Kuloa Point Trail is in the Haleakala National Park on Maui and is an easy hike. You’ll park at the Kipahulu Visitor Center, where you’ll find the trailhead along with restrooms and picnic tables. Since this is part of the National Park, you’ll need to pay a fee.
There are a variety of passes, but the most common are these that are valid for three days:
- Individual car: $30
- Motorcycle: $25
- Pedestrian/bike: $15
The Kuloa Point Trail is a .5 mile loop and goes in a counterclockwise direction from the Kipahulu Visitor Center. The loop has only 80 feet of elevation to climb, and the average gradient is 4% but can pitch up to 14%. It will take you about thirty minutes to complete the loop if you don’t stop. But trust us, this hike is one that you could stretch out into several hours. There is so much to see and explore that we suggest planning a picnic and drinking up all this area offers.
One of the first things you’ll encounter when you hit the Kuloa Point Trail is an archeological area showcasing ancient Hawaiian culture. Thatched houses, old walls, and other relics are available to explore and provide insight into Hawaiian life. As you journey onward, be on the lookout for the hall tree. This tree is noteworthy for having pineapple-shaped fruit. Once past the grove of hala trees, the surf will beckon. You will ascend a small hill where you’ll get a picture-perfect view of the crashing waves. The breeze is always refreshing, and this is a perfect place for those family selfies. As tempting as it will be to jump into the ocean for a swim, do not. The current is powerful, and sharks frequent the area.
While taking in the pounding surf, be sure to admire the Oheo Gulch. This area is where the freshwater Pipiwai Stream flows into the saltwater of the Pacific. As you retrace the stream’s descent down the rocky mountain, you’ll marvel at the waterfalls and shimmering pools of various sizes. Also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, you can explore them on the Pipiwai Trail in more detail. This 4-mile hike also starts near the Kipahulu Visitor Center and is not part of the Kuloa Point Trail.
Reports vary on whether hikers are allowed to swim in these pools. Some say the National Park strictly forbids it. Others claim that it all depends on the stream’s water flow that day and whether swimming is allowed. Even the National Park Service is vague and says, “swimming is not recommended.” Such concern is because rainfall on this side of Maui is frequent and unpredictable, and flash floods are common. And without being morbid, hikers have drowned in the pools when caught off guard by one of these surges. Nevertheless, we suggest bringing your swimsuit and towels but check in with the park ranger for up-to-date information.
Even if you aren’t allowed to swim, be sure to come ready to explore the rocky basin of the Pipiwai Stream. We recommend closed-toe water shoes with a good tread to safely traverse the large boulders and slippery rocks.
Kuloa Point Trail is popular with hikers and tourists, so we suggest hiking in the morning to avoid the rush. The Kipahulu area is open from 9 am-5 pm, but the inbound gate closes at 4:30 pm, so plan accordingly.