Maui: Kahakuloa Head (Pu’u Koa’e)

I’ve been wanting to explore Kahakuloa Head after seeing it from a distance on the Ohai Trail. We left Wailuku at 8:00 am and made our way to Kahekili Highway (Route 340) – which isn’t really a “highway”. People might call it West Maui’s “Hana Highway”, but I think this road is more like the “Back Side of Haleakala”.

Since it was the first weekend of the year, I was eager to go somewhere new! So we planned a day trip driving down Kahekili Highway from Wailuku to Lahaina with my little sister, May, and our friend Jon and his mom.

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I was gawking at Kahakuloa Head pointing and telling everyone in the car to “Look!”. Kahakuloa Head (Pu’u Koa’e) is approximately 636 feet high and was believed to be King Kahekili’s favorite cliff diving spot. King Kahekili was the king on Maui in the mid-1700’s. Apparently, he would climb up the hill and leap into the ocean below – which is why this hill is also known as “Kahekili’s Leap”. The smaller hill, Pu’u Kahuli’anapa, is just under 550 feet and located right next to Kahakuloa Head.

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We arrived at a small gravel parking lot and found an opening along the wooden fence. Kahakuloa Head looked massive up close. Just beyond the fence was a distinct trail between the hills which led us toward the ocean.

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We explored the base of the two hills admiring the blue ocean and interesting rocks as the sun peaked behind Pu’u Kahuli’anapa. It was nice and breezy that morning. We saw and heard goats from the top of Kahakuloa Head. Jon was learning and testing out his fancy DLSR camera with Toni while us girls were taking a zillion photos.

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When we finally decided to try to hike/climb up Kahakuloa Head, May and I searched for a path on the grassier side of the hill and headed toward the parking lot. We could see various patchy trails – but we couldn’t find a distinct path. We walked through the tall grass and brush until we saw a path – although, we still weren’t confident about it. The rocky hill ahead looked really steep.

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Eventually we made it far enough to start our first climb. I wanted to climb high enough so I could get a good view of Kahekili Highway. After getting high enough, we saw Toni and Jon heading toward the parking lot and waved them down.

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The view was amazing! We could see Kahekili Highway, Pu’u Kahuli’anapa hill and the ocean from where we were. We didn’t climb further up since we realized how difficult it would be to go back down! However, we had a pretty nice view at our location.

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After Kahakuloa Head, we continued our journey on Kahekili Highway and drove through Kahakuloa village. We stopped by Juliana’s Treehouse to buy their world famous banana bread! Before leaving, I took a few photos of the village from the road above and the old missionary founded church. Until next time Kahakuloa!

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