Although Maui, being the oh-so-remarkable tropical island that it is, may be limited by its island geography when it comes to possibilities for radical road trips, we happen to think it still offers some of the best roadside views anywhere in the country (and beyond).
As a bonus, there’s almost no chance of running out of gas, you’ll have a difficult time getting lost, you won’t have to worry about hitting rush hour traffic, the weather is almost always predictable, and you won’t have to deal with crossing any county, state or country borders along the way. Even better? You’ll be back in time for dinner, and you won’t have to listen to your partner’s terrible taste in road trip music for more than a few hours.
Maui’s Best (& Lesser Known) Scenic Drives
The West Maui Loop
Much less crowded than its east Maui road trip counterpart, we happen to think the scenic route circumventing the West Maui Mountains is one of the most underrated drives on The Valley Isle. A much shorter alternative to the Road to Hana that still affords you plenty of time for other evening plans, we recommend beginning the West Maui Loop from the Cook Pine tree-lined town of Kapalua, located only a short drive past Lahaina, Ka’anapali and Napili, and head clockwise in the direction of Wailuku.
Before you embark, be aware that this drive isn’t right for everyone. While the early portion of the drive includes its fair share of winding roads, the latter portion of the loop consists of narrow one-lane roadways, blind curves, elevation changes and a short stretch of cliff edge that’s enough to make nervous drivers rethink their decision. Additionally, there’s no benefit in renting a larger car or rugged jeep for this road trip, so don’t bother paying extra for these features. That being said, it’s easy enough to turn around when you hit Mile Marker #16, as the worst section of road begins here.
Where to Stop:
- Honolua Bay: Depending on the season, Honolua Bay is an excellent spot to head out for a snorkel (summer months) or sit back and watch the surfers (winter months). Snap some photos of the lush green path to the bay on your walk down.
- Nakalele Blowhole: Stop to admire this natural blowhole – and accompanying photogenic heart-shaped hole in a rock – on the journey. Be sure to stay on dry ground at all times!
- Olivine Pools: Four miles past Nakalele Blowhole, stop here for an oceanside view, lounge or dip in a Maui tide pool, when and if conditions permit. Beware of walking on slick wet rocks, and never jump in when waves are crashing directly into the pools or on days with high winds.
- Kahakuloa: Stop for local snacks at Julia’s Banana Bread and Lorraine’s Pie Shop, and browse work from local artists and admire the views at Karen Lei’s Gallery & Gift Shop nearby.
- Wailuku Town: Congrats, you’ve made it! Stop for a celebratory shopping excursion or pau hana cocktail in the historic and charming Wailuku Town.
While the majority of Maui visitors tend to opt for the full Haleakala Highway road trip leading them straight to the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala Volcano, often in time to witness a sunrise above the clouds, we’re here to offer an equally worthy – and much less crowded – volcanic road trip alternative.
Skip the 2am wakeup call (whew!) and join us on our weekly tour, Upcountry Tasting Tour, beginning at 10am at Maui Tropical Plantation every Monday. Start your day by sampling fresh Maui grown coffee varietals in a gorgeous tropical setting, and let us take you on a six hour road trip journey through the hills of Upcountry, stopping to taste the island’s best farm-to-table foods, locally-crafted wines and spirits, fresh produce and craft cocktails along the way.
As opposed to missing all the beauty of Upcountry while attempting to drive yourself and your fellow travel partners, relax in our comfortable Maui Craft Tours van and let an experienced local guide take the (literal) wheel. Not only will you learn a ton of fascinating information about Maui during the tour, but you’ll be treated to endlessly dreamy road trip views in the process.
Where You’ll Stop:
- Mill House Roasting Co.: Handcrafted and locally-roasted coffee, espresso and fresh baked Maui pastries, anyone? We thought so.
- Surfing Goat Dairy: Feed the local goats and take a private tour of Maui’s only artisanal goat cheese farm.
- Farm-to-Table Lunch: Taste flagship goat cheeses and choose from artisan paninis and salads for a memorable Maui lunch.
- MauiWine: Take in the lush views of Kula’s countryside, explore the winery grounds and enjoy a local wine tasting in the historic King’s Cottage.
- Kula Country Farms: Sample freshly grown produce and local goods at this legendary Upcountry farm stand.
- Hali’imaile Distilling: Located on the grounds of Hawaii’s last active pineapple plantation, you’ll receive an expert tour and liquor tasting at this local distillery on the slopes of Haleakala.
- The Mill House: Finally, end your day with farm-to-table pupus and handcrafted cocktails at the award-winning Mill House Restaurant overlooking the West Maui Mountains and a sparkling lagoon.
La Perouse Bay
Who says road trips have to be long, anyway?! Especially for those with a lifetime’s worth of bucket list items to cross off their Maui travel list in a less than ideal amount of time, sometimes less – especially when it comes to time spent in a vehicle – is more.
While the majority of visitors are busy planning their Hana and Haleakala road trips, a drive to the southernmost drivable area of Maui requires almost no planning ahead at all. Make the stunning journey along Wailea Alanui Drive past the many landscaped resort grounds and sprawling golf courses, make a right on Makena Road, bypassing the locally-loved Makena ‘Big’ Beach and the ultra-photogenic wedding hotspot of Pa’ako ‘Secret Cove’ Beach, and continue through the lava fields until you reach the end at La Perouse Bay.
Referred to as Maui’s ‘Forbidden Coast,’ La Perouse remains largely covered in the a’a lava remains of Haleakala’s last eruption in 1790. Take time to check out the local archaeological sites, keep an eye out for Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins resting in the bay, or follow the rugged coastline along the King’s Highway trail for an adventurous hike.
Where to Stop:
- The End of the Road: ‘Nuff said.