Kealia Wildlife Refuge and Boardwalk

Whale breech landingOur 2nd full day on Maui was set aside for spending a day with nature. Having been on a number of whale watching trips, in addition to watching them from the shore, a whale watching cruise was definitely one of the first items on the agenda. We spent a couple of hours with Pacific Whale Foundation and  we were not disappointed.

Enroute to Maalaea Harbour we drove through the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, so we stopped at the Kealia Boardwalk for a stroll through coastal wetlands, enjoying the sights and sounds of local birds. This post will focus on the Wildlife Refuge and the next one on the whale watching.

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

This is a coastal salt marsh along both sides of Hwy 31 between Kihei and Maalaea Harbour. It includes the boardwalk, which starts from a small parking lot on the ocean side of the highway. If coming from Kihei, road signs prohibit turning left into the parking lot, so you need to drive past and turn around before accessing the parking area. Similar restrictions are in place on departure, as road signs prohibit a left turn towards Maalaea.

Kealia Boardwalk looking back to the parking lot Kealia Boardwalk

The Boardwalk follows the coast, is very well built and maintained, and extends for almost 1/2 mile. About the mid-point it crosses the inlet/outlet for the pond located across the road. It also provides access to the rather pleasant beach and dunes.

Kealia Boardwalk from the inlet to end of boardwalk

Kealia Boardwalk Bridge Looking Towards the End

We stopped at the bridge and enjoyed watching the birds and ducks, some of which are naive to Hawaii and others that stop over during migrations.

Kealia Boardwalk Hawaiin Stilt or Ae'o wading

Hawaiian Stilt or Aeo

Kealia Bordwalk Egret type bird

Egret Type of Bird

Kealia Bordwalk bird and ducks

Same Bird Watching the Ducks

The bridge crosses the inlet, which connects to Kealia Pond, located on the other side of the highway.

Kealia inlet looking across to South Kihei to Big Beach

Kealia Pond Inlet With South Kihei Shore in Background

Kealia Boardwalk inlet and pond across the road

Kealia Pond Inlet with Pond Visible on Other Side of Highway

Kealia Boardwalk Judi leaning on the edge

Judi on the Bridge Watching the Birds

On Maui, we tend to get wrapped up in excursions that generally involve boats, snorkelling, volcanoes or driving to Hana. However, if looking for a low key day, a stroll along the Kealia Boardwalk is highly recommended. Don’t forget the sunscreen, as it is completely open and in the middle of the day gets rather hot.

 

 

 

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