The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a scenic 3.5-mile out-and-back trail along Maui’s northwestern coast near Lahaina.
This easy trail is primarily flat and hits up many must-see spots on Maui’s coast, making it a great choice for most people.
In this guide to the Kapalua Coastal Trail, I’ll cover must-see stops, parking, and things to do nearby, so you have the best experience possible.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Snapshot
|Distance||1.76 miles one way (3.5 miles out and back)|
|Difficulty||1 out of 5|
|Duration||1 to 3 hours|
|Trail type||Out and back|
|Bathrooms||Public restrooms at Kapalua Bay and D.T. Fleming Park|
|Activities||Walking, running, snorkeling, bird watching, photography|
|Special attributes||Coastline views, beaches, cliff-jumping, restaurants, sightseeing|
|Hours||Sunrise to Sunset|
Kapalua Coastal Trail Overview
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a 1.76-mile one-way trail (3.5 miles out and back) that is mostly paved but also has sections of boardwalk, sand, and lava rock.
If you walk the whole trail, there are several must-see Maui sites to see along the way:
- Kapalua Bay Beach
- Namalu Bay (Cliff House)
- Hawea Point
- Oneloa Beach (Ironwoods Beach)
- Dragon’s Teeth (Makaluapuna Point)
- D.T. Fleming Park
Walking the Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the few completely free things to do in Maui, as there are several free parking areas along the trail (see below for free public parking).
If you prefer to spend the whole day in Kapalua, there is no lack of things to do. Read on for how to plan your trip to Kapalua!
Kapalua Coastal Trail Location
Kapalua Coastal Trail is on the northwest coast of Maui, just north of Lahaina, and travels from Kapalua Bay Beach to D.T. Fleming Beach.
Lahaina: ~9 miles or a 15-minute drive
Wailea: ~35 miles or a 50-minute drive
Kahalui: ~30 miles or a 45-minute drive
Free Public Parking for Kapalua Coastal
Depending on where you start the trail, there are a few different options for parking. The parking areas vary in size, and all of them can be busy depending on the time of day. If you want to ensure parking, your best bet is to start early. Here are a few options for parking:
- Kapalua Bay Beach
- Cost: Free
- Description: This is on the southern end of the trail and is the main parking area for Kapalua Bay Beach. Kapalua is a very popular area and the parking lot is somewhat small, so it can fill up quite quickly. There are a few other free parking lots in this area, but again, due to the popularity of this part of Maui, they get pretty crowded.
This is a good place to park if you plan on arriving early and spending the day at Kapalua Bay Beach and the surrounding area.
- Oneloa Beach Parking (Ironwoods Beach)
- Cost: Free
- Description: The parking area for Oneloa Beach is quite small, but the beach is less popular than Kapalua Bay Beach and D.T. Fleming beach, so you’ll likely have better luck finding a parking spot here.
This parking area is about midway on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, slightly closer to the trail’s northern end. This is a good spot if you want to explore part of the trail and then cool off at a quiet beach.
- Dragon’s Teeth Trail Parking
- Cost: Free
- Description: The parking lot for Dragon’s Teeth Trail is near the northern end of Kapalua Coastal Trail. It’s located near the Ritz Carlton. The parking area is on Office Rd. off of Lower Honoapi’ilani Hwy, near mile marker 30.
It’s a very small parking lot, so you may not be able to find a place to park. However, we went here midday on a weekday in January and had no problem finding parking.
This is a good place to park if you’d like to explore Dragon’s Teeth (Makaluapuna Point) as well!
- D.T. Fleming Beach Parking Area
- Cost: Free
- Description: This parking area is at the north end of the Kapalua Coastal Trail, making it a good parking area if you’d like to hike the whole trail. It’s a fairly big parking lot and this beach is less crowded than Kapalua Bay Beach, so you’re more likely to find parking here.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Map
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is very well marked and easy to follow, and there are a few trail map signs along the way. If you’d like to check out a map before walking, I’ve included a picture of the trail map below for reference.
Walking the Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail extends from Kapalua Bay Beach to D.T. Fleming Beach. It consists of paved pathways, dirt and gravel, rugged lava rock terrain, sand, and boardwalk.
Kapalua Coastal Trail is an out-and-back trail, so you can make it as long or short as you want. It’s located in a busier part of Maui with many nearby amenities and things to do, so you can make it a full-day adventure.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Starting Points
The whole trail is 1.76 miles one-way. You can start at either end of the trail or at one of several spots along the way. From south to north, here are the main starting points:
- Kapalua Bay Beach
- Oneloa Beach
- Dragon’s Teeth (Ritz Carlton)
- D.T. Fleming Beach
Attractions and Must-See Stops Along Kapalua Coastal Trail
There are quite a few stops and attractions along the Kapalua Coastal Trail. This trail is more about the journey than the destination. There are beaches for lounging or snorkeling, places to sightsee, and even cliff jumping! From south to north, here are some of the main attractions along the Kapalua Coastal Trail:
Kapalua Bay Beach
Kapalua Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Maui, for good reason! It’s a beautiful beach with white sands and calm blue waters. This is the type of beach you envision when you think of Hawaiian beaches!
Kapalua Bay Beach is a great beach for snorkeling or just lounging in the sun. If you don’t like crowds though, you may want to pass on this one as it gets pretty crowded. There are also no lifeguards at this beach.
Namalu Bay (Cliff House)
Just north of Kapalua Bay Beach is Namalu Bay. You have to go off the Kapalua Coastal Trail and follow another trail to get to Namalu Bay. This is a rocky beach (also known as Cliff House). This is a popular spot for cliff jumping if you’re brave enough to do so! Of course, always be careful and use good judgment. If that water is rough, don’t go swimming.
Hawea Point (Hawea Tide Pools)
Shortly after Namalu Bay, you’ll follow the trail to Hawea Point, where you’ll get scenic views of Molokai.
Here you can check out the waves crashing into the Hawea Point Tide Pools. Although they look pretty, It’s not advised to swim here as it is quite dangerous.
Important: Please make sure to stay on the trail at all times in this area. This area is protected because it’s a nesting and breeding habitat for the endangered ‘Ua‘u Kani (the wedge-tailed shearwater).
Oneloa Beach (Ironwoods Beach)
Oneloa Beach, also known as Ironwoods Beach, named for the Ironwood trees surrounding it, is a ¼-mile long, white sand beach roughly at the midway point on Kapalua Coastal Trail.
If you’re looking for a secluded beach away from the crowds and bustle, then this is the place to go! There is no lifeguard on duty here, so swim at your own risk.
Dragon’s Teeth (Makaluapuna Point)
Makaluapuna Point, also known as Dragon’s Teeth due to its resemblance to a Dragon’s Mouth, is a short extra hike off of the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
Walking out to Dragon’s Teeth will add an extra 0.6 miles to your trek, but the views are worth it!
D.T. Fleming Park
The last stop (or first) on the Kapalua Coastal Trail is D.T. Fleming Park.
D.T. Fleming Beach is a nicely shaded beach due to the large Ironwoods Trees surrounding it. This is a popular spot for experienced surfers. Though there is a lifeguard on duty, the water can be dangerous at times. Always check conditions before swimming.
In the winter, keep an eye open for whales!
Kapalua Coastal Trail Running
Kapalua Coastal Trail is ideal if you’re looking for a flat, mostly-paved running trail for your vacation! However, there is very little shade on the trail, so I recommend getting there right at sunrise to avoid the midday heat. The trail also gets busier as the day goes on.
What to Wear to Hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is not as strenuous as some of the other hiking trails in Maui. However, there are a few key items you may want to wear to make the most of your hiking experience.
- Bathing suit
There are a few beaches that line the trail. I definitely recommend bringing a bathing suit to cool down in the ocean after your walk!
- Hat, sunglasses, light-weight sun-protective clothing
There is not much shade on this trail, and the Maui sun is strong! You’ll definitely want to take precautions to protect your skin and eyes from the harsh sun.
- Good walking shoes or sandals
While I don’t think it’s necessary to wear hiking shoes for this trail, you may want to wear a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sandals.
What to Bring
Again, since this isn’t a strenuous hike, you likely won’t need your typical hiking gear. However, there are a few items you can bring to make your day better!
- Snorkel Gear
Some of the prime snorkel locations on Maui are just off this trail. Bring your snorkel gear to round out your Maui experience.
- Reef-Safe Sunscreen
The sun in Maui is STRONG! You definitely don’t want to be caught without sunscreen. Just make sure your grab one that’s reef-safe!
While this isn’t your typical Maui hike through the jungle, there is no lack of scenery and phot-ops! Pack your camera if you like to take memorable pics of your vacation!
- Water and snacks
There are many places along the trail to stop and grab some food and hydration, but I still think it’s always a good idea to carry along some snacks and water.
Quick Tips and What to Know Before You Go
Before you head to the Kapalua Coastal Trail for a shoreline stroll, here are some quick tips to make your day run smoothly
- Plan your day ahead of time
Kapalua is a bustling area with many beaches, resorts, restaurants, and things to do (see below). While this isn’t the area to avoid crowds, there are a plethora of things to do!
You can easily make it a full day exploring the surrounding area, especially if you’re coming from another part of the island and want to make the most of your time.
- Stay on the trail at all times
Part of the trail is an important breeding habitat for the endangered wedge-tailed shearwater (see below). There are also areas of cultural significance along the trail, like ancient Hawaiian Burial sites. Because of this, it is vital to respect the land and the culture and stay on marked trails at all times.
- It’s free to walk
If you’re on a budget, this is one of the few completely free things to do on Maui.
- Enjoy the views
This trail has views of crystal blue ocean, lava rock cliffs, pristine Hawaiian beaches, and the island of Molokai in the distance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime walk. Make sure to stop and soak it all in!
- Use caution when swimming and climbing on cliffs/rocks
While the trail is mostly flat and paved, there are some areas you’ll be trekking over lava rocks. Always use caution and wear appropriate shoes!
If you decide to enjoy one of the beaches and go for a swim, check the conditions beforehand. There isn’t a lifeguard at every beach, so stick to your swimming ability.
- Don’t take anything from the trail
It can be tempting to take a rock or a sample of beach sand as a souvenir to remember your trip, however, this is not only disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture, but it’s also illegal. Enjoy the beauty but please leave all natural resources undisturbed.
- Bring along a light jacket
This part of the island is quite windy, and it’s not uncommon for an afternoon rain. If you get chilled easily, you may want to bring a light jacket!
- Keep a watch for turtles and whales
This is a great place to watch for turtles or whales. Turtles can be spotted year-round, and you may catch a glimpse of some whales in the winter months.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Bird Recovery
Along the Kapalua Trail, around Hāwea Point and the 2-acres surrounding it, is Hawai’i Land Trust’s conservation easement. This area is an important breeding colony for the endangered wedge-tailed shearwater (Hawaiian name: ‘Ua‘u Kani).
Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters (‘Ua‘u Kani)
The ‘ua‘u kani are large, ground-burrowing seabirds. They form long-pair bonds and breed in natal-colonies. They typically return to the same natal-colony year after year, and both parents are involved with all aspects of tending to offspring.
These seabirds excavate burrows in firm sand and rock crevices. They only lay 1 egg per season, which is why it is vital to protect them and their breeding habitat. The incubation period is 52 – 55 days and the chick period is 100 – 115 days.
One of their biggest threats is humans walking over their unseen burrows, causing them to collapse, damaging their home, and killing their one offspring. Also, disruption to their nesting area will cause the parents to leave their egg unattended, leaving them susceptible to predators.
Hāwea Point Conservation Easement
In the early 2000s, a local Nāpili resident, Isao Nakagawa, noticed the birds in the area dying. Nakagawa reached out to Dr. Fern Duvall of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and began efforts to protect these birds and their habitat.
The Hawea Point Conservation Easement is now protected by the Hawaiʻi Land Trust, Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project, and the Kapalua Resort Association. Their work grew the colony from just 6 birds in 2001 to over 500 nesting pairs now at Hawea.
In addition to protecting the seabird’s nesting territory, this conservation easement also ensures public shoreline access and the preservation of sacred Hawaiian cultural sites.
What To Do Close to the Kapalua Coastal Trail
Kapalua is one of the top resort locations on Maui, so apart from the beaches and other attractions listed above, there’s no lack of things to do in this area! From places to eat, golfing, shopping, and historic sites, Kapalua offers a little bit for everyone.
Places to Eat
Merriman’s is at the start (or end) of Kapalua Coastal Trail by Kapalua Beach. Merriman’s offers ocean views, farm-to-table food, and delicious cocktails. This is the perfect stop to refuel and relax after your walk along the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
Cane and Canoe is located at Montage Kapalua Bay, roughly halfway between Kapalua Bay and Oneloa Beach. Cane and Canoe offers high-end Hawaiian cuisine with spectacular views. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Burger Shack is at the other end of the trail. It’s just a short walk from Dragon’s Teeth and right on the beach. Here you can find burgers, hot dogs, and decadent shakes with spectacular ocean views.
Things to Do
Kapalua is home to some of the most breathtaking golf courses in the world, The Plantation Course and The Bay Course.
Stop by the Honolua Store and pick up a bite to eat and a Hawaiian Souvenir.
Other Hikes In Kapalua
Mahana Ridge Trail
The Mahana Ridge Trail starts at the end of the Kapalua Coastal Trail by D.T. Fleming Park. So, if you didn’t get enough of a hike, you can adventure on to this difficult ~10-mile out-and-back trail.
Village Walking Trails
The Village Walking Trails are a network of trails ranging from easy to difficult. These trails start at the Kapalua Village Center. A release form must be completed before you can hike.
Other Hikes in Maui
Looking for some other hikes on Maui? There are a plethora of choices ranging from easy to difficult! Here are some of the top trails on Maui:
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!
Honolua Bay Access Trail
Honolua Bay Access Trail is an easy 0.6-mile 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.
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.
‘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.
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.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Review
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a great trail with scenic ocean views for an easy and laid-back stroll close to amenities. However, if you’re looking for a difficult Hawaiian hike through the jungle, this one isn’t it, but it’s still well worth the visit.
Make it a day in Kapalua by walking the coastal trail, exploring some of Maui’s best beaches and landmarks, eating some Hawaiian cuisine, and rounding out the day with a spectacular sunset.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Pictures
Kapalua Coastal Trail FAQs
It can take anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours to hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail, depending on how long you spend exploring the area.
Parts of the Kapalua Coastal Trail are paved. The rest consists of boardwalk, sand, and lava rock.
You can start the Kapalua Coastal Trail at either Kapalua Bay or D.T. Fleming Park. See above for other places to start and info on parking.
There are several parking areas for Kapalua Coastal Trail depending on where you want to start. The main parking area is near Kapalua Bay Beach. See above for other options, costs, and descriptions.
Yes, the Kapalua Coastal Trail is a completely free activity to do on Maui.
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is 1.76 miles one way (3.5 miles out and back).
No, but it’s on the same part of the island. Nakalele Blowhole is about 9-10 miles away (~30 minute drive time) from Kapalua Coastal Trail, and can easily be done on the same day.
The Ritz Carlton has direct access to the Kapalua Coastal Trail. You will be walking past the Ritz Carlton if you walk the length of the Kapalua Coastal trail, which is either a landmark sight or an eyesore, depending on your preferences for that sort of thing!