Learn about Wai’anapanapa State Park in Maui

Wai’anapanapa State Park

Wai’anapanapa State Park is a 122-acre state park in Hana, Maui, Hawaii. It is located at mile marker 32 on the Hana Highway, 53 miles east of Kahului, Maui. Wai’anapanapa State Park is one of the best Road to Hana destinations.

In Hawaiian, Waianapanapa means “glistening fresh water,” referring to nearby fresh water streams and dazzling pools. It provides breathtaking almost 360-degree sweeping panoramic views. You’ll get the opportunity to enjoy a black sand beach alongside the ocean because Maui is home to one of the volcanic-sand beaches. 

The park’s tide pools turn red several times a year. Scientists believe it is due to the arrival of small shrimp, but local legend claims it is the blood of Popoaleae, a mythical princess who was killed in a near the area by her husband, Chief Ka’akea.

This state park on Maui, Hawaii, is known for its black volcanic sand beach, and there’s also freshwater caves, water tubes, anchialine pools, and a natural stone arch.  You can see an incredible seabird colony or watch the park’s tide pools turn reddish with the arrival of thousands of tiny shrimps.

Places to see in Wai’anapanapa State Park


  • The Lava tube – This area provides excellent photographic opportunity, particularly around sunrise. Photographers will enjoy taking pictures here. 
  • Pailoa – When heated lava is quickly cooled by the water, a remarkable thing happens: the basaltic rock shatters, producing black sand. This is the reason behind the black sand beaches. 
  • Hala forest – The beauty of Waianapanapa State Park is enhanced by the vast quantities of coconut, breadfruit, and guava trees, as well as the state’s largest wild hala grove, which provide shade on hotter days and are usually followed by bird calls from the tiny island sat right offshore.
  • The King’s Highway – This ancient road was built during the 15th century under Chief Pillani. It stands out with its flat, smooth river stones lined about a step apart, contrasting with the sharp, natural lava rocks that occupy the area. 
  • Waianapanapa Coastal Trail – After seeing the black sand beach and the lava tube, you can continue your walk across the black sand beach to the other side of the beach. Hiking along the coast will allow you to witness sea arches, unusual lava rock formations, and possibly even a blowhole.
  • Waianapanapa State Park cabin -Waianapanapa State Park cabins are now open, and reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance. If you decide to have an overnight stay, it will be the perfect place to be. 

How to get there

If you are living in Hana and want to bike to the park, you may rent one and be there in roughly 30 minutes. Stop at mile marker 32 if you’re driving the Road to Hana. A gravel path leading down to Wai’anapanapa State Park should be visible on the makai side of the roadway. A road sign will direct you to the area.

Tourists can rent a car to explore the natural environment of this Maui park, so if you prefer to travel comfortably, rent a car with AC or take a tour instead. A cab will transport you to the park in 10 minutes from Hana for only $15 one way. 

Entrance Fees 

To enter the popular Wainapana State Park on Maui, all visitors and commercial operators must make reservations. It is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Hawaii Residents are free of charge with Driver’s License or ID while non-residents must pay $5.00 per person. Children 3 and Under are free of charge.

They also have time slots available for your visit. You can choose any of your preferred time here: 7:00AM – 10:00AM, 10:00AM – 12:30PM, 12:30PM – 3:00PM, and 3:00PM – 6:00PM. It is best to go early in the morning to experience less crowded conditions.  Be sure to check the official web site for the latest updates. 

Things to do in Wai’anapanapa State Park 

  • Cliff jumping – Safety should always come first. Cliff jumping at the black sand beach should be done when the weather is nice and the ocean is clear so that the bottom close to the cliffs can be seen.
  • Camp – If you want to have an overnight stay at the park, you can bring your tents and set it up there. Residents pay $20 per night, while non-residents pay $30 per night.
  • Walk – Walking through the nice black sand beaches is a must. You got to see up close and personal the nice black sand and pebbles.  
  • Hiking – Wainapanapa State Park provides visitors with great hiking opportunities that pass through Pa’iloa Bay black sand beach, lava formations and caves, and much more. It’s a great way to stretch. 
  • Swimming – When the swimming conditions are safe, enjoy swimming in Honokalani’s pristine water. There are no lifeguards on duty, so be careful enough because the waves can be harsh.
  • Bird-watching – Tourists will enjoy watching the birds especially bird enthusiasts. 
  • Blowhole – Explore the blowhole to the east of the neighboring islet. 

Wrapping it up

Waianapanapa State Park contains much more than Maui’s famous black sand beach. Waianapanapa is a culturally significant location for the Hawaiian people. Please be respectful during your visit. You should also value their culture as much as you value yours. It’s a give and take relationship for the locals and you as a tourist. 

Pay close attention to different signages that you may see around the area. Obey this and be extra careful. You should know that you are visiting places that you have never been before so it’s a must to follow the rules and regulations. 

By these, you will get to enjoy and immerse yourself with the Hawaiian culture. You will surely have a memorable experience here that you’ll bring for the rest of your life. You also got a chance to share it to the whole world! Just don’t forget to take lots of photos for your memory to be kept for a lifetime.