ʻĀpua Point is 6.6 miles from the Puna Coast trailhead at Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs along the south-facing shore of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
The trailhead is about 140 ft above sea level and the trail gradually makes its way down to the ocean, mostly over smooth pāhoehoe flows. Once you reach the sea you will pass an old goat corral/trap. The stone walls there may be your only chance for shade. From the corral you have to hike about two miles to ʻĀpua Point. These last two miles will take you along the coast over more pāhoehoe flows, a couple hundred yards of aʻā flows, and through sandy dunes overgrown with naupaka. ʻĀpua has a small stand of coconut trees under which you may pitch a tent. Some of the tent sites have stone walls to shelter you from the wind.
There is NO DRINKING WATER at ʻĀpua. You have to carry in whatever water you will need (at least 4 quarts/liters per person per day). The closest water catchment tank is at Keauhou, 3.1 miles down the coast.
The ocean at ʻĀpua has strong rip tides. There are some shallow areas where you can lay in the water to cool off, or you can swim in the cove at high tide. Be warned that swimming in the ocean here may be a deadly activity.
The campsite may be accessed from two trailheads (accessed via Chain of Craters Road).
Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs via the Puna Coast Trail - 6.6 miles, 10.6 km or
Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu via the Keauhou Trail and the Puna Coast Trail - 10.7 miles, 17.2 km.
For backcountry camping, there is a non-refundable $10.00 fee per trip (effective November 1, 2016), in addition to the park entrance fee. The fee is good for up to 12 people and 7 nights per permit. Failure to obtain a backcountry permit is a violation of 36 CFR 2.10(b)(8). Violators may be subject to fines up to $1000 and/or 6 months in jail. All eight backcountry campsites (Ka‘aha, Halapē, Keauhou, ‘Āpua Point, Nāpau, Pepeiao Cabin, Red Hill Cabin and Mauna Loa Cabin) require a permit, with a stay limit of three consecutive nights at one site. Campers can move to another backcountry site for the fourth night, but no more than 7 consecutive nights per permit. Stays longer than 7 nights require purchasing an additional $10.00 permit. Sites may be reserved up to a week in advance and are reserved upon receipt of permit fees. Fees for backcountry camping can be paid in person at the Backcountry Office by credit card, personal check, cash (exact change please), or online through pay.gov up to a week in advance of your departure. Physical permits must be picked up no more than 24 hours in advance from the Backcountry Office, open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Payments made through pay.gov require obtaining a permit number in advance by calling or emailing the Backcountry Office. You will enter this number into the pay.gov online form.
Permit requests to hike Mauna Loa from the Weather Observatory Trail may be done by phone.
Permits for campers using watercraft to access coastal camping areas may be done over the phone.
Off-site (dispersed) camping is allowed in the backcountry. Hikers must be at least 1 mile from a road or improved camp area and "out of sight and sound" of the trail. "Cat holing" is not allowed to dispose of human waste.
Campers may stay a maximum of 3 consecutive nights per site. A total of 16 hikers are allowed per night at ʻApua. Backpackers to ʻApua should be adequately equipped, experienced in wilderness trekking, and physically fit.
Pack the Essentials for a Safe and Comfortable Trip:
ESSENTIAL BACKPACKING EQUIPMENT:
first aid kit
emergency food supply cookstove, fuel, utensils (Open fires and smoking are prohibited)
flash light & extra batteries
biodegradable soap, toilet paper
signaling device (mirror, etc.)
minimum 3 to 4 quarts/liters water per person/day
broken in sturdy boots, moleskin
sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
rain pants and jacket
Intense sunlight, wind, and high temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion or stroke. Do not hike coastal trails during the heat of the day (10am to 2pm). Hot, dry winds blowing over non-native grasses can sap your energy and dehydrate hikers quickly. Pace yourself, drink fluids, eat snacks, and avoid hiking during the hottest times of day (usually mid-day 10 am to 2pm - but, it is blazing from the time the sun rises).
Cold wind and driving rain are possible any time of year and may cause low body temperature (hypothermia).
Prepare Ahead for Extreme Weather
Wear sun protection - sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat. Take layers of clothing to regulate body temperature. Plan ahead - hydrate the day before your trek and drink fluids continually along the trail.
During the day, temperatures can soar into the high 90s or higher. There are NO trees to provide relief from the sun. Carry and drink a minimum of 4 quarts of water per person (per day). The elderly, infants, and those taking antihistamines and certain types of medication for high blood pressure or depression are especially at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The Heat Equation: High Temperature + High Humidity + Physical Work = Heat Illness or Death.
Services are limited at trailheads. Water and public transportation are NOT available. 911 phones (for emergency use only) are located at Pu'uloa and Ka'u Desert trailheads. There is also a 911 phone at Kulanaokuaiki Campground off Hilina Pali Road.
Hilina Pali Overlook (Hilina Pali Trail) located at the end of Hilina Pali Road (2,280' elevation).
Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu (Keauhou Trail) located on Chain of Craters Road (2,680' elevation).
Pu`u Loa (Puna Coast Trail) located near sea level on Chain of Craters Road.
Ka'aha, Halape, and Keauhou have three-walled primitive shelters where hikers may enjoy a respite from the sun. Water caught off the roofs of these shelters are stored in adjacent catchment tanks (check with rangers when you obtain your permit for current water levels -- water is NOT always available and there are no streams in the area). TREAT water obtained from catchment tanks before drinking. Please use the composting toilet. Do not put trash in the toilet - pack all trash out.
Trails may be steep and rocky. Watch your footing along the hot and windy trails. Maximum elevation change between trailhead and campsite is 3,000 feet (1000m). Stay on the trail! Do not cut across switchbacks as this accelerates erosion. Trails are marked by stone cairns (ahu) that may be difficult to see in the rain and mist, and impossible to find in the dark. Trails are rocky and uneven, and may be overgrown with thick vegetation. There are no trees or shelter from the sun along the various trails to Halape.
Seismic and Volcanic Hazards
An earthquake can cause a locally-generated tsunami (seismic sea wave) at the coast. If you feel a strong earthquake, move to high ground immediately. Earthquakes can also produce large rock falls -- avoid potential rock fall areas. A volcanic eruption is possible at any time; stay upslope and upwind from active lava flows and their gasses. Volcanic gas (vog) can present breathing problems miles downwind from its source. Stay on the trail -- earth cracks, thin crusts, and lava tubes are numerous. See: Tsunami at Halape for information about the destructive 1975 earthquake and tsunami at Halape.
Thick grass and brush create a fire hazard in the coastal area. Do not smoke while hiking. Campfires, firearms, and fireworks are prohibited.
In the Ka'u Desert and coastal areas west of Ka'aha, there may be unexploded WWII ammunition. If you should see any, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Report the location to rangers.
Pesky and Dangerous Animals
Centipedes, scorpions, and black widow spiders are common in stone walls and rocky areas. Sharks are sometimes seen in coastal waters. Beware of sea urchins (wana), tubeworm casts, and sharp rocks when wading or swimming. Mongooses, mice, and feral cats thrive on unattended food supplies. Store food securely and keep a clean camp. To keep out insects, tents with fully zipable screens are recommended.
Protect Precious Plants, Animals, and Archeological Sites
It's a Good Idea and It's the Law
Turtles - Endangered Hawksbill sea turtles nest and threatened Green sea turtles rest on park beaches. Do not camp in areas posted as turtle nesting areas at `Apua, Halape, and other beaches. Federal and state laws protect all sea turtles from harm.
Archeology - Respect and help protect Hawaiian archeological sites. Do not climb on or alter any rock structures, such as walls, house platforms, pits, and mounds. Avoid walking on or making rubbings of petroglyphs.
Fishing - Fishing along the coastline from the park's eastern boundary to a point midway between Keauhou and Halape is restricted to native Hawaiian residents of the Kalapana area. It is your responsibility to understand and obey all fishing regulations.
Swimming - There are very few sheltered swimming sites along the coast. Rough seas, high surf and strong, unpredictable currents are typical of the park's coastline. Avoid entering the open ocean. Help protect the rare plants and animals that live in tidepools and brackish ponds - rinse off all soap and sunscreen before entering them.
Pets and Stock Use - Dogs (except service animals) and other pets are not allowed on park trails or in wilderness areas. Horses, donkeys, and mules are allowed in the backcountry with a valid backcountry permit (limit of 6 animals per site). Tether livestock at least 100 feet from campsites in an area that presents no hazard or sanitation problems to other campers. Hikers encountering horse parties should quietly step off the trail and allow the animals to pass.
Leave No Trace - Pack out everthing you pack in. Do not put rubbish in composting toilets. Keep wilderness areas beautiful and clean.
Post your trip journal on our webpage!
See our Journal webpage for examples and more information about Halape and other areas of the park. Email pictures and text to: Webmaster
Give us your feedback - Let us know about trail, cabin, or campsite conditions. Did you notice anything damaged or dangerous conditions that rangers should be aware of? File a Trip Report