Maui is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, but as a popular tourist destination, many of its attractions can get very busy. If you’re planning to visit the famous Nakalele Blowhole, but want to escape the masses, there is a secret beach trail that leads to the Nakalele Blowhole which rarely gets crowded!
This hidden ocean trail passes other interesting attractions like colorful lava formations called Acid War Zone, jagged cliffs, a lighthouse, tide pools and ends at the blowhole.
If you have the time, I highly recommend taking this route! In our guide below we share all the details you need to know to hike the Acid War Zone to Nakalele Blowhole Trail in Maui.
Psst! If you’re looking for other great hikes to do in Maui, we also recommend checking out the:
Quick Trail Facts
Before we dive into the details, here are a few Acid War Zone Trail facts to give you an overall idea of the hike:
- Length: 1.3 miles out and back
- Elevation gain: 150 feet
- Trail difficulty: Easy
- Time needed: Around 2 hours
Location & Parking
The Nakalele Blowhole is located 16 miles from Lahaina which is a 30–40-minute drive. To get there you can take the Honoapiilani Highway-30 that later turns left and becomes Kahekili Highway-340.
There are two visitor lots where you can park your car:
- If you’re looking for a quick stop, the main visitor parking lot is located off Kahekili Hwy and from there it’s just a 0.2-mile walk down to the Nakalele Blowhole. This is where most visitors park so this area can get very busy.
- If you’re interested in hiking the Acid War Zone Trail, there is another parking lot before the main one, also off Kahekili Hwy. This hike is a bit longer but it passes a few noteworthy points of interest with incredible views of the ocean. This is the hike that we did during our visit and everyone in our group really enjoyed it!
The Acid War Zone Trail parking lot is small but we had no issues finding a spot in the afternoon. Very few people know of this trail so it doesn’t get busy.
Once you park you will see a large trail entrance that leads down to the ocean. This is the starting point of the Acid War Zone Trail.
Location: Acid War Zone Trail, Wailuku, HI 96793
Acid War Zone to Nakalele Blowhole is one of the shortest yet most rewarding trails in Northern Maui. It travels next to the ocean and offers incredible views of the rugged Maui coastline.
I recommend setting aside 2-3 hours to explore this trail and everything it has to offer. The hike is only 1.3 miles long round trip and relatively easy but we stopped around every corner and took our time to enjoy the scenery.
The main attraction along this trail is the Nakalele Blowhole which is a large opening in volcanic rock. As the ocean water flows into this crevice, the water first erupts and spouts in the air and then washes down into the hole.
Nakalele Blowhole is best seen during high tide when plenty of water passes through it. During low tide, there won’t be enough water to see a “good show” of the water shooting up in the air. We’ve seen a couple of incredible blowholes during our road trip along the Oregon Coast where the landscape is also made of volcanic rock.
Other interesting attractions that you will see along the Acid War Zone Trail are the Nakalele Lighthouse, ocean pools, and a second, smaller blowhole.
Know Before You Go
If you plan to visit the Nakalele Blowhole, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- There is no reception once you enter the rugged shores of Northern Maui. I recommend looking up the directions and downloading a hiking map like Maps.Me or AllTrails before you leave for the hike. This trail is not well marked and can be confusing at times so an offline map can help you navigate it better.
- Due to steep sections and rocky surfaces, you will need sturdy shoes to hike it. I forgot my hiking shoes at our rental and I was still able to complete the trail in my sandals – however, it was very difficult due to slippery rocks and jagged, uneven surfaces.
- The weather in Maui tends to be hot and sunny. Be sure to wear mineral sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, and bring plenty of water for your hike.
- It can be very windy along the coast. I don’t recommend wearing anything that can easily blow away in the wind. I brought a hat to help with the harsh sunlight but had to hold on to it for the entire hike.
- Getting close to the Nakalele blowhole and ocean cliffs in Maui can be very dangerous. Unfortunately, people have lost lives at this location by going too close to the blowhole and getting sucked into the ocean by unexpected waves. Please enjoy the Nakalele Blowhole from a safe distance. There are no warning signs at this location so it’s up to visitors to use caution.
- If you look to the ground and it looks wet, it might be time to take a step back. Wet ground usually means that the waves are reaching that area so it’s not the safest place to be.
- It’s free to visit Nakalele Blowhole which is a nice perk when most activities in Maui are quite expensive. But keep in mind that there are no amenities nearby. Be sure to use the restroom before you head out to this location and pack out all trash that you may have.
Hiking Acid War Zone To Nakalele Blowhole
Here is the detailed breakdown of the Acid War Zone – Nakalele Blowhole Trail for those wondering what the hike is like & a few of the “must-see” stops along it.
Stop 1 – Ocean Viewpoint
To start the trail simply park in the visitor parking lot and start heading down towards the water.
Right off the start, the first viewpoint will be just jaw-dropping looking out into the deep, blue ocean. The coastline here is made of black volcanic rock that looks especially contrasting with the waves crashing against the shore.
Stop 2 – Nakalele Point Lighthouse & Tide Pools
After the first viewpoint, follow the wide path that passes through a forest and leads around to the next viewpoint called the Nakalele Point Lighthouse.
The Nakalele Point Lighthouse doesn’t look like a traditional lighthouse but more like a tall white beam with an automatic black & white panel that flashes light. The significance of this lighthouse is that it marks the most northern point of West Maui!
The Nakalele Point offers more direct views of the Maui coastline and tide pools. I walked around trying to get a better look at these ocean pools and spotted a ladder that was placed to help visitors get down closer but the ladder didn’t seem too safe and felt wobbly when I grabbed it.
The weather was also very windy so I decided to play it safe and made my way back up to the lighthouse.
Stop 3 – Unnamed Blowhole
After The Nakalele Lighthouse head down towards the ocean along a rugged trail to see the shoreline up close. This trail is short but it’s steep and has a lot of rocks so it’s best if you have good hiking shoes with grip.
Once you make it down to the edge of the cliffs, you will be greeted with more stunning views of the water and black lava rocks mixed in with some green and red colors. The landscape looks so unique and surreal, like from another planet!
Here you can also see the first of the two blowholes. This unnamed blowhole shoots water very high up in the air as well, yet most people don’t know about it and miss it during their visit.
The best part was that there were very few visitors besides us and each blow created a mini rainbow after it. But this area did feel like a splash zone in a theme park and using my camera here was very tricky because as soon as I tried to take a photo, it would get completely covered in mist from the spouting water.
For those who love wildlife, keep an eye out on the ocean and you just might spot a few floating turtles. We saw turtles all throughout the West Maui coastline but it never gets old!
Stop 4 – Nakalele Blowhole
Keep going a bit further across the rocky shoreline and soon you will reach the main attraction – the Nakalele Blowhole. You will pass across a bare landscape that has been nicknamed Acid War Zone for the unique colors and shapes that can be found here.
To watch the spouting blowhole we found a really good spot higher in the cliffs and sat there while enjoying the exciting show nature was putting on for us.
We came at a high tide so the water was violently crashing against the shore and then shooting up in the air through the opening. It was such a spectacular experience that we all enjoyed witnessing!
We spotted a few people walking around down by the blowhole but this can be very risky and people have lost their lives in Maui after being unexpectedly washed away into the ocean. Always prioritize safety for yourself and those around you.
After taking a break we started making our way back to the car on the same trail that we took out. Overall it took us a couple of hours to complete the Acid War Zone To Nakalele Blowhole Trail in Maui.
Where To Stay
The two main hotel areas in Maui are called Lahaina and Kihei. During our 10 day Maui trip we stayed in different sections of the island so we got to know both of these areas.
If you plan to explore much of West Maui, I recommend staying in Lahaina. This is where most of the resorts and hotels are located and this area is just a 30-minute drive to the Nakalele Blowhole.
There are many hotels to choose from in Lahaina but we personally stayed in a relaxing oceanfront rental apartment called Kaleialoha Resort. With a direct view of the ocean, we watched sunsets from our balcony and woke up to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. Private rentals are also a lot more quiet and secluded than busy mega-hotels.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Here are a few other travel posts that you may like:
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- Guide To Hiking Waihe’e Ridge Trail In Maui, Hawaii
- 10 Unique Places To Visit In Mexico You Didn’t Know Existed
- 10 Incredible Things To Do In Peru That You Shouldn’t Miss
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