The entire Wai’anapanapa Coastal trail runs 2.1 miles along the jaw-dropping, rugged coastline that characterizes this slice of Mother Nature’s best work. Most visitors to this area will swing in to the overlook above the black sand beach, Pa’iloa Beach, snap a few quick pictures, and head out, leaving the fabulous sights, experiences, and run-ins with history for you to claim for yourself.
The loveliest of sights can be found along a short, kid-friendly 0.6-mile jaunt to Pukaulua Point. Along the way you’ll see an incredible variety of natural wonders—there are so many photo opportunities and nooks to explore, you’ll want to ration much more time than you think you need.
Once the paved walkway ends just beyond the Wai’anapanapa State Park Campground, you’ll find the first natural marvel: a massive blowhole just off the trail in the rocky lava outcropping. Here, churning underground current is trapped inside a large chamber, and when it undulates and converges just right, the water will be forced up and out, careening high into the sky. Need we stress to not get too close?
While many may be tempted to post up here, we’d encourage you to keep going; more blowholes, arches, and collapsed lava tubes are just beyond as well as hidden coves with black sand beaches and incredible anchialine caves. These pools are landlocked bodies of water that are connected to the ocean by underground lava tubes. Typically, the surface of these pools is comprised of fresh water, remaining buoyant on top of the salt water underneath. Here in the park, they’re home to ‘opae’ula, a native shrimp. They’re fairly rare and hard to spot because they reproduce in the subterranean part of the pools.
Finally, arriving to Pukaulua Point, you’ll get to explore the site of a heiau, a sacred Hawaiian temple site and burial mounds, effectively wrapping up a day full of complete and glorious sensory overload.