I’ve been running in and around Napili and Kapalua, Maui every year on vacation for about 15 years, so it was a pleasant surprise to find the new Kapalua Coast Trail. The trail stretches 3.5 miles along the West Maui coastline, linking existing coastal recreational areas, including Kapalua Bay, Oneloa Bay, D.T. Fleming Beach Park, Mokule‘ia Bay, and Honolua Bay. It also includes two spur trails that allow trail users to detour off the main route to experience unique places such as Hawea Point and Namalu Bay, and an arboretum of Hawaiian plants.
There are three places to access the trail. On the south end, it begins at the entrance to Kapalua Bay from the parking lot of the Napili Kai Resort. You can also access the trail in the middle by parking in the public lot outside the Ironwoods tract in Kapalua. On the north end, you can park in the public lot and DT Flemming Beach, but I don’t recommend it. There isn’t as much to see on the north end and you’re basically winding through the back of the Ritz Carlton resort.
Part of this trail is preserved for the Wedge tailed Shearwater, or “Ua’u kani,” a protected seabird. Seabirds have lost most of their nesting grounds in the main islands and were once hunted for their feathers and eggs. If you have ever noticed there are few seabirds in Hawaii, it’s because most are ground nesters and therefore prey for cats, dogs, rats, mongooses, and people. The Ua’u kani mate for life and return to the same area each year to raise their young. I was lucky enough to see a whole clutch of these birds nesting along the lava trails.
My favorite run starts in Napili on the Lower Honoapiilani Rd. Heading north, turn left into the Napili Kai Resort parking lot and catch the Kapalua Coastal Trail at the other end of the parking lot. Enjoy the beautiful stretch of trail through Kapalua resort, across the boardwalk, then follow the trail up to the Ironwoods tract. From there, I follow the main road up the hill past the Ritz to Hwy. 30. Turn right on Hwy. 30 and enjoy a long downhill view of Lanai in the distance. At the bottom of the hill, turn right past Napili Market back to the Lower Honoapiilani Rd. This loop is about four miles. You’ll be lucky to find anything better anywhere in the world.