Lava Fields of Maui
At the very end of South Shore you will find the Lava Fields of Maui. This unique lava field was formed by two large volcanic eruptions that sent hot lava slowly oozing down each side of Haleakala and the West Maui mountains. The eruption took place over a million years ago as the island of Maui sat over the same hot spot that the Big Island does now.
Finding the Lava Fields of Maui
Keep driving past Makena, Big Beach, Little Beach, and even further. Keep driving when you think that you shouldn’t be driving anymore and you keep questioning if you should go back. Keep driving until you see the lava fields that clearly show the lava pathways down the west side of Haleakala. It is a stunning view to see!
The road will get smaller and break apart a bit when you come upon the lava fields of Maui. These lava fields are the result of Maui’s last volcanic eruption around 1790 from Haleakela. The ground appears to have parted to allow the road to pass through even though it was man who cut through the lava fields. You will feel transported back in time or to a moonscape and surround by the force that is Mother Nature.
Snorkeling at the Lava Fields
Right before starting down the road through the lava field, you will see a parking lot on your right. Stop in here on your way back for some of the best snorkeling on Maui at the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve. The coves are formed by black volcanic rock that slope into the water as it meets the colorful coral and abundant sea life, like the Hawaii state fish, Humuhumunukunkuapuaa.
For the best experience, visit the lava fields in the early morning before the wind picks up the waves and the heat rises off the black lava rocks. You will be walking through paths with jagged lava rock, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes. As beautiful as it is, don’t be tempted to take any of the Hawaiian lava rock home with you because it is believed that the Hawaiian gods will curse you with bad luck.
Bring your own food and drinks. There are no businesses to buy anything from in this area. Even though there are sometimes food trucks, such as Jawz, that make the trek out there or roadside food stands set up, you don’t want to take any chances. When we were out there the food trucks left before we had a chance to get anything to eat. At the very least, bring water with you.
Get out of there before dark. The park closes around sunset and legend has it that at dark Night Marchers, or restless Hawaiian spirits, roam La Pérouse Bay at night looking for mischief. Probably a good idea to get out of there not only for the Night Marchers, but also since there are no lights and no where to get help, if you should need it.
Getting to the Lava Fields
Head south, on South Kihei Road through the town of Kihei, heading toward Wailea. At the intersection at the Shops at Wailea, turn to drive south on Makena Road toward the luxury resorts and Big Beach (Makena). Continue on this road and drive slow around several narrow turns and blind spots in the road. Keep going. It will take you another 10-15 minutes from the Big Beach parking areas. However, it’s worth the effort and there are several small pull-over areas to take pictures.
There are very few places on this earth where you can see old lava field from a dormant volcano. Make sure while on Maui, not to miss out on this amazing opportunity. The drive to the end of South Shore will be worth the drive to see the lava fields of Maui!
Have you ever been to the Lava Fields of Maui?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.