Escape the beach to explore Maui trails that you might have never found. From a lava field coastline hike to an Upcountry Maui forest stroll, check out these easy Maui hikes.

With our toddler in tow, these are our favorite, easy Maui hikes.

  1. Kapalua Coastal Trail
  2. ‘Iao Valley Needle
  3. Waihou Spring Trail

Family-friendly, small elevation changes, nice paths to walk, great for social distancing, and all in beautiful areas of Maui. Check out one or all of these easy Maui hikes during your vacation.

easy family maui hikes walks kapalua coastal trail

 

Video on the 3 Best and Easy Hikes on Maui

Before we get too far into this article, hiking trails are best seen. While my prose is visually descriptive, check out our video below where we give you a full tour of these Maui trails.

 

3 Easy Maui Hikes

These are the hikes for you if you have small kids in tow, don’t need a strenuous hike, or are looking for some scenery during your Hawaii vacation.

Grab a comfortable pair of walking shoes, escape from the resort, and head out into the marvelous Maui outdoors. These three hikes will take you to parts of the island you may have never explored. 

 

Kapalua Coastal Trail

Where: Kapalua Bay on North West Maui

Trailhead Directions: Kapalua Bay Coastal Trail Starting Point

Distance: 2-mile out and back trail

Elevation Gain: 150 ft

Parking: free in the public beach access parking lot

We love this trail for a multitude of reasons. First, the trail starts at Kapalua Beach and ends at Ironwood Beach, two of the most gorgeous beaches on Maui. Then walk back for the pleasure of jumping into Kapalua Bay at the end of your hike.

The second thing we like is the trail takes you across a lava field on the edge of the ocean. Compared to the lava fields south of Wailea, Kapalua’s lava field isn’t unbearably hot or hard to hike. The lava field is also home to a bird sanctuary where we usually see bird eggs along the trail.

The trail is a paved sidewalk as it follows Kapalua Bay, the famous Cliff House, and the Montage Resort. The lava field is compacted gravel but has some tripping hazards over the lava. The trail ends on a wood boardwalk above Ironwood Beach.

With such a scenic coastal trail, have the camera ready for great pictures.

family friendly hikes maui kapalua coastal trail lava field

 

Tips for hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail

  • Closed-toe shoes are recommended for the lava field
  • Hike in the morning to miss the tradewinds that whip the point
  • Go before 10 am for parking in the public parking lot
  • Lunch: head to Merriman’s Grill for lunch or head south to Sea House or Gazebo on Napili Bay

Bonus Hike: Dragon’s Teeth

There is a short half-mile hike near The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. Walk down to the Makaluapuna Point where you will find Dragon’s Teeth.

Dragon’s Teeth is a volcanic stone coastline that looks like, you can guess it, dragon’s teeth. There is also the Kapalua Labyrinth on the point. This is a grass and stone maze that is endless fun with beautiful views of Moloka’i.

 

‘Iao Valley State Park

Where: ‘Iao Valley State Park in Central Maui, near Wailuku

Trailhead Directions: ‘Iao Valley State Park Trailhead

Distance: 0.6-mile out and back trail

Elevation Gain: 150 ft

Parking: $5 park fee or park on the street for free and walk-in

The easy hike at the ‘Iao Valley is the walk to the ‘Iao Valley Needle observation deck. Pay $5 for parking at this well-maintained Hawaii State Park. Then walk up the paved trail over waterfalls with amazing views of the valley for this perfect jungle hike.

The hike has about 80-stairs to the top of the observation deck so a stroller isn’t recommended for this hike. The rest of the park has paved ramps to make exploring the park after reaching the observation deck a breeze. 

For a little more adventure, head down to the river to walk unpaved and unofficial trails around the river. The river is also a nice place to cool-off with many pools. The trails around the river are also deep in the jungle which we love. A little bit of Hana or Kauai on Maui, an easy drive from the Ka’anapali and Wailea resort areas.

Fun fact, ‘Iao Valley is the second wettest place on Earth. Kauai is number one. The mountains in the valley get over an inch of rain a day on average. This makes the valley lush but also beware of getting wet on this hike.

maui hawaii easy hike guide iao valley state park

Tips for hiking the ‘Iao Valley

  • Sandals are adequate for the main trail
  • Restrooms, trash cans, and ample parking at the state park
  • The valley gets rainy so bring rain gear or be ready for a warm rain
  • ‘Iao Valley Needle is the main attraction – 1200’ peak (phallic stone of the god of the ocean)
  • Read all the plaques: The valley is home to Hawaiian history – chiefs (Ali’i) are buried in the cliffs, it was kapu to enter the valley to all except royalty, and the valley was the epicenter of the battle for Maui – Kamahamama I over the Maui army in 1790
  • Lunch: stop in Wailuku for hole in the wall, local lunch places, and poke markets

iao valley hike and river swim waterfalls

 

Waihou Spring Trail 

Where: Makawao in Upcountry Maui

Trailhead Directions: Waihou Spring Trailhead

Distance: 2-mile loop trail

Elevation Gain: 600 ft

Parking: free public parking lot at the trailhead

Hike through a century-old tree experiment. The forest reserve was started to protect one of the only perennial springs on the west slope of Haleakala. 

The elevation gain says 600 feet but that is to get to Waihou Springs. The main and easy trail is the Waihou loop-trail. The elevation gain is rolling hills among myriad tree species such as Monterey, Cypress, Eucalyptus, ‘Ala’a, Halapepe, and Koa. This means you are walking in the shade on a well-compacted pine needle path.

This trail is perfect for the summertime. Escape the heat along the coast for this upcountry hike. At 4,000-feet, the trail sits along the side of Haleakala Volcano for a cool mid-60-degree walk all year-long.

maui hike waihou spring trail

 

Tips for hiking the Waihou Spring Trail

  • Closed-toe shoes are recommended for the pine needle floor path
  • A port-a-john is the only restroom we saw on the trail
  • The trail is well marked
  • Breakfast or Lunch: stop in Makawao for donuts on a stick at Komoda Bakery or one of the many local restaurants for lunch in town

 

Bonus Hike: Waihou Spring

If you are looking for a moderate hike, take the off-shoot trail from the loop-trail to see Waihou Springs. This is not an easy walk. 

The trail takes you down a series of switchbacks for a 600-foot drop. You will be rewarded at the bottom with a trickling spring falling down a moss-covered volcanic rock. 

Cut into the spring wall are old irrigation channels. Many people say they are lava tubes but sorry, they are not. One can explore the inside of the irrigation tunnels but they are creepy, dark, and slippery. Enjoy the spring and then hike back up to the main trail.

maui upcountry hike waihou spring

 

Bonus Walk: Lahaina Historical Walk

If you are craving another easy hike on Maui, look right in front of you. In the touristy Lahaina town is a historic walk.

Follow the signs and plaques to explore the hidden part of Lahaina. Lahaina is rich in Hawaiian and post-contact Hawaiian history. Pick up some shave ice and stroll the backstreets of Lahaina.

easy maui hike lahaina historic walk

 

Prepare for Your Easy Maui Hikes

These are all easy hikes but they are still hikes. Hikes in a climate that your body is not used to being in. So come prepared. 

We recommend you bring water, the right shoes, breathable clothes, and be well-rested before you hit the trail. Check out our video above so you are familiar with the trail and what to expect. We don’t want you to pass out while on these hikes.

Your Maui vacation should be a wonderful memory and these hikes are unforgettable. Come ready for a couple of hours out in the great Hawaii outdoors. 

After enjoying these easy Maui hikes, check out our recommendations page for more Maui things to do.

Jordan Fromholz

Jordan Fromholz

Author

I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I have a thing for photographing pineapples and learning to surf.

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