Lisa Owen

Looking for an adrenaline kick while living the island life? Then head to Maui’s west coast.

Black Rock was formed by a lava flow and is located at the far northern end of Kaanapali Beach. Black Rock can only be accessed by swimming around the rock so it’s only suggested for strong swimmers. Snorkelling off Black Rock is a popular activity due to the clear blue water, there’s lots of fish to see near the rock and you might also see some turtles.

snorkelling in Maui


South of Black Rock is a beach with small waves that is perfect for beginner surfers.

My friend and I signed up for a surfing lesson with Quentin from 1800 Snorkel – but there are several other surf schools operating in the Kaanapali Beach region.

We were supplied us with reef shoes, a rashie and long board for the lesson.

First, we got instructions on land about where to position ourselves on the board, how to paddle and the best way to stand up. Then we were ready to try and catch some waves.

Quentin helped us every step of the way to get us past the breaking waves (which was hard work) and then set us up to wait for a good wave. When a good wave came along, he told us when to paddle and then we tried to stand.

I was pretty happy to catch a couple of waves and it was money well spent to give something new a try and gain a new appreciation for surfing.

Learning to surf in Maui


Kapalua Coastal Trail

From Kaanapali Beach, I headed 10 minutes north up the road to the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

The Coastal Trail starts near the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and you can park adjacent to the hotel grounds and walk five minutes to the start of the trail which is marked by a concrete path leading to the beach.

The coastal trail winds past beaches and panoramic views of the coastline and you’ll be sure to spot some whales breaching out on the ocean.

The trail is an easy 1.5km return but you’ll stop a lot on the way so anticipate about an hour return. The trail is a combination of wooden boardwalks and a well-marked dirt track with some rocky areas.

Kaanapali Beach coastal trail


Head out onto the rocky outcrop just after the boardwalk for closer views of the whales and there’s a nice little waterhole fed by the ocean to paddle in – but watch you don’t step on the sea urchins.

The trail takes you down to a swimming spot before reaching a dead end. There’s a small ladder there so you can easily get into the ocean or you can jump in for a swim before returning back the way you came.

Make sure you also check out the labyrinth near the Ritz-Carlton. Head down via the golf course and onto a rocky outcrop on the coast, keep going until you see the labyrinth which you’ll probably only notice when you’re right on top of it.

The labyrinth on the coastal trail

Activities and sights

If you’re heading past Kapalua, you might also want to see the Nakalele Blowhole located on the north west headland of Maui.

If you’re lucky to get a very sunny day, you should be able to see a rainbow when the blowhole spouts.

You can walk right near the blowhole – but don’t get too close or you might get sucked in.

The Nakalele Blowhole


Don’t miss the chocolate coconut crunch at the food stand near the blowhole – or there’s a number of other tasty homemade treats on offer.

While you’re on the west coast, take the time to watch the sunset. There’s a number of beach parks between Kapalua and Maalaea to watch the sun go down.

Things you should know:

  • The quickest way to get to the west coast if you’re coming from Kahului (Maui’s main town and close to the island’s main airport) is by heading south and then head along the coast. The northern way is windy and narrow so it takes a lot longer to drive.
  • It’s hot in Hawaii – even in winter. The Kapalua Coastal Trail is very exposed so bring a hat, sunscreen and some water.
  • You don’t need to go on a tour to find good snorkelling spots in Maui. There are several good spots on the island to go snorkelling including Black Rock and Honolua Bay. You might want to invest in a snorkel set or you can rent one.
  • The best way to see Maui is by car – you’ll see a lot more and get a little off the tourist path. Maui roads are mostly in good condition but can be narrow and windy in some places.

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors.

Instagram: @_thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia  

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.