Be sure to keep your flip-flops handy for the black sand beach in Wai‘anapanapa State Park. The beautiful ebony crescent will scorch your tootsies. The cove is spectacular with the turquoise sea meeting the black shoreline in a froth of white. Stand at the low cliff above the beach for a Maui photo op.
Behind the beach, picnic grounds, restrooms, cabins and a campground sprawl over the extensive park.
A coastal trail, following the ancient Hawaiian Pi‘ilani’s Highway, overlooks the shoreline. Hike to the north over a lava field and you’ll pass a World War II defense site. Some of the trail at this point is arranged like Pi‘ilani’s original path. Note the smooth stepping-stones of pahoehoe lava among the rough a‘a lava.
Walk in the other direction and you’ll find a heiau (Hawaiian temple). You’ll also encounter an old burial ground and grotto with a myth.
A jumble of sea stacks and natural arches punctuate the shoreline. When hot lava met the cool sea, it hardened into these fantasy forms. The surf may pound high on the beach, or lap gently at the sand.
You can spend the night in the campground. The park also has cabins, which offer the comforts of home. They must be booked at least three days in advance, though with just 12 cabins, including an accessible one, reserve far in advance.
You’ll find the park on the Hana Highway just past the Hana Airport.