Need a relaxing stroll in the morning on your Maui vacation? Check out the Kapalua Coastal Trail, an easy hike along the beautiful Maui northwest coastline.
And what does the Kapalua Coastal Trail hike offer?
Beautiful sandy beaches and spectacular bay views? Check! Interesting family fun sections with tide pools to explore and nesting birds to observe? Check!
Ritzy resorts with alluring beachfront burger joints and bars? Check! Crazy lava formations and labyrinths to see? Check!
Best of all, the Kapalua Coastal Trail hike is easy and fun for the whole family, and completely free, even parking!
You can’t go wrong with the Kapalua Coastal Trail hike: from romantic sunsets to early morning jogs, this versatile hike is one of my favorites on the island of Maui!
And if you are staying at the Ritz Carlton or the Montage or nearby, this hike is likely one of the first you’ll take on your vacation!
Visiting Maui and enjoy hiking? Check out our in-depth guide to the best hikes in Maui! From rainforest, waterfall hikes like Twin Falls Trail and Pipiwai Trail to surreal landscape hikes like the Sliding Sands Trail to view hikes like the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, Maui has it all!
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Kapalua Coastal Trail Hike: Fast Facts
Kapalua Coastal Trail Difficulty
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is rated as easy!
The trail sections are variously paved, wooden boardwalk, packed mud, or rocky paths.
While trail is mostly well-marked, there are a few spots where you lose the trail a bit over rocky sections and may need to scramble over some of the rockier areas, but usually quite manageable.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Length or Distance
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is a 2-mile one way, so a a total distance of about 4 miles for the out-and-back hike.
If you take some of the side trails to the Dragon’s Teeth (Makaluapuna Point) or to the cliff house or Hawea Point, you will add a mile or two.
Since this trail is out-and-back, you can cut short the distance easily by turning back whenever you so desire.
If you are seeking a longer hike, you can easily tack on the Napili Bay Beach Trail, about an additional mile, starting from Kapalua Bay.
At the other end, from D.T. Fleming Beach Park, you also have the trailhead for the Mahana Ridge Trail, a difficult 10-mile, out-and-back hike.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Elevation Gain
The Kapalua Coastal Trail elevation gain is about 250 feet, quite minimal.
You have a few steps at the end of the Ironwoods section and some minor inclines, but for the most part, this trail doesn’t involve a lot of climbing up and down.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Time Taken
The Kapalua Coastal Trail takes about an hour to complete, depending on your pace and the side trails that you take.
This is a very popular running trail, and obviously will take a lot less if you are jogging.
We took closer to two hours, we wanted to explore the tide pools and the dragon’s teeth area.
What about Kids and Dogs on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, Maui?
Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, though I’ve seen dogs on leash near the residential sections.
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the best family hikes on Maui, and is kid-friendly.
While taking strollers and wheelchairs won’t be possible in parts of the trail (there are some steps and non-smooth surfaces), you can easily manage backpack baby or toddler carriers.
With a lot to explore and keep the kids busy, this is a popular spot for family hikes.
Getting to the Kapalua Coastal Trail Trailhead
The beautiful Kapalua Coastal Trail is located a few miles north of Lahaina and Kaanapali in upscale Kapalua, home to ritzy resorts like the Ritz Carlton and the Montage Hotel, world-class golf courses, and beachfront mansions, villas and condominiums.
The trail is easily accessible from either end or multiple points in the middle.
For simplicity, I will describe the trail from the Kapalua Bay trailhead, the south end, and closer to Lahaina.
If you are coming from Lahaina or Kaanapali, you will take the Honoapiilani Highway (Hwy 30) up north for about 15-30 minutes.
I usually enter kapalua coastal trail kapalua hi 96761 on Google Maps.
Once you are in the neighborhood, and have decided where you want to start the hike from, find the closest parking from the below section.
Public restrooms are available at Kapalua Bay and D.T. Fleming Park.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Parking
Love free parking? That’s the other nice thing about hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail: convenient free public parking!
Obviously, so do the rest of us, to find a free parking spot your best bet is to come in early or on weekdays.
On weekends and busy weekday times, your best option is the D.T. Fleming Beach Park parking lot, which is much larger and not as popular as the other lots.
Kapalua Bay Free Parking
If you’re coming from the direction of Lahaina, this one is the closest (but also the most popular). This lot is small and will fill up quickly.
Take the Napilihau St exit of the Honoapiilani Highway, turn right on Lower Honoapiilani Road all the way to Kapalua Bay.
The parking lot is called the Sea House and Kapalua Coastal Trail parking lot and is free, and the trailhead is right next to the parking lot.
D.T. Fleming Beach Park Free Parking
Usually I just head to this free parking lot because it is much larger and I’ve never had an issue finding parking here.
Also a bit more convenient, you stay on Honoapiilani Hwy and take a left on the second Lower Honoapiilani Road exit, and you are almost immediately at the parking lot.
You are basically going to hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail in the reverse direction, and the trailhead is right next to the Mahana Ridge Trail trailhead.
Ironwoods Kapalua Free Parking
If you don’t find parking in Kapalua Bay Parking, continue on the Lower Honoapiilani Road. The next free parking option you will come to is the one for the Oneloa Beach (Ironwoods Beach).
Dragon’s Teeth Free Parking
Continue along Lower Honoapiilani Road and you will come to the Dragon’s Teeth free public parking lot.
Small and usually full, if you do get a spot here, you are right next to the Ritz Carlton and Makaluapuna Point (Dragon’s Teet).
Best Time to Hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is open from sunrise to sunset, year round.
I personally prefer to jog this trail early morning or late evening. Sunrises and sunsets from any part of the trail are spectacular.
Most of the trail is open with no shade, so the middle of the day can get hot.
We did a family hike late morning, which was bearable because the day was windy, and the breeze really helped.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Map
The Kapalua Coastal Trail map below outlines the hiking path and the main locations identified in this guide.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Information
The Kapalua Coastal Trail is an out-and-back hike, and you can start from either end, Kapalua Bay or D.T. Fleming Beach Park, or even from points in the middle, depending on where you parked.
The trail begins at the Kapalua Coastal Trailhead trailhead signpost with maps just beyond the parking lot, and starts of as a paved walkway.
Kapalua Bay Beach
The trail starts as a paved walkway from the south end of Kapalua Bay Beach. You get beautiful views of the ocean and the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai.
There are multiple points along the trail with beach access paths, so feel free to walk up to the beach.
And why is Kapalua Bay Beach one of the most popular beaches in Maui? A spectacular bay with calm, blue waters and a crescent-shaped beach with white powdered sand, what an incredible way to start your Kapalua Coastal Trail hike!
Hiking with smaller kids? You may prefer the D. T. Fleming Beach at the end of the trail, which is usually much less crowded and has better facilities and lifeguards.
Namalu Bay (Cliff House)
Further up on the Kapalua Coastal Trail you come to Namalu Bay and an iconic cliff house, a house set right on the edge of the cliffs.
Renovated and operated by the Montage Hotel, the Cliff House is now available for private events. The Montage Hotel, an upscale ritzy resort-like hotel, sprawls on the other side of the trail.
We had a small, wedding anniversary celebration there, and it was one of our most romantic evenings, enjoying a cozy dinner overlooking the ocean!
The cliffs below and around the Cliff House are accessible by a small trail (look for a distinctive light lampost), and is a popular haunt for the local kids.
You can see many of them jumping off the cliffs into the ocean, the more daring ones from higher cliffs! They have cute white ladder to take them back up for the next jump.
The corals around the cliffs are a great place for snorkeling.
The Kapalua Coastal Trail turns into a packed mud trail that takes you past an area protected for nesting seabirds.
The island’s largest nesting colony of wedge-tailed shearwaters (u’au kani), a ground burrowing bird, is located just off the trail, and I’ve seen birds with their somewhat noisy chicks, often in poorly concealed burrows.
The trail is marked off here with ropes and a sign explaining the need for caution.
A bit beyond the nesting area is Hawea Point with many Kapalua tidepools, a trail detour worth exploring if you have the time. You also get really nice views of Molokai from here.
Oneloa Beach (Ironwoods Beach)
After this short but beautiful nature section, the Kapalua Coastal Trail reverts to a wooden boardwalk that takes you along Oneloa Beach (Ironwoods Beach) surrounded by ironwood trees on one side and the Kapalua Bay Villas and their manicured green lawns on the other.
While beautiful, the Oneloa Beach seemed a bit windswept and didn’t look good for swimming, with lots of rough corals close to the shore.
The close shorebreak, though, is well suited for surfing and boogie boarding. I’ve seen some locals bodysurf these waves, and that was real cool!
You can gape at the beautiful seafront mansions and some of the most expensive real estate in all of Hawaii on the other side of the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
You have to climb a bunch of steps, and there are showers midway up the steps, if you want to wash off the beach sand.
At the top of the steps, on your right, you will see the gated entrance to the Ironwoods condominiums that you passed, and the trail continues along the road sidewalk to your left and further up along Lower Honoapiilani Road.
Dragon’s Teeth (Makaluapuna Point)
The Dragon’s Teeth Access Trail is a must-add section to your Kapalua Coastal Trail hike, and you come to a scenic viewpoint overlooking the surf.
The sudden cooling of the molten lava flow against the ocean waters resulted in a freak natural wonder, not unlike the lower jaw of a dragon with huge, sculpted teeth.
You must view this from a helicopter to fully appreciate the scale of this lava rock formation.
But even at ground level, you can but admire at what nature has wrought here, with these beautiful rock formations.
A bit further up, you come to the Kapalua Labyrinth, a white coral maze built in 2005 for peaceful walking meditation, and is the largest maze in Maui.
I make it a point to get as close to Dragon’s Pointe, the tip of the arm jutting into the ocean. From here you get spectacular views of the ocean, and I’ve seen humpback whales with calves breaching nearby.
Not winter? I still recommend you head out here or Hawea Point, especially early morning or late evening. I’ve seen spinner dolphins streaking out of these waters as well.
D.T. Fleming Beach Park
The last section of the Kapalua Coastal Trail hike is yet another beautiful beach, the D.T. Fleming Beach Park, with family-oriented grass lawns and picnic areas.
Hiking with smaller kids? This is your go-to beach, with better facilities and lifeguards.
Your kids can try out boogie boarding and surfing with gentler swells here or just play in the water and swim!
The Kapalua Coastal Trail hike ends at the far north end of D.T. Fleming Beach Park, and you can turn here to head back.
Tips for Hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastal Trail goes along multiple beaches and nature, with opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, boogie boarding, surfing, and snorkeling to name a few.
If you plan on any of these, make sure you bring the appropriate clothing and gear.
Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must if you are going to hike in the sun. Hang on to your hat, it can get windy.
I prefer hiking shoes, especially on the offshoot trails to the viewpoints and cliffs. The trail is quite forgiving, and you can get by with sneakers or jogging shoes.
Make sure you take a lot of water and snacks.
If you do plan to indulge in fine dining, be sure to make reservations. All the restaurants mentioned below tend to be packed.
I am never the first to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles, breaching humpback whales or spinner dolphins, but rest assured, someone will spot them and a crowd will form quickly.
Carry a good pair of binoculars and keep your camera or smartphone handy, and check out what the crowd is about!
Finally, heed the warning signs along the Kapalua Coastal Trail, and stay safe on the hike!
What Else to Do near the Kapalua Coastal Trail?
Fine Dining Restaurants for the Romantic Couple
Hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail as a couple? Check out some of the beautiful beachfront restaurants along the trail.
What could be more romantic than fine dining and admiring a stunning sunset? With so many 5-star resorts, can fine dining be far off?
Chef Peter Merriman’s Kapalua is a farm-to-table, oceanfront restaurant featuring Hawaiian regional cuisine, right at the start of the Kapalua Coastal Trail hike.
A bit further up, the Montage Kapalua Bay offers a sunset luau or you can choose the more cozy Cane & Canoe which features a land and sea menu.
At the other end, the Ritz Carlton’s Burger Shack is my favorite for a mid-hike lunch, where you can dine alfresco on the beachfront patio.
I highly recommend their wagyu beef burgers and mouth-watering shakes, but if you are counting calories, the fish tacos or vegan burgers are a yummy alternative.
For a more formal dinner, book a reservation at their Banyan Tree restaurant, a AAA 4-Diamond retaurant serving Hawaiian Coastal cuisine. You are in for a real treat!
Hike the Mahana Ridge Trail
Starting from near where the Kapalua Coastal Trail ends on the D.T. Fleming Beach, the Mahana Ridge Trail hike is a difficult 10-mile hike up a ridge to the Maunalei Arboretum.
You are climbing about 2,500 feet up the ridge, and the hike takes about 6 hours, but the payoff is stunning views of Kapalua Bay and West Maui!
More Maui Travel Inspiration
If you are considering a trip to Maui, read some of our other comprehensive guides to craft the ultimate Maui itinerary!
- Haleakala National Park: A First-Timers’ Guide!
- Sunrise at Haleakala: Tips and Information
- Best Snorkeling Spots near Lahaina
- A Complete Guide to Whale Watching in Maui!
- Snorkel with Green Sea Turtles in Turtle Town Maui!
- The Best Stops on the Road to Hana!
- How to Visit Maui’s Black Sand Beach
- Molokini Crater Snorkeling Maui
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