Port Angeles, Washington
July 10, 2003
The King’s Highway Coastal Trail, or Pi’ilani trail, is part of an ancient trail that encircled the island of Maui, connecting villages and heiaus (sacred spots). The trail was commissioned by King Pi’ilani, a 14th century chief of East Maui/Hana district who conquered the rest of the territories on Maui and united Maui under his rule. Only one other section of the original trail remains, and that is the Hoapili Trail near Kihei. The original trail was "paved" with smooth rounded lava stepping stones, many of which are still in place today.
From Waianapanapa State Park, the trail goes approximately 1 mile northwest (ending at approximately the Hana airport) and also to the southeast approximately 3 miles (ending about 1 mile from Hana Bay). To hike the northwest segment, go down to the black sand beach at Waianapanapa and cross to the far side. The trail goes up onto the cliff edge and follows along the scenic coast. The black lava rock (a’a) provided a sharp contrast for both the bright green hala and naupaka plants on the cliffs, as well as the intense blue of the ocean crashing against the cliffs. The color combination was incredible.
The southeast segment of the trail is similar to the northwest segment, but with lots of added features! It starts in front of the Waianapanapa picnic area and heads toward town. It is great to hike all the way to Hana Bay (4 miles total) if you can arrange your transportation accordingly.
About ¼ mile along the trail, there are some tidepools that are always fun to look in. At ¾ mile, you will find an ancient heiau. Heiaus were built for a variety of reasons - spiritual shrines, fishing shrines, or even human sacrifice. The purpose of this heiau is unknown.
After the heiau you will pass a fishing shack perched near the cliff edge. After the fishing shack, the trail is a bit harder to follow (but not too bad) and you will likely start to feel the effects of the intense heat reflecting off the black rock. That, and distinct lack of shade, will leave you hoping you brought enough water and sunscreen.
The trail ends at a large rocky "beach". This is the turn around spot. Otherwise, you can get to Hana Bay by following a road that starts about 100 feet from where you come out on the beach. Always stay left at road junctions and you will eventually get to Hana Bay, a great place to cool off with a swim, use the restroom, and grab a snack at Tutu’s hamburger stand.
From journal Heavenly Hana (Maui)