Where is Wai’anapanapa State Park
Wai’anapanapa State Park is located on the infamous remote North East Hana coastline on Maui, Hawaii. From the main downtown of Kahului, there is only one road out to Hana. Hana Highway takes you 51 miles and 2 hours through the lush jungle of the north coastline of Maui toward the remote Hana town and state park. With 620 curves and 59 bridges, this road is not for the faint of heart. Just 10 minutes before reaching Hana town, Wai’anapanapa State Park is a turn off the main road toward the ocean.
How Big is Wai’anapanapa State Park
Wai’anapanapa State Park is a small park at only 122 acres. The US State Park offers a lot to do and incredible unique sites. A 2,000-foot trail along the coast passes by historical sites such as Pictographs, a Heiau (Hawaiian Burial Site), historic cemetery, Black sand beach, and Pukaula viewpoint. The freshwater lava tube cave pools are a short 20-foot walk from the parking area. Although a small park, the sites are so incredible here and are a once in a lifetime site.
Wai’anapanapa State Park Weather
Hana, Hawaii is a lush rainforest that receives 171 days of rain and up to 82” of precipitation a year. The rainy season is from October through April with frequent daily rainfall of at least .5 inches. The dry time of year and also most popular in Hana is from May through August.
Temperature does not vary much with an average of 70 degrees year-round. In August temperatures reach a high up to 85 degrees during the day and a low of 70 during evenings. In January temperatures can reach a low down to 61 degrees at night and a high of 80 during the day.
Hurricane Season in Hawaii is from June through November. Hana is an exposed, remote, town and can often be one of the first hit places on the island of Maui from incoming storms. Because of Hana’s remoteness and dangerous highway in and out to the town, returning back to downtown Maui before storms hit is key to your safety.
When did Wai’anapanapa become a State Park
In the 1500’s royalty ruled the Kingdom of Hawaii. Hana was a bustling center for Hawaiians living off of the lush land and ocean providing them with everything they needed to thrive. The King’s Trail that now goes through this state park, dates back to the 1550’s and was used by the King to survey his land.
Wai’anapanapa has always been a sacred and highly respect places for native Hawaiians and present-day locals and tourist alike. It contains many burial sites, some still unfound. The exact date of the state park creation is unclear.
Things to do in Wai’anapanapa State Park
The park has a lot to enjoy such as the fresh water cave pools, black sand beach, the blowhole, and a few hiking trails! Our National Park Visitors Guide lists activities below.
Swim at Pa’iloa Beach
This black sand beach is a well-known spot for visitors. Eroded lava rock overtime washed up onto the shore of this beach creating the black sand. The water can get rough here with high surf and very strong currents. Without a lifeguard, decide whether your swimming ability is strong enough to handle these north shore Maui currents and waves.
Hike and swim in the Anchialine Pool Caves
Follow a short loop trail to two pools located in lava tubes. The name of this park originates from the crystal clear, freshwater pools. The water from the pools is spring-fed and very refreshing and cool. There are also hidden caves underwater you can view with a flashlight and snorkel.
Hike to the Blowhole
A short walk east takes you to a lava rock blowhole out on a point. The blowhole is created from a cave underground with an opening to the ocean, making a suction effect to force the waves and current up and out of the blowhole. Avoid getting too close as people have fallen in and that ends in fatality.
Hike The King’s Trail
The ¾ mile trail passes a historic Hawaiian cemetery, the blowhole, a grove of native Hala trees, and Ohala Heiau (burial site). The trail continues on for up to 5 miles and leaves the state park. Staying on the designated trail is important as there are hidden burials all throughout this area that are unmarked, and some are even unfound.
Camp in the campground and wake up for Sunrise
Camping on the East side of Maui is the only place you can see sunrise over the ocean from the island. So, wake up early for the magical ocean sunrise.
When to go to Wai’anapanapa State Park
This park is great to visit year-round, minding the weather. Visiting May through September during the driest months will likely bring the sunniest and warmest days to enjoy the beach and freshwater pools. May through August is also the busiest time making the beach and pools very crowded with tourist and locals alike out on summer vacation. The state park sees high visitor numbers throughout the summer with the campground booking up, so reserving a spot in advance is necessary.
List of Parks suggests visiting in the Spring around April is great to beat the crowds, have sunny weather, and even spot late season Humpback Whales starting to migrate back to Alaska for summer. After August visitation goes down as school is back in session. The fall is dry, sunny, and perhaps the best time to visit this state park.
Must-Have things to bring to Wai’anapanapa State Park
This remote part of the island of Maui requires lots of preparation as there are plenty of opportunities to get injured out on the slick and sharp lava rock, pools, and strong ocean.
First Aid Kit
There are a lot of sharp lava rocks in this area that can easily cut your hands, feet, or any exposed skin that touches the rock. The remote area around Hana is known for having accidents with tourists. Being prepared with your own first aid kit is very important as help is a long way away.
Proper Hiking Boots
Walking along the lava rocks and near the blowhole will require thick rubber soled boots as to not get cut up by the sharp lava rock.
Water and Snacks
The humidity causes you to sweat a lot here so drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.
Rain jacket and extra layers
Even in warm temperatures, the cold water of the spring fed pools can send your body into shock and hypothermia. Bring warm layers to warm up after jumping in the cold pools. Hana receives rain almost daily, so make sure to bring a rain jacket in case you get stuck in a rainstorm.
Swimsuit, beach gear, towel
The black sand beach will be great to hang out on and relax. Bring a towel, snorkel gear, and your swimsuit to enjoy the water! Check the surf, currents, and tide before getting in as there is no lifeguard here.
Where to stay in Wai’anapanapa State Park
There is camping available in the state park itself, a hotel in Hana town, and many bed and breakfasts for rent in Hana town as well. The state park offers cabins for rent for a 2-night minimum at $90 per cabin per night and must be reserved online. Tent sites are available by reservation at $18/night. Further down the road is another campground option at Hana Bay Beach Park, and Koki Beach Park. Hana town offers several hotel and bed and breakfast options right in the town, a short walk to the beach and only a 10-minute drive to the state park.
Food Nearby Wai’anapanapa State Park
There is no food in the state park so bringing your own food from Hana town or from Kahului town before driving to the park is the way to go. Hana town offers several local food eateries as well as two markets, Hana Ranch Store and Hasegawa General Store. Try some fresh locally sourced food at Hana Farms Restaurant, The Preserve Kitchen + Bar, or Hana Ranch Restaurant.
Airports near Wai’anapanapa State Park
Kahului Airport is Maui’s airport located about 2 hours away. Renting a car from Kahului and driving out to Hana is the best way to get to this state park. Stopping on the winding Hana Highway road to enjoy the sites and take a break from the exhausting road is best to avoid getting car sick. There are also a ton of breathtaking viewpoints and waterfalls to stop and enjoy on the road out to Hana.