Sandy beach
No
Hike-in Required
No
Surfing
No
Snorkeling / SCUBA
No
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Stretching over three miles of coastline and occupying 1,238 oceanic acres, the ʻĀhihi-Kīna'u Natural Area Reserve was Maui’s first reserve of its kind and is the only one that protects both land and sea. Additionally, it’s the only reserve that encompasses a lava flow from its source to its terminus. ʻĀhihi-Kīna'u is a haven for coral, fish and a number of endangered species.

So, it comes as no surprise that all of these factors converge to make it it’s one of the most fabulous places on Maui to scuba dive or snorkel, though it’s a bit challenging to access thanks to a rugged coastline. While Cape Kinau may have a few grueling footpaths on it, the best access for most is from via Kanahena Beach, a rocky beach at the end of a short walk south from a parking area. Here you'll find a gently sloping approach and a mellow entry due to the protection of 'Ahihi Cove. The spot is ideal for young ones and those warming up to snorkeling, though you'll want to plan for the ubiquitous rocks with appropriate footwear. 

Originally established in 1973, the reserve is named after nearby Cape Kīnaʻu at the southern end of ʻĀhihi Bay. While its main focus is both to protect the myriad fish, plant and animal species that call it home, a secondary purpose is to preserve the young, rugged lava flows on Haleakalā’s southwest rift zone. In fact, the boundary lines were specifically drawn around this particular area of interest. One look, and you’ll understand just how new they are. The rough, raw nature of the rock makes it easy to imagine how the lava slowly crept over the landscape and seascape, engulfing everything in its path and slowly coming to rest as it fans out over the sea floor. 

The varied topography is indicative that it wasn’t simply one, but five recent flows that happened within the past 500 years. The smooth, billowy-looking pahoehoe lava, fed by the Kalua o Lapa cinder cone, is known to be the youngest. 

Because almost all of the land within the reserve is unvegetated lava flows, it is highly recommend that you plan to snorkel or hire a guide service to visit the area and experience its oceanic splendor. Amazingly, it’s the only reef on Maui that’s grown in the past decade, and it contains over 30 species of coral and 50 species of subtidal invertebrate. Endangered species roam about as well; the Hawaiian monk seal, hawksbill turtle and humpback whale are all known regulars.

Logistics + Planning

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Snorkeling and diving haven. Abundant marine life. Unique geology.

Cons

Pebbly beach.

Features

Tide pools
Wildlife
Tide pools

Location

Field Guide

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