Open from sunrise to sunset, the path is served by a number of small, free parking lots, including at the two endpoints, Oneloa (Ironwoods) Beach access, and The Bay Villas beach access.
Edging its way along Honokahua, Oneloa, Namalu, and Kapalua bays, the Coastal Trail is mostly level. The tread varies from pavement and boardwalk to bare rock and sand. Hiking sandals or closed-toe shoes are best.
Shade is basically nonexistent on the path, so be sure to wear sun protection. A tight-fitting or strapped sun hat is most effective, given the stiff winds this West Maui seashore experiences.
You can happily walk the Coastal Trail from either end. Despite the modest mileage, we suggest setting aside several hours—even a half-day—for a round-trip walk. That way, you can spare unhurried time for detours, beach hangouts, and snorkeling. Scattered interpretive signage clues you into native wildlife and vegetation.
Highlights of the path include some impressive coastal landforms, among them the Dragon’s Teeth, reached by a spur out to Makaluapuna Point. These pale lava formations have been beautifully warped by coastal erosion, forming swept-back rock fangs. Rugged cliffs in general define much of the Kapalua-area coast here, providing stirring perches for gazing out over the Pailolo Channel and out to Molokai.
Such perches also serve as good vantages to look for sea turtles, dolphins, and—in winter and early spring—humpback whales.
Around Oneloa or Ironwoods Beach, meanwhile, admire rare coastal sand dunes anchored by such native plants as naupaka and akia. Stick to the trail to avoid trampling fragile ground cover.
You also should definitely heed signage steering you clear of the nesting burrows of the wedge-tailed shearwater (uau kani). The Kapalua Coastal Trail passes through what’s believed to be the largest breeding colonies of this seabird on Maui.
Another must-visit detour along the Coastal Trail is Hawea Point, which noses out into the ocean as a stubby peninsula between Oneloa and Namalu bays. There are some evocative tidepools on this headland, including some natural soaking tubs that can be enjoyed so long as the surf isn’t too rough. You’ll often see people cliff-jumping into Namalu Bay.
D.T. Fleming Beach, Oneloa Beach, and Kapalua Beach are all fine places to kick back and relax along your way. Bring along your swimsuit—and maybe some snorkeling gear—to take some mid-hike dips. (D.T. Fleming Beach Park is one of the few West Maui beaches to have a stationed lifeguard.) Finally, it’d be a shame not to highlight what a great sunset-watching opportunity the Kapalua Coastal Trail presents!
-Given the dearth of shade, the Kapalua Coastal Trail is generally most comfortable to walk in the early morning or the early evening.
-For a longer hike and farther-reaching views, you can link into the Kapalua Resort’s Mahana Ridge Trail from the Coastal Trail at D.T. Fleming Beach Park.