Waianapanapa State Park
- Type: Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation
- Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
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In Hawaiian, "Waianapanapa" means "glistening waters." But it's not the ocean that draws travelers to Waianapanapa State Park — it's the jet-black sands. The shoreline here is composed of volcanic sediment, which acts as a stark contrast to bright blue waves and the verdant jungle.
Most visitors make a quick stop at Waianapanapa to snap a photo before continuing along the Road to Hana, but there's more to see here than just the beach. Those who hike along the park's primary trail (which traces the coast past the black-sand beach) will discover Waianapanapa's freshwater caves. According to Hawaiian lore, these caves were the site of the grisly murder of Popo'alaea who, along with her attendant, was murdered by her cruel husband, Chief Ka'akea; today, visitors can enter the caves and even swim in the pools. Those who prefer to stay dry can visit the wealth of ancient sites that line the coastal hiking trail, including pictographs and burial grounds. "All I can say is take your time here," one TripAdvisor user advised. "There is so much to see and explore and you don't want to miss a thing!"
Waianapanapa State Park sits just more than 3 miles north of Hana in East Maui. The park is open to visitors every day, and there is no admission fee. Facilities are fairly limited, though camping and lodging options are available. For more information, visit the Hawaii State Parks website.