For our final day on Maui, we visited the parks along the western side of the island. We started in Iao Valley State Park. This park is nestled in the West Maui mountains and is just west of Wailuku. We had hoped for some real hiking, but the trails are actually very short (the web site says about .6 mile). The walk up the steps to the overlook of the “Needle” was well populated. We actually liked the trails down to the river and through the rain forest better. While we didn’t get the exercise we had hoped for, it was worth a quick stop. Street parking is free, parking in the lot costs a small fee.
Our next stop was to the Kealia Pond National Wildlife refuge. This is a former fish hatchery turned bird refuge. It may have been because it was post-Labor Day but we were the only ones there and the visitor center was closed. You can check out the Hawaiian Coot and the Hawaiian Stilt here. Both were listed as endangered on the kiosk.
Our final stop was our tour (and the day’s highlight) of the lava flow at la Perouse Bay, Hoapili Trail and Kanaio Beach. The bay is named for French admiral La Perouse who landed here (the first known European to do so) in 1736 and geologists believe that the lava flow is the product of the last eruption of Haleakala in 1790. Aside from the stunning beauty of black sand, lava rocks, deep blue and turquoise ocean the area is also a little creepy with burned out walls, trees and wild (or perhaps just roamers who are part of the bordering Ulupalakua Ranch – see our upcountry Maui post) goats roaming the area.
We ended this final day, as we did every other day, strolling along Sugar Beach. Sugar Beach is what attracted us to our AirBnb in Maalea in the first place. Reviewed on AirBnB as “Maui’s longest walking beach”, bookended by Maalea and Kihei and bordered by the Kealia Pond and the Pacific this little gem made for a wonderful end to each day.