Yesterday was a long, colorful string of adventures from start to finish…the very best sort of day. The project I was shooting was at a resort in Makena (South Maui), so after finishing up I decided to head on down to La Perouse Bay to explore the trail through the Lava Fields.
Beyond the parking lot, the trail disappears into an otherworldly, magical forest of butterflies and silk worms, stretches of rugged lava, ancient Hawaiian ruins, beaches with sand of a huge assortment of colors and textures, blowholes shooting eruptions of salty ocean spray through breaks in the lava, and a cacophony of colors and scents. I think I might have liked to stay here forever… But as always, there were other adventures waiting to be had.
The road to La Perouse Bay gets narrower and curvier the closer you get, winding past Big Beach, the Makena mansions, epic snorkeling areas, and then, finally, the seemingly endless lava fields and their misfit band of wild goats.
Named for the French explorer who mapped the area in 1786, La Perouse is the site of the island’s most recent volcanic activity… which, in case you’re curious, wasn’t all that recent. Haleakala’s last eruption is guesstimated to have been sometime in 1790, and the lava flows that came from that eruption are what have created the ruggedly dramatic landscape of lava fields along this southern stretch of Maui.
Just a short way up the path is a blowhole in the shape of a figure-eight that periodically shoots water high into the air… don’t get too close!
Tiny yellow butterflies have made this intriguing mix of forest and lava their home, adding little splashes of color to the landscape as they flutter along with the breeze.
Most of the ruins along here are the remains of ancient Hawaiian fishing villages. While nature has taken over what used to be thriving communities, remains of rock walls and structures can still be seen in many places along the trail.
Although these maui lava fields are described by some as “desolate,” they are obviously anything but! La Perouse Bay is the southernmost part of the island accessible by car on this side of the island, and it ushers visitors into a rugged, dramatic coastline that is heavy with history and whispers of an Old Hawaii that is known only through legend.
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