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Posted on Sep 8, 2013 | 14 comments

Lava Fields of Maui

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.

Lava Fields of Maui

The Lava Fields of Maui are a site not to be missed.

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.

Lava Fields of Maui

Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve.

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.

Lava Fields of Maui

AfterGlobe about to go snorkeling at Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve.

Be Prepared

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.

Lava Fields of Maui

There are many fossils at Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve.

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.

Lava Fields of Maui

Just the drive to and from the Lava Fields of Maui is worth it!

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.

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About Kimmy Hayes


Kimmy Hayes is the founder and editor-in-chief of AfterGlobe; a site on becoming debt free and traveling the world as a married couple. In 2012, she planned and coordinated her own do-it-yourself destination wedding on the beautiful island of Maui while serving as a moderator for the on-line community, The Knot. She is passionate about traveling to experience new cultures, snorkeling the waters of the world and reading with her toes in the sand.

14 Comments

  1. Ohhh this is one of my favourite drives.. although it is slightly terrifying when traffic is coming toward you, haha. I had no idea that there was good snorkelling there though, I’ll have to head back :D

    • It is good snorkeling, took us a couple passes to find it. Seattle Dredge, We will be in Seattle this weekend for a wedding!

    • Mahalo, JR. Coming from a Hawaiian and a local, that means a lot to me.

  2. This looks like so much fun–I would love to visit the lava fields in Maui. Snorkeling there sounds like fun too. We only made it to Oahu, Maui is the next island we want to visit!
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