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Historic Trails in Maui

When it comes to exercise in Hawaii, aside from the myriad of water sports and oceanic activities people can delve into, one of the most popular ways to enjoy the outdoors is to go hiking. Trekking through the deep Hawaiian rain forests or setting out to the highest lookouts to absorb expansive ocean vistas is one activity that tourists and residents alike simply cannot get enough of.  There is no mystery why, since hiking in Hawaii not only affords one of the best ways to explore the landscapes first hand, but also is a fantastic way to discover areas of great historical significance.

Maui is laden with rich history of the ancient kingdoms that once presided over the tropical paradise. With holy sites, burial grounds, petroglyphs and heiaus, visitors to this island can see the indelible mark Hawaiian royalty, missionaries and immigrants have made across the islands.

Trail view along Wai’anapanapa Beach Park in Maui

Trail view along Wai’anapanapa Beach Park.

King’s Highway: This historic footpath dates back to the 16th century. Created during the rule of Pi’ilani, this hand-laid stone trail that was one of the longest routes around the island of Maui. The path was made out of fitted basalt rocks and reached roughly 138 mile with a width of 4 to 6 feet wide in most areas. At the time of its development, the King’s Highway was the only path to circumnavigate an entire island in Hawaii.

The King’s Highway was the primary route for trade, commerce and most importantly was a key tool enabling a king to rule his kingdom. For 250 years this footpath was actively used until Kalani’opu’u, the King of the Big Island, gained control of the Hana region of Maui around 1759. During this time, the road fell into disrepair. Though much of the road has been paved over or eroded away, parts of it are still visible and accessible to hikers. The trail passes through ancient heiaus, gardens and dwelling sites.  Because of its rugged beauty of the area, some of the most compelling parts of the path lie alongside the Hana Highway. Some travelers say they can attest to the thick presence and energy left from the events that transpired centuries ago along this road.

Boat docked in Lahaina Harbor.

Lahaina Historic Trail:  In the town of Lahaina, Maui, there is a popular hiking tour where visitors can explore some of the most fascinating aspects of Hawaiian history. Adventurers can pass by the Old Lahaina Lighthouse, which was commissioned in the 1840’s by King Kamehameha III to serve as a guide for incoming whalers and merchant ships. The walk also includes the famous Banyan Tree Park on Front Street which lies near Lahaina Harbor and the historic Lahaina Courthouse.

Here you can also find the remains of a waterfront fort built in the 1830’s, the historic Pioneer Inn, once the only accommodations in this part of Maui until the mid-1950’s, the remains of the Brick Palace believed to be the first western style built in Maui during the early 1800’s and the Hauola Stone, a traditional healing stone used by ancient Hawaiians.

Though by appearance this place is as unremarkable as any other green lawn, the King’s Taro Patch or Kapukaiao is a significant place in Lahaina.  It is where King Kamehameha III is believed to have worked in to demonstrate to his subjects the dignity of laboring in the taro fields.

Travelers can also pass by other historic sites such as Baldwin House museum, Richard’s House, the first coral stone house built on Maui and the Master’s Reading Room, a place where sailing ship captains could meet.  Visitors to Lahaina can also explore Hale Piula, a simple iron-roofed second home built by Kamehameha III in the 1830’s.

Iao Valley historic trail in Maui

‘Iao Valley Historic Trail:  Those wishing to head into the verdant mountains of Maui can trek through the tropical foliage of the ‘Iao Valley.  Here they can stand beneath the ancient ‘Iao Needle itself. This valley is where King Kamehameha I conquered Maui in 1790 in the Battle of Kepaniwai as part of his plan to unify the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. This historic battleground offers scenic and peaceful journey along a 10-mile stretch through lush thick forests and mountain streams.


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