Tucked in a tropical jungle on the outskirts of the little coastal town of Hana is this state park, a black-sand beach set in an emerald forest.
The Hana-Waianapanapa Coast Trail is an easy 6-mile hike that takes you back in time. Allow 4 hours to walk along this relatively flat trail, which parallels the sea, along lava cliffs and a forest of lauhala trees. The best time to take the hike is either early morning or late afternoon, when the light on the lava and surf makes for great photos. Midday is the worst time; not only is it hot (lava intensifies the heat), but there’s also no shade or potable water available.
There’s no formal trail head; join the route at any point along the Waianapanapa Campground and go in either direction. Along the trail, you’ll see remains of an ancient heiau (temple), stands of lauhala trees, caves, a blowhole, and a remarkable plant, naupaka, which flourishes along the beach. Upon close inspection, you’ll see that the naupaka have only half-blossoms; according to Hawaiian legend, a similar plant living in the mountains has the other half of the blossoms. One ancient explanation is that the two plants represent never-to-be-reunited lovers: The couple bickered so much that the gods, fed up with their incessant quarreling, banished one lover to the mountain and the other to the sea.
Hana: The Hike to Fagan’s Cross
This 3-mile hike to the cross erected in memory of Paul Fagan, the founder of Hana Ranch and the former Hotel Hana-Maui (now the Travaasa Hana), offers spectacular views of the Hana Coast, particularly at sunset. The uphill trail starts across Hana Highway from the Hotel Hana-Maui. Enter the pastures at your own risk; they’re often occupied by glaring bulls with sharp horns and cows with new calves. Watch your step as you ascend this steep hill on a jeep trail across open pastures to the cross and breathtaking views.