Explore Hawaii

5 Reasons to Visit Maui's Secret Painted Forest

Slow down and savor these fragrant and unusual eucalyptus trees in a hidden grove.

Breathtaking waterfalls, lush rainforests, coastal views—the 65-mile Road to Hana on Maui has it all. Its possible travelers could get so wrapped up in taking in the forest that they miss the trees. The Ke'anea Arboretum and the towns of Kula, Makawao and Haiku boast groves of colorful eucalyptus trees and the most vibrant are at Mile Marker 7 along Maui's most scenic drive.

Painted forest on Maui
This unique eucalyptus grove is near Mile Marker 7 on the Road to Hana in Maui. (©W. Tipton/Flickr, Creative Commons)

It's the only eucalyptus species found in the Northern Hemisphere.

These colorful trees love tropical climes and therefore grow large and vibrant in Hawaii. They are cultivated in other parts of the United States, but they aren't as robust in other areas. Maui's painted trees are the only known species of eucalyptus indigenous to the Northern Hemisphere. 

The trees are constantly changing.

These trees can quickly grow to more than 6-feet-wide and 200-feet-tall. The bark sheds annually, exposing a bright green inner bark that changes to blue, purple, orange and maroon as the bark matures. The best time to visit is right after a rain when wood has the deepest version of its colors. 

Ziplines fly right through them.

At least one company offers the chance to zip through the fragrant treetops on a ziplining tour through Haleakala National Forest, where the lines cut right above another painted grove.  

It's relaxing.

As if a vacation on Maui isn't relaxing enough, a visit to the eucalyptus forest can make it more so. Eucalyptus oil is used in a wide variety of health products for its anti-inflammatory, decongestant and astringent properties. This unique scent fills the forest air around the trees and because eucalyptus is also a stimulant, it relieves mental exhaustion and stress. A visit to the forest is definitely a multisensory experience.

The branches are home to endangered animals.

While the leaves are poisonous to most animals and not substantial enough for others, they're home to the endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat that usually takes flight at dusk.

Hawaiian Hoary Bat
The Hawaiian Hoary Bat makes roosts in forested areas, including the Painted Forest. (©Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr, Creative Commons)