Mahana Ridge trail view from the top

I was having a lot of varying types of fun and adventure on Maui but now it was time to put on my hiking boots. I was staying in the Kapalua area of Maui and rising up inland from the resort you see one of the lushest, greenest, untouched areas of Maui. Perfect for exploring on foot.

Starting at the bottom in Kapalua itself, by the beach, you take the Mahana Ridge trail. A trail that is very quiet and once you get away from the coast it is a wonderful escape from the busy tourist spots.

This 10 mile trail takes you up and up towards and through the trees via views over the ocean, over to neighbouring islands like Lanai and Molokai and pineapple plantations.

view of lanai and golf course from the Mahana Ridge trail

The starting point for the trail is way down on the beach. D.T. Fleming Beach at Kapalua. The ascent elevation is around 1600 feet and is a gradual and steady climb.

From the beach car park go back along the road just for a short distance and you will see the sign for the Mahana Ridge Trail and off you go.

It only takes a couple of miles before you are in the tropical treeline and colours gradually get stronger and stronger, the greens of the trees and the red/brown of the dirt path in real contrast.

path on the Mahana Ridge trail

I was there after what could be considered a dry period but the soil underfoot I could understand gets very muddy and slippery after a lot of rain. Something to consider.

Every now and then you reach a point that peeks out over the treeline. A spot to stop, take a breather and to take it all in. The views down to the coast and beyond.

Mahana Ridge trail view over to molokai

Back into the trees there are birds of all colours singing around you and butterflies seem to lead the way as in a fairytale.

This was getting into the real nature of Maui and I loved every step.

orange butterfly in maui

Reaching higher the path changes minute by minute. It could be making a way through grass that is twice as tall as you, or taking turns through pine trees.

tall grasses by the path - Mahana Ridge trail

Honestly it would take too long to explain all the variety. Each few hundred metres of walking is a micro wonder to itself.

After about 5 miles you start to work around the top of the ridge and get some amazing views down the gorges along the mountainside. Greenery, blue skies and ocean to look out over.

the trail levels out

At the top of the ridge and the path levels out it is then time to enter the Honolua Ridge and the Maunalei Arboretum.

This area is pure natural beauty and a good reason to do the full hike up here before turning back like many do.

It features wild and amazing trees and flowers from around the world along with plants, trees and shrubs that are very native to Hawaii.

Banyan Tree maui

Hidden in the middle for example is the huge and inticate Banyan tree. A sight to behold.

Guava hangs down above your head invitingly and bright red tropical birds swoop through the trees. You could spend hours and hours wandering through there and still want to see more.

unique tree on the trail

Keep a lookout for the wild boar and great colourful wasps, knowing they are around certainly adds to the sense of adventure for sure.

At the end of the trail it opens up before you and there you are, looking out to Molokai across the ocean or Honolua bay even.

Mahana Ridge trail tree view

At the top of the hike you reach the Honolua Ridge Trailhead. Once upon a time you was able to catch the shuttle bus back to the bottom but alas it does not run anymore.

But, the upside is you get to enjoy retracing the gorgeous steps you have taken to get here.

dry path

One thing to note. I walked up in the middle of the day and it was a dream. Towards the end of heading back down it was slowly getting toward dusk and realised the amount of spiders that had come out to play.

If doing this hike really early or later then you may need something to wave in front of you to clear the webs.

When back down at the bottom I realised I had not seen a single other person the whole way! Quite often you can get this paradise to yourself. Amazing.

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4 Comments

  1. Nice synopsis! I’ve done this hike a few times, and as you mentioned, it’s really interesting with the variety of terrain, plants, and views. It’s a unique way to experience Kapalua too 🙂

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Thanks… Yes I loved it. was so refreshing and the variety kept it so interesting 🙂

  2. Jeremy Branham says:

    I’ve been to Maui a couple of times but I’ve never been hiking there. I have hiked in Kauai and loved it. Some of the best photos I’ve ever taken were from hikes in Kauai. While many people go for the beaches, the scenery and beauty of the land shouldn’t be missed. Get out and explore!

  3. joe sylvester says:

    Aloha Paul,
    Thank you for the article on hiking in Hawaii. Anytime we can highlight a great activity that showcases our State is good for all of us in the travel industry. We invite you to come to Kauai next time and check out our hiking trails on the Garden Isle. Mahalo nui loa

    Of note were the photos of two invasive plant species that threaten all of Hawaii, Guinea grass and Guava. Both spread by birds and ungulates (guava more so). They crowd out native species and threaten agriculture at lower elevation levels.

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