Wai‘ānapanapa State Park East Maui
Just minutes north of Hāna town, Wai‘ānapanapa State Park is home to the jet-black sands of Pa‘iloa Beach. This rocky shore is a landscape of wonder, where craggy pinnacles rise from the sea, and noio (black noddies) circle above the formations.
Sunrise amplifies the magic, painting the cobalt waters turquoise and bathing the shoreline in a brilliant green light as the first rays touch the plants that line this lush stretch of coast. A small sea cave on the southern end of the beach reveals itself at low tide, when you can watch from inside as the water takes on an electric shade of blue.
In summer, the beach is the best place to observe the morning’s shifting palette, but in winter you’ll get a better view from the ancient King’s Trail. This coastal footpath was built in the seventeenth century, during the reign of Kiha-a-Pi‘ilani, who, I imagine, enjoyed the same show you can find here every morning.
DRIVE TIME FROM
West Maui, 2 hours 45 minutes | South Maui, 2 hours 20 minutes
TIP: To avoid having to wake up at 3 a.m. for the hours-long drive, consider staying in Hāna overnight. A bonus is the chance to explore the sights before the midday crowds arrive.