Wednesday, June 11, 2014

La Perouse Bay: Get out-there on Maui

A few years ago, visitors would swarm over jagged piles of lava in the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve Area south of Wailea on Maui in order to get to a little snorkeling cove called the Aquarium: A prime example monkey-see, monkey-do tourism. Concerned over the ecological impacts, state officials have closed this area to give it a rest. Not to worry: There is still good snorkeling at "Dumps" and Ahihi Cove, which are in the reserve.

Visitors don't have to go far to get beyond the crowds, which gather a couple miles south of Makena State Park (Big Beach) on Maui's southwest coast. The bumpy road ends at La Perouse Bay, named for a French explorer whose ship passed this "dismal coast" in 1786. A sandy trail passes Beau Chien (Pretty Dog) Beach (above) and then joins the Kings Trail that keeps going .... and going. First built in the 1500s, and then fortified in the 1800s, this wide, rock inlaid route penetrates a wasteland of lava heaps. You'll find two little beaches off the trail along the way—Oasis and Kanaio beaches. Old village sites mark the beginning of the trail. You can keep on trekin' for 10 miles (though the route becomes rougher and overgrown in spots) to Manawanui, the next vehicular access on the south coast.

Maui Trailblazer has more details on page 29, and page 164 to 172.