Wai’anapanapa State Park

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We started our drive from Paia along the Hana Highway early in the morning so that we could start at the ‘end’ of the Road to Hana and work our way backwards. This meant that one of our first stops of the day was about three hours along the highway, at Wai’anapanapa State Park. We had heard that there was a magical black sand beach there, which is something we’d never seen, so we were keen to check it out.


There were a lot of temporary barriers and what looked like construction around the headland, but like most attractions in Maui, there was also plenty of evidence that the majority of people ignore the barriers and venture further. So naturally, we obliged, and headed down the track along the headland to see what we could find.



The track was short, well worn and easy to tackle bare foot. The black sand beach was small, secluded, and beautiful.

The stones were larger at the entrance to the beach and naturally decreased in size from large pebbles to fine sand as we got closer to the high water mark. The black sand on the shoreline was mesmerising, sparkling like glitter as the crystal clear water washed over it. 

We spent some time exploring before hitting the water, and found caves, a friendly dog, and an abundance of healing energy and good vibes in the lava stones.


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On our way back up the track from the beach, we noticed a small creature foraging in the cemetery. It was a mongoose (Herpestes javanicus)!

We were surprised, to say the least, so did a bit of research. Turns out they were introduced in 1883 to help with the rat problem – yet another failed attempt at population control that has been hugely detrimental to native species. In this case, birds such as shearwaters and the Nene. 

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On a lighter note regarding wildlife, we were stoked when we spotted a colony of Black Noddys on one of the sea stacks. These guys hold a special place in my heart due to their presence on Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef – a place where I have spent countless hours observing this family-oriented, gorgeous species. It was a lovely surprise!


As the morning pressed on, quite a few other tourists started arriving. We were (and are still) coming to terms with how many tourists there were on Maui! We did our best to shut them out and focus on our own experience, but it was pretty impossible and really did kill the vibe at times.

(Real Talk: In hindsight I can definitely attribute these feelings to the ‘type’ of tourists we encountered. The resort goers – predominantly from mainland america, loud, obnoxious, disrespectful to others around them etc. A stark contrast to the types of backpackers/tourists we were used to encountering e.g. through central america – nature loving, open-minded, respectful)

In saying that, we’d had a lovely morning at Wai’anapanapa State Park and were happy to continue on to the next adventure for the day.

If you’re on Maui and exploring the Road to Hana, we absolutely recommend stopping here. Just keep in mind that if you want more of a private experience you better get an early start!

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