Explore the Natural Wonders of Waianapanapa State Park

December 3, 2015

Many people travel the Road to Hana in Maui for its amazing sites and scenic beauty. One of the can’t miss stops along the Road to Hana is Waianapanapa State Park.

The 122-acre Maui State Park is home to a black sand beach, plenty of natural features like anchialine pools, blow holes and sea stacks. Plus, there are outstanding panoramic views available at Waianapanapa State Park.

Waianapanapa State Park


The name Waianapanapa means “glistening fresh water” in the Hawaiian language. The name refers not only to the fresh water streams and pools located at the park but also the glistening ocean waters that contrast starkly with the black sand beach. Many people stop to see the signature black sand beach but fail to explore the rest of the natural features of the State Park. A combination of landscapes create stunning sights, so be sure to make time to see all Waianapanapa State Park offers.


Waianapanapa State Park's natural features include:

  • Anchialine Pools:  Anchialine Pools are pools of fresh water, located some distance inland, that are formed due to erosion of volcanic rock.  The waters here are crystal clear, clean, cold and spring fed.  Anchialine Pool caves (see below) are a highlight of these natural formations.
  • Native Hala:  These funky trees can be seen throughout the Waianapanapa State Park.  With roots sticking up well above the ground, many people refer to Hala as “walking trees” as they look like they could literally walk out of the ground.  Hala trees were important to early Hawaiians as they were used to make everything
    from mats to posts and pipes. 
  • Lava Tubes/Caves:  These can be found throughout the park.  One of the main caves can be found to the right of the beach. It is large enough to walk through (and stand up) during low tide.  Holes in the rock formation allow light and the other end of the cave opens to the ocean.  Other caves can be found in the Anchialine Pools.  If you dive in (and bring a flashlight) you can swim through various caves.  The largest cave is located at the main Anchialine Pool.  Following the marked trail counter-clockwise, you’ll walk stone steps through a cutout of hau trees.  Pass the first cave you see, continue up some stone steps and then you’ll come to a short trail to the left leading to the main Anchialine Pool.  Jump from the highest available platform and keep right to access the main cave.
  • Natural Arch:  You can spot this scenic sight standing near the blowhole.  Look towards the west and you’ll see the natural stone arch at the tip of the bay.  Sometimes you can see waves crashing behind it. 
  • Sea Stacks:  These pillars of rocks originate from the ocean floor and dot the coastline of the park.  Covered with a variety of green plants, you can spot seabirds resting on them as well as sea turtles using them as a shelter.
  • Blowhole:  You’ll find the blowhole along the rugged coastline of the park.  Walk along the cliffs of the park, on the left hand side of the beach, to see water spout ten to twenty feet in the air.  You’ll also get great views of the coast, as well as the white, cresting waves hitting the jagged cliffs. 
  • Black Sand Beach:  The famous "black sand" beaches of Hawaii, such as the one located here, were created virtually instantaneously by the violent interaction between hot lava and sea water.  Visiting a black sand beach highlights the volcanic nature of the islands.  Sands here are still being formed, with some “sand” resembling a pebble state.

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