Haleakala National Park At Kipahulu
Explore the paradise and spirituality of Kipahulu
Haleakala National Park’s Kipahulu District, one of Maui’s most well known natural wonders, encompasses an area spanning from Haleakala’s eastern crater rim to the sea. Standing at over 10,000 feet above sea level Haleakala, in ancient times, sent torrents of lava down steep slopes to eventually create the rugged, raw and beautiful Kipahulu coastline – This amazing side of Maui is why Kipahulu is a top-attraction on Maui.
This part of the island is believed to have been one of the first areas of human habitation on Maui. The park itself spans more than 30,000 acres of land, stretching from the summit and down to the coast where you can see cascading waterfalls, tropical rainforests, pools, and lush green valleys in the area of Kipahulu. Kipahulu means “fetch from exhausted gardens”, in the Hawaiian language, and was once home to thousands of ancient Hawaiians. A one-time sugar town, Kipahulu was turned into a ranch-style village when the mill closed in 1923. During the 1900s, Kipahulu served as a port for an inter-island steamship company.
Kipahulu has played an important role in Hawaiian culture and was treasured for its fertile ‘aina (land) and kai (ocean). Native Hawaiians lived a sustainable lifestyle in the area, utilizing the resources of the ahupua’a (traditional Hawaiian land division that runs from the mountains to the sea). The land contains cultural ruins as well as Kanekoela Heiau, the 3rd largest Hawaiian temple in the state, where many kahuna were trained. In 1995, a small group of Native Hawaiians came together to restore Kipahulu back to its roots and educate visitors about its early days.
Though it is located only about 10 miles from Hana town, it will take about 30 minutes to drive. This is a testament to how winding and slow going this road is. In ancient times the road to Hana was a trail system used to warn the villages of this coastline of incoming invaders who often arrived from the Big Island. In fact this part of Maui was ruled by the Big Island chief Kalaniopu’u, uncle to Kamehameha. When Captain Cook arrived in 1778, he was met offshore of Hana and the ruling chiefs, including Kalanopu’u and Kamehameha, came aboard. One of Cook’s crewmen noted that Kamehameha spent the night on the deck studying the weaponry (canons and swivel guns) that years later he would use to conquer and unite the entire island chain.
Hiking enthusiasts and adventure lovers will delight in spending the day with us on our popular Private Bamboo Trek. Here is where you will see East Maui, hike in a rainforest, see extraordinary waterfalls standing at 10 to 40 feet high with large clear pools beneath the falls.
The most scenic trail in Kipahulu is the Pipiwai Trail that takes you through an expansive bamboo forest and continues to the base of Waimoku Falls. The Kuloa Point Trail is a half-mile loop trail that begins at the Kipahulu Visitor Center to Kuloa Point at the mouth of ‘Ohe’o Gulch.The half-mile Kahakai Trail passes between Kuloa Point and the Kipahulu campground near Oheo Gulch.
There are some tours that drive through this area of the park but do not stop. Many guests do ask why road tours do not include a stop in the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park as standard. The main reason is costs. The park wants a really, really high admission fee for commercial vehicles to enter. We feel guests wonʻt get the value back out of the stop if that cost was passed onto you. There is already so much happening on a road to Hana tour day that you wonʻt miss this stop. The other big reason is that itʻs no longer a reliable swimming stop and going in the water is prohibited in most areas.
Our sightseeing tours that complete a circle island route will drive through this area and give you a short glimpse of the pools as we drive over the bridge and through the park.