Cool-looking lava rocks aren’t hard to come by on Maui, but certainly among the more distinctive are the pale, jagged spires of Makaluapuna Point in West Maui. These spires, the so-called “Dragon’s Teeth,” are spectacular to see up close, so long as you show respect to the surging ocean nearby—and to the sacredness of this area to Native Hawaiians.
Makaluapuna—or “Spring Hole”—Point is a skinny peninsula separating Oneloa and Honokahua bays near Kapahua. Here, lava flows of the West Maui Volcano, part of the Honolua Volcanics, reached the ocean from a vent six or more miles inland. Light, fine-grained, and highly fluid, these flows were pummeled by breaking waves and coastal winds. They hardened in upturned, near-vertical orientation.
Continued erosion and weathering have sculpted these lava rocks into toothy prongs and spikes, bleached white by relentless salt spray. These lava-rock formations do indeed rather resemble the lower jaw of a fierce dragon.
The Dragon’s Teeth can be reached off Highway 30 via Lower Honoapiilani and Office roads. A parking lot near the junction of these roads serves as the access point. There aren’t any restrooms or other services here. The walk is just a few minutes, and easy. But wear sturdy shoes, not flip-flops, as you’ll end up on rough volcanic rock that may be slippery from wave wash and spray.
A walkway leads north to reach Makaluapuna Point. It’s very important to stay on the path here. It skirts a golf course on the west, for one thing. More significantly, a major ancient Hawaiian burial site edges the path, marked by a hedge.
This grassy area, the Honokahua Burial Site (named for the traditional name for this region), contains perhaps 2,000 or so graves and is deeply sacred. It was also at the center of a major controversy when construction began on a hotel on the site, resulting in the initial removal of some of the human remains. A drawn-out conflict ended up with the burial site’s protection and the relocation of the hotel project. Signs explain the sacredness of the Honokahua Burial Site and call for visitors to respect its boundaries. Without question, you should do just that—and generally show some reverence for this Native Hawaiian geography.
Where the path leaves the boundary of the golf course, you’ll find yourself at the Dragon’s Teeth. The upswept rock-fangs are unmistakable. Look for stones embedded in the petrified flow and some see-through holes formed by erosion.
Exercise caution here at Makaluapuna Point. You want to keep an eye on the ocean at all times, as large waves can break here and catch visitors by surprise. Watch your footing on the rocks.
Peering into the coastal waters, you might just spot a honu—a green sea turtle—drifting along. In winter. Makaluapuna Point also makes a strategic vantage for seeing humpback whales blowing, lolling, and cavorting offshore.
It’s hard to beat the Dragon’s Teeth at sunset, by the way. Actually, the spires also look pretty remarkable in the warm light of early morning as well.
Easily combined with a visit to nearby D.T. Fleming Beach Park, the Dragon’s Teeth at Makaluapuna Point stand as one of the truly memorable expressions of Maui’s fiery geology.
It’s easy to incorporate the Dragon’s Teeth into a longer hike along the Kapalua Coastal Trail, which runs south from D.T. Fleming Beach to Kapalua Beach.