Our family loves to go hiking and exploring out in nature, especially when we’re on vacation in a gorgeous location like The Grand Wailea in south Maui.
During our Molokini snorkeling trip, Captain Seth of Red Line Rafting took us to La Pérouse Bay for some local history and lore and geological facts. He also recommended that if we have time and like to hike, we should hike The King’s Trail around La Pérouse Bay.
La Pérouse Bay
Located south of Wailea at the very end of Makena Alanui Road, you’ll find Keone’o’io Bay, later named La Pérouse Bay after the French explorer Captain Jean-François de La Pérouse, the first European to set foot on Maui in 1786. Sitting at the bottom of Haleakalā, La Pérouse Bay is not what you’d expect to find along the shores of Maui — it’s volcanic terrain and lava sea cliffs are sharp and rugged, and it feels almost like you’re on another planet!
The drive to La Pérouse Bay continued several bumpy miles past the last houses on Makena Alanui Road, through a huge lava field, and provided ample opportunities to pull off the road and do a little exploring along the way. We stopped to hike through some tide pools, along volcanic rocks, and found a deserted beach — and even though it was overcast, we took the opportunity to put on sunscreen before our hike.
After learning about the history surrounding Maui’s most recent volcanic activity (1790), and snorkeling in the middle of it, I was looking forward to hiking around La Pérouse Bay on The King’s Trail.
The King’s Trail
Built in the 16th century, The King’s Trail, also called The King’s Highway, is a footpath created by King Pi‘ilani that once stretched around the entire island of Maui.
The trail starts at a dirt parking lot at the end of Makena Alanui Road and continues along the shoreline through a shaded grove of trees, past several small, secluded coves, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll even see walls made of lava rocks, which are the remains of old Hawaiian settlements.
Sharp, jagged, black, lava rocks, lava arches, and tidepools line both sides of the trail for most of the hike. On some parts of the trail, you’re even hiking on top of a roadbed of sharp lava rocks — so be sure to wear sturdy shoes that protect your feet! Natalie, Carter, and I were wearing flip flops and Brian was wearing tennis shoes, and ALL of our feet hurt!
From the bright blue water in the bay and the rich green mountainside of Haleakalā, to the black lava rocks and bright white sea shells and coral dotting the beaches and shoreline, the views throughout this hike are simply gorgeous.
It was super hot during our hike, and we desperately wanted to jump in the water, but none of the beaches along La Pérouse Bay looked very friendly or safe. There were simply too many lava rocks and large waves. We saw other people hiking it with snorkel gear and we were thankful to have already snorkeled in the Bay away from the treacherous shoreline!
With our water and snacks left in the rental car (major hiking foul!), we decided to skip the last leg of the hike out to Keawanaku Beach and Cape Hanamanioa. We were just way too hot and tired.
Jaws Fish Tacos Food Truck
By the time we got back in the car, we were starving! So when we saw the Jawz Fish Tacos Food Truck on the side of the road near Makena Beach, we pretty much freaked out — Brian had wanted fish tacos since we arrived in Maui!
Needless to say we pulled off the road and grabbed ourselves some delicious, juicy shredded pork tacos and fresh fish tacos that totally hit the spot. I also got a Shaved Ice drizzled with honey. I didn’t even know that was a thing, but now I only ever want them with honey! So good!
If you aren’t going to be in the Makena area, you should check out the Jawz Tacos Taqueria in Kihei, Maui — their tacos were seriously were that good.
Tips For Hiking The King’s Trail In La Pérouse Bay:
If you’re planning on visiting La Pérouse Bay or hiking The King’s Trail, here are some tips to ensure you have a great experience:
- Get there early in the morning. The parking lot is small, it gets hot, and there isn’t any shade for most of the hike.
- Snorkeling is awesome in the bay, but again get there early because the wind picks up later in the day and the wind and lava rocks don’t play nice.
- Make sure everyone uses the restroom before you leave your hotel or vacation house. There are only two port-a-potties in the parking lot and that’s it.
- Wear closed toe, supportive shoes to protect your feet from the sharp lava rocks alongside and on the trail.
- Bring LOTS of water and snacks — trust me on this one, you’ll need it — the dark lava rocks absorb solar heat so it’s quite a bit hotter here.
- Don’t bring home any lava rocks. If you do, it’s said that the Gods will curse you with bad luck!
- If you see the Jawz Tacos Food Truck, do yourself a favor and stop. It may just be the best meal you have while on vacation in Maui!
What About You?
Have you ever hiked The King’s Trail or King’s Highway at La Pérouse Bay? Did you make it all the way to Keawanaku Beach and Cape Hanamanioa?
I’d love to hear from you!