10 free things to do or see on Maui: No. 5 trails and nature

Maui Hawaii

Note: Links to other posts at end.

As an island, Maui’s hiking options range from easy-to-walk paths to challenging climbs. They’re all free.

Here are some of my favorites:

Ka’anapali Beach Walkway: The 2.7-mile out-and-back trail north of Lahaina contains sections that are paved, packed dirt and boardwalk. The palm tree-lined path is mostly flat with beautiful views of the beach and many beachfront resorts, such as the Black Rock Sheraton. The trail runs south through Wahikuli State Park and along the waterfront in Lahaina village.

Map of Ka'anapali Walkway
The green line along the coast shows the Ka’anapali Walkway. (Google Maps)

Wailea Coastal Nature Trail: This 1.5-mile, out-and-back trail near Kihei offers beautiful wildflowers and vistas. This easy walk on a paved path winds by five beaches and stunning views of four islands — West Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokini. You may see sea turtles along the shore or humpback whales in the ocean during season. It gets busy, so consider walking in early morning or late afternoon.

Kapalua Resort trails: The resort provides access to miles of coastal and mountain trails. Kapalua Coastal Trail is a pretty 3.5-mile trail (round trip) that runs north from Kapalua Bay Beach through the Ritz-Carlton to DT Fleming Beach Park. Village Walking Trails is a network of six paths that go from Kapalua Village Center along the golf cart path of a former golf course. 

The green line n this map shows the Kapalua Coastal Trail. (Google Maps)

Hike to Nakalele Blowhole: A roughly 1-mile walk leads to a hole in the ground linked to a partially submerged ocean cave. When waves crash into the rocks, water is pushed through the hole to spout up to 100 feet into the air. There isn’t really a trail; just make your way across the rugged lava rock landscape. You don’t have to hike right up to the blowhole to see its geyser-like eruptions. There also are tidepools, stunning ocean views and odd-shaped rock formations. It’s about a 35-minute drive from Lahaina to the blowhole on Kahekili Highway (340).

Note: I snapped the featured photo of visitors at the spouting Nakalele Blowhole.

  1. Links to nine other free things to do or see on Maui:

    1. Shows

    2. Beaches

    3. Lessons

    4. Farmers markets

    6. Wildlife

    7. Art and festivals

    8. Scenic drives

    9. Transportation

    10. Parking

Surf’s up: Hit the top 10 beaches this summer


It’s summer. That means it’s time to hit to the beach.

Whether you grew up near a beach, vacation at a beach or married on a beach, chances are you have fond memories of surf somewhere at some time.

The nation’s No. 1 beach this year is Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii, according to coastal ecologist Dr. Beach, aka Stephen P. Leatherman. (See my photo of Kapalua Bay Beach at top.) He’s a professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. The rest of his top 10 list is at the end of this post.

Sea turtle
This was one of two sea turtles that swam very close to the shore of Kapalua Bay Beach in April. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

When I visited the crescent-shaped, white-sand Kapalua Beach along Maui’s west coast in April, I could stand right next to sea turtles frolicking in the shallows.

Kapalua is one of the island’s safest swimming areas and its clear azure water and sheltered location (the bay is protected by two headlands formed by lava flows ages ago) make it a good snorkeling spot. It’s also near a few restaurants, bars and a water sports rental hut.

Great beaches

So, just what makes a beach great?

For me, it either has to be large enough for long walks or have a great surf for swimming and boogie boarding.

For Abbey Burns, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, a great beach must be swimmable, have little to no wind and provide “an insurance plan in case you forget something,” such as a snack shack or shop, according to Abbey Burns.

Her favorite beach is Mayflower Beach in Dennis (Cape Cod), Mass. During college, she went there every year to stay at a friend’s family home.

“I really love it because at low tide the beach is huge and you don’t even notice other people are there,” Burns said. Beaches in the Bay Area are too windy, she said.

Feet in the sand
Criteria for Dr. Beach’s top 10 list include the type of vistas and the color and softness of the sand. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

Click here to continue reading and see the rest of the Top 10 list: Continue reading Surf’s up: Hit the top 10 beaches this summer