Thursday, June 13, 2019

Travel back 200 years in an hour on Maui: Launiupoko Valley

Two hundred years ago, when the Hawaiian ali'i (royalty) ruled the Islands, Maui was prized for its northwest shore—where Kamehameha set up the capital (in Lahaina). Along this coast, a series of mountain valleys send streams into small bays–accented by a pearl necklace of white sand beaches. Maui is the Valley Isle.

Big surprise: Today this coast is packed with resorts and condos and a conga line of rental cars. But not so for Launiupoko Valley. This baby is close to pristine.

At the foot of the valley is Launiupoko Beach, a sweet picnic, surf, and snorkel park that is on the tourist radar. It doesn't normally get pounded by crowds since other choices are available north and south.

Access to the historic trail is via on-street parking in a beach-estates neighborhood, set on a hillside rising from the coast. Residents allow use of the trail, which crosses a swath of private property. Maui Trailblazer and other sources have parking directions. Please heed parking and trail signs out of respect for the homeowners.

After traversing an open slope with blue-water views,  the trail enters the snarling green. 

In places, the trail follows a rock irrigation ditch (from the sugar cane days) leading to a fountainhead of  water flowing from  a hand-hewn tunnel. Above this spot, the trail is best suited for wild pigs and adventure geeks. (Be careful not to get lost if you plow too far in.)

A reservoir rests where Launiupoko Stream fans out before making its descent to the ocean. Sit a spell where Hawaiians did for many centuries: Village ruins are preserved in the area around the reservoir.