The Lava Fields at La Perouse Bay are one of the most interesting natural sites on Maui. This picturesque bay is known for volcanic history, lava formations and oceanfront scenery. Visit this southern part of the island for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Maui.
La Perouse Bay quick facts:
Directions: La Perouse Bay is located south of the town of Wailea, Hawaii at the end of Mākena Alanui Road (State Highway 31). It is located at mile marker 7 at the very end of Makena Alanui Road. A gravel parking lot marks the end of the road and the beginning of an off-the-beaten-path adventure exploring La Perouse Bay.
After the lava field you will come to a small parking lot. Turn right for a larger lot closer to the bay. This is a dirt and rock parking lot so wear your sneakers instead of your flip flops. To the right of the barrier is private property so stay to the left.
There are 2 portable toilets in the parking lot. There is no bathroom with running water. Bring hand sanitizer- the outhouses are pretty gross.
This is a protected resting spot for dolphins. You are not allowed to swim with the dolphins or go near them. There are often police in the area making sure everyone is following the rules.
La Perouse Bay is the southern most area accessible by car. The trip there takes you through a lava field where you will feel like you have arrived on a different planet. There is plenty to explore as trails lead you down the coast line through lava and to the shore. Lots of crushed lava and very little sand make up the rugged coastline.
History of La Perouse Bay
Scientists estimate that in 1790 Haleakala erupted to form the jagged lava rock coastline. Now there is a monument and ruins of the Hawaiian natives who made their home on the sharp lava rock.
The bay’s Hawaiian name is Keoneʻōʻio. It was later named for the French explorer Captain Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse.
Past the jagged, black lava flows of Ahihi Kinau Reserve. The reserve, which houses archaeological ruins, is also home to one of the best places to snorkel in Maui—Waiala Cove. Currently a one-mile section of beach on the northern end of Ahihi is open at Waiala Cove. If you’re planning to snorkel or scuba dive, check at the website to see if the beach is open as sharks are often spotted here. Their presence closes the waters to recreationalists.
This moderate South Maui hike travels along historic trails amid the harsh lava from one of the last eruptions on Maui in 1790. This Nā Ala Hele trail was improved to the eight-feet wide path you see today in 1824 by Governor Hoapili. Hundreds of years earlier, the path was the King’s Trail or Ala Loa built by King Piʻilani and his son that circled around much of the island. This hike travels to Kanaio Beach, but the trail actually continues for nearly ten miles. It’s also possible to do a shorter portion of the hike. Many people walk a short portion of the trail and turn back.
FAQ about La Perouse Bay
The last time lava flowed out of a volcano on Maui was in about 1790. It didn’t come from the crater at the top of Haleakala, but rather erupted in the southwest, part way up the side of that volcano. This left a path of rough lava rocks that you can see today.
Taking things from National Parks is against the law, so taking volcanic rocks from Hawaii’s volcanoes is illegal. But apart from being illegal, legend has it that taking volcanic rocks from Hawaii is bad luck. According to legend, anyone who removes black rocks from Hawaii will face a tremendous streak of bad luck.