The Hana Highway’s road twists and turns hundreds of times, and 54 one-lane bridges add to the drama. // © 2012 Ron Dahlquist MVB
There’s more to the Valley Isle than magnificent beaches, and driving in Maui can take you there. A rental car provides access to a wealth of tropical riches, from rolling upcountry hills to coastal cliffs and quaint plantation towns. It’s a diverse destination that’s begging to be explored on four wheels.
Not only are Maui’s roads scenic, they’re well marked and maintained. All of the major car rental companies hand out easy-to-read maps to help clients chart the journey. Check out these four exceptional drives on the island, proof positive that getting there is half the fun.
From Kahului, this 37-mile beauty leads to the 10,023-foot summit of the dormant volcano Haleakala. Drivers enjoy views of sparkling cane fields, ranch lands with grazing cattle and sweeping vistas down to the sea. There are plenty of switchbacks, so take it easy during the remarkable ride to the summit, where you can look inside a crater the size of Manhattan.
Whether you tackle it in one long day or break up the trip with an overnighter in the east Maui hamlet of Hana, get an early start on this 56-mile treasure. The road twists and turns hundreds of times, and 54 one-lane bridges add to the drama. Stop along the way for jungle hikes, fruit stands, swimming, waterfalls and some of Maui’s most jaw-dropping views.
On Maui’s northwest coast, the 12 miles from Maalaea to Lahaina serve up perfect views of Kahoolawe and Lanai islands. The road snuggles up to the West Maui mountains on one side and expanses of beach and ocean on the other, and drivers can easily pull over for snorkeling and swimming. During the winter months, it’s a reliable route for spotting humpback whales.
Driving around peaceful upcountry Maui, clients savor views of neighboring islands, central and west Maui, soaring paragliders and green pastures with grazing horses. The picturesque 12-mile Waipoli Road begins in Kula and zigzags up the west slopes of Haleakala to Polipoli State Park. A stop at Alii Kula Lavender Garden rewards drivers with tea, scones and the fresh scent of eucalyptus forests.