the northwest shore of Maui.
It’s about a 15-20 minute drive from Lahaina and a 5-minute drive from Kapalua. From the other direction, it’s about 35 minutes from the historic town of Kahakuloa.
Honolua Bay Access Trail Directions
From Kapalua, take Honoapi’ilani Highway just past mile marker 32. You’ll first come to a turnout for Slaughterhouse beach with a small parking area.
Keep driving along Honoapi’ilani Highway past an overlook area, and you’ll reach the first parking area for Honolua Bay. If it’s busy, cars will be parked along both sides of the road.
There is a short trail that leads to Honolua Bay here, but you’ll want to drive a little farther to the next parking area to get to Honolua Bay Access Trail. You’ll know you’re at the right one if you see the four porta-potties near the parking area.
Parking for Honolua Access Bay Trail
Parking for Honolua Bay Access Trail is limited. There is a small dirt parking lot off to the side of the road that can fit about 4-6 cars.
Tip: This area is subject to car break-ins. Make sure to take your belongings with you and leave the car unlocked to avoid a smashed-in window.
Hiking Honolua Bay Access Trail
The Honolua Bay Access Trail is a very short and relatively flat trail that ends at Honolua Bay. If you’re looking for a strenuous hike, this isn’t the one. However, just because it’s short doesn’t mean it’s not worth it! This trail is the quintessence of Maui!
Honolua Bay Access Trailhead
The trailhead is just behind the parking area. The trail is marked with a sign that says ‘Honolua Park.’
Enchanted Forest Trail to Honolua Bay
The Honolua Bay Access Tail earned the name of the Enchanted Forest of Maui for good reason! This trail captures the beauty of Maui with tall trees adorned with draping vines and stunning aerial roots, tropical flowering plants, and lush rainforest greenery.
The trail is well-marked and easy to navigate. It’s a short 0.3-mile walk to the rocky Honolua Bay.
Make sure to stay on the trail since there are many unmarked graves around this area. Also, to the left of the trail is private property, so be respectful!
Protecting the Trail
As always, leave the trail better than you found it! Follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace. Respect the Hawaiian environment and culture and:
- Stay on the marked trail at all times
- Take out everything you brought in
- Don’t take or alter any of the natural resources. This includes the rocks and sand, which are sacred to Hawaiians.
- Don’t feed the animals or fish.
- Don’t climb on the trees.
What to Bring
- A Bathing Suit
This trail leads to Honolua Bay Beach. While it’s not your typical white sand beach for sunbathing since the beach is mostly rocks, you can still cool off and swim in the ocean.
- Snorkel Gear
Honolua Bay is known for being a great place to snorkel. However, check the conditions beforehand and do not snorkel if the surf is high or conditions are dangerous. There is no lifeguard at this beach.
- Snack or Picnic Lunch
This area is a great place to have a picnic lunch. Just make sure you don’t leave any trash behind and do not feed the wildlife.
The Hawaiian heat will make you sweat. Don’t forget to bring water and stay hydrated!
This is an excellent place for photography. You can snap some fantastic photos here!
Honolua Bay Access Trail Quick Tips
- Stay on the Main Trail.
This area is home to many unmarked graves. Be respectful and stay on the main trail at all times.
- Wear Reef-Safe Sunscreen.
Only wear reef-safe sunscreen or protect your skin from the sun by wearing a swim-shirt or rashguard.
- Be aware of smash-and-grab thieves.
Take your important belongings with you and leave your car door unlocked. People have been known to smash car windows to steal valuable items in this area.
- Wear good shoes.
It’s a short trail, but it can be slippery if it has just rained. You’ll do best with hiking shoes, but you can get away with a good pair of sandals or sneakers, depending on your ability.
- Head to the overlook and watch the sunset.
If you keep driving past the trailhead, you’ll come to a second overlook at the top of a hill. This is a great place to view Honolua Bay from above and watch the sunset.
Honolua Bay Access Trail Plants
Mostly non-native plants have taken over this trail, but you can find pockets of native plants closer to the coastline.
Monkeypod and java plum trees create a high canopy providing ample shade for the trail. In addition, you can expect to see Milo trees and a giant banyan tree.
There are many edible plants along the trail, such as avocado, star fruit, mango, banana, and papaya.
Honolua Bay Beach
Honolua Bay Access Trail is really just a way to get to the main attraction, Honolua Bay Beach. Honolua translates to “two harbors” in Hawaiian and refers to Honolua Bay and Mokuleia Bay, which includes Slaughterhouse Beach.
While this rocky beach isn’t great for basking in the sun on a beach towel, Honolua Bay is one of the best places for snorkeling and surfing on Maui.
Storms bring large surf to Honolua Bay in the winter, making this a favorite spot for advanced surfers. While they do have surf lessons at Honolua Bay, this is not the place for beginners.
The bay is calmer and great for snorkeling and diving in the summer months.
Honolua-Mokule‘ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District
The waters of Honolua Bay are part of Honolua-Mokule‘ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District. This is a protected area, so fishing, taking, or injuring any marine life is strictly prohibited. Because of this, there is a diverse array of marine life here.
Honolua Ridgeline Hike
If you’d like to explore more of the area, you can sign up for a 2-mile guided eco-tour to learn more about Honolua Bay’s rich culture, history, and ecology.
You’ll get to explore a private nature preserve that is typically inaccessible to tourists and hear the stories of the island community.
Other Hiking Trails in Maui
Dragon’s Teeth Trail
Dragon’s Teeth Hike is a short 0.6-mile out-and-back hike (0.3 miles one way) on Maui’s northwestern shore at Makaluapuna Point in Kapalua. This trail leads to a lava rock point that resembles the mouth of a dragon.
Waihe’e Ridge Trail
The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is a 5-mile out-and-back hike (2.5 miles one way) in Wailuku that follows along a ridgeline of the West Maui Mountains. This is a challenging hike, so it’s not for everyone. It ascends the West Maui Mountains nearly the whole length of the trail, but the views are spectacular and make it well worth it!
‘Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop
The ‘Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop is a short, mostly paved 0.4-mile loop in the West Maui Mountains. This hike is suitable for nearly all fitness levels.
Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a paved 3.2-mile out-and-back trail (1.6 miles one way) that follows along the coastline offering spectacular views the whole way.
Sliding Sands Trail
The Sliding Sands Trail is an 11.2-mile out-and-back trail that starts near the summit of Haleakala Volcano at nearly 10,000’ above sea level and descends towards the volcano crater.
Pa Ka’oao Trail
The Pa Ka’oao Trail is also near the Haleakala summit. If the Sliding Sands Trail seems a bit too daunting, you can do this shorter and easier 0.5-mile trail (0.25 miles one-way) and still catch all the same views of the Haleakala crater.
Honolua Bay Access Trail Review and Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for an ideal Maui experience, I highly recommend Honolua Bay Access Trail to Honolua Bay Beach. You’ll experience a tropical forest hike to sparkling crystal blue waters surrounded by scenic lava rock cliffs. This hike really does have it all.