Any first time trip to Maui probably includes driving the Road to Hana. Being big fans of family road trips and exploring the surrounding area, we have this drive on our list of things to do but if you’re looking for a driving adventure then head to the west side of Maui to drive the Kahekili Highway.
The Kahekili Highway you’re wondering? Who wants to drive a highway when on vacation? We made a day trip and drove around the west side of the island passing through Maalaea (to visit the Maalaea General Store for a Lemon Merengue Malasadas), Olowalu (home of Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop), and the very busy seaside village of Lahaina. Since our map showed the road went all the way around the island we decided to continue our drive instead of retracing our route.
It should have been a nice picturesque drive and it started out that way, winding around the shoreline providing great views of Honolua Bay and a stop for fresh fish tacos. It was amazing to see the landscape change from dusty rock to lush greenery. But sometime after Honokohau Bay the road suddenly changed to a one-lane road for two-way traffic.
Not completely unusual in less developed areas of the island. The roads are used mainly by locals and aren’t as active. We’d see signs like “no shoulder”, “narrow windy road” and “single lane”. But the narrow road kept going, for over 21 miles, up cliff edges with no shoulders. It was our car pressed against the rock avoiding the cliff edge and if that wasn’t nerve wracking enough, what happens when an oncoming car would approach? If you were lucky you would get the inside road against the rock wall, but sometimes the other car would force you to the outside road by the cliff.
As the passenger I could enjoy the lush landscape dotted by only by small villages, and sharp cliff drops to valleys and watery coves below. For the driver the thrill, if you can call it that, is more about the sharp winding turns. The scenery will probably be limited to what’s 6 feet in front of you as you anticipate each turn and watch out for on coming traffic (which thankfully was few and far between).
The road is paved though there are portions where falling rocks can be a concern. The road isn’t lit and many segments don’t even have reflectors so if you do plan to do the route make sure to drive it during the daytime in nice weather conditions. I can’t imagine the drive should rain hit.
I think I spent more time watching the scenery than taking photos. There aren’t many stops on the Kahekili Highway either. No lookout points and only a few makeshift trailers to grab a snack such as handmade banana bread or water. We made it to the end but I don’t think the drive is on our list to do again.
So while the Road to Hana may be the adventurous road trip everyone is talking about, if you like a driving thrill than head down Kahekili Highway if you dare. Have you ever found yourself on a scary road when traveling?