Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui

Kahekili Highway, Lava Fields At La Perouse Bay, Road To Hana and Haleakala Summit

Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui In Hawaii

So Many Great Spot To Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui

We found so many great spots to drive the twisty roads of Maui.  Renting a car for our stay in Maui ensured we got out and explored yet another of the beautiful Hawaiian islands.  

We got our first introduction to the wild roads in Maui when we headed up the Kahekili Highway.  It prepared us for the long and twisty Road to Hana.  When we followed the Makana Road, it ended at the lava fields at La Perouse Bay (Keone’O’Io).  And when we took the hairpin turns to the top, we were rewarded with an amazing sunset and night sky at the Haleakala Summit.

No outing was complete without a little excitement on the roads in Maui.

Driving In Maui

We have visited many volcanic islands.  So we were prepared for the steep and twisty roads we found as we explored Maui.  The main roads were in good condition and had mostly gentle curves.  Our trip from the airport took us along the coast and close to steep cliffs on both sides.  But it was still manageable at a reasonable speed.  When the road straightened out we got amazing views of the hills and peaks that covered Maui.

Main Highway - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Main Highway View

When we headed off on the secondary roads that led to less travelled routes, it was another story.  The roads narrowed and often turned into narrow roads that required stops for single-lane bridges.  We found roads that clung to the side of cliffs with often few pull-off viewpoints.  The Road to Hana was known for its crazy drive. But we were surprised with how many other wild drives we took.

We rented a car and after 2 days exchanged it for a smaller car.  Our rental car needed to be narrow enough to easily pass on narrow roads and powerful enough for drives up to summit heights.  We knew that there were some restrictions on where you could go with rental cars.  So we read the fine print before we headed out. 

We did not let the twisty roads of Maui deter us on our adventures around the island.

The Kahekili Highway To The Nakalele Blowhole

We got our first exposure to the roads of Maui on the Kahekili Highway (HI30). When we left our luxury hotel in Maui we continued further out in west Maui.  It was later in the day and we were not sure how far we would get before we turned back. 

The roads on the early part of the drive were twisty but still easy to drive.  We pulled over and got our first view over the coast at Honolua Bay.  We saw the road ahead dip down as it passed around the mouth of the bay.

Kahekili Highway Honalua - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

When we passed the bay, the road changed to HI340.  We were prepared for worse roads. But the curves were gentle at this point and the road was in good shape.  At the sign for the Nakalele Blowhole we parked.  We saw people out on the edge looking out to sea.  When we got to the edge we loved the great view up the coast.  And off in the distance we looked towards the Nakalele Blowhole.

Kahekili Highway Nakalele Blowhole
Kahekili Highway Nakalele Blowhole
Kahekili Highway Nakalele Blowhole - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

We backtracked and found the steep, rocky path down to the blowhole.  Warning signs were along the path.  We moved partway down the path and got a great view of the blowhole erupting.  

Kahekili Highway Nakalele Blowhole - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Kahekili Highway Nakalele Blowhole - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Kahekili Highway Nakalele Blowhole

Taking the twisty roads of Maui to the Nakalele Blowhole was easy and well worth it.  But since it was late in the day, we wanted to explore more along the coast so we moved on.

Finished Our Drive On The Kahekili Highway At Kahakuloa Bay

Very soon we saw why there were big concerns about driving along the Kahekili Highway beyond this point.  We saw signs about narrow windy roads.  Signs warned about falling rocks and we dodged several on the road.  And we passed the sign for the end of the state highway.

Kahekili Highway
Kahekili Highway

As we continued our drive, the road shoulders disappeared.  And we came to our first single-lane bridge.  We learned the etiquette for crossing these bridges that came in handy when we found so many of these bridges on the Road to Hana.  At several points on roads that climbed or dipped, the road was only wide enough for one car.  Often people backed up until the road was wide enough for two cars to pass.

Kahekili Highway
Kahekili Highway
Kahekili Highway - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

In most places the roads clung to the side of the hills.  And we passed really close to large rock outcroppings.  But the view was good – for those not driving!

Kahekili Highway - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

It was a wild but crazy drive.  When we reached Kahakuloa Bay we pulled into a parking area and enjoyed the stunning view over the bay and back down the shore.  The view was certainly worth driving on the twisty roads of Maui.

Kahekili Highway Kahakuloa Bay - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Kahekili Highway Kahakuloa Bay

The road continued for about 45 minutes from this point to Wailuki.  But we knew the driving would not get easier.  And then we would still need to come all the way back on the main roads.  With the sun getting low in the sky, we knew it was time to turn back.  We did not want to do a return trip on those roads in the dark.  

If you plan to drive the Kahekili Highway all the way around to Wailuki, check the insurance limitations if you have a rental car.  Some policies prohibit driving this whole route.

Drive The Twisty Roads of Maui On The Road To Hana

One day on our stay in Maui, we headed out to drive the famed Road to Hana.  We did a lot of research in advance and knew it was a crazy drive.  But our first adventure on the Kahekili Highway prepared us.  

The Road to Hana was 52 miles long with 56 bridges and 617 curves!  We took it slow and enjoyed the drive and the views while we drove.

Road To Hana
Road To Hana - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Road To Hana

We found many great sights along the Road to Hana.  A long stop at the Garden of Eden gave us a break from driving and we enjoyed the views in this lovely spot.  At Pua A Kua we stopped again and walked around and saw different waterfalls.  Even if we did not take a swim at this stop.

Road To Hana Garden of Eden
Road To Hana Garden of Eden Views - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Road To Hana Pua A Kua Waterfall - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Road To Hana Pua A Kua Waterfall

The forecasted rain caught up to us before we hit Hana.  Luckily we were stopped for a coffee and waited out the worst of the weather.  But the time we reached Hana the weather cleared and we enjoyed the scenery along the shore. The road continued on past Hana.  We went a bit further and enjoyed the coastal views and the Wailua Falls. 

Road To Hana - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Road To Hana Wailua Falls

Our trip back was faster with no stops.  The Road to Hana was one of the twisty roads of Maui we were glad we didn’t miss.

Heading To La Perouse Bay (Keone’O’Io Bay) In South Maui

On another day we went to the south area of Maui.  We stopped in Wailai first for lunch break.  At the Paia Fish Market we enjoyed a fresh fish meal and wandered around the town.  We knew this was a very different area than where we stayed in Maui and deserved more investigation for a return trip.  But well fed, it meant we passed some of the great food trucks we found as we continued up the Makana Road.

Waulai Paia Fish Market
Makana Beach Road

After we left the town we got our first glimpse of the rocky, lava shore.  We stopped and got a better view of the bay where snorkelers headed.

Makana Beach Road - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Makana Beach Road

As we continued along we followed yet another of the twisty roads of Maui.  The road ran right along the rocky lava shore.  It narrowed to a single lane roadway with sharp corner turns.

Makana Beach Road - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

We just kept going and saw where this road ended.

The Lava Fields At Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve

When the road moved back from the shore, we crossed into the Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve and the road went through the lava field.  The lands on either side of this narrow road were closed to visitors and there were no places to stop along the road.

Lava Fields Perouse Bay

The road finally stopped at La Perouse Bay (or Keone’O’Io Bay).  We saw the monument to the French explorer Jean Francois de Galaup La Pérouse that marked the entrance to La Perouse Bay.  Parking in the small lot, we got out and explored more.

Lava Fields Perouse Bay - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Lava Fields Perouse Bay

We headed for the lava and coral beach and enjoyed the views.  This was a protected resting spot for dolphins.  But we were not allowed to swim with the dolphins or go near them.  But on this visit, we sadly did not even see the playful dolphins.  From this spot the Hoapili Trail (also called the King’s Trail) went along the ocean.  The hike through uneven volcanic rock went to a lighthouse.  But on this visit we passed on the 3 – 4 mile roundtrip hike.  

Lava Fields Perouse Bay - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Lava Fields Perouse Bay

When we turned away from the water we got an amazing view of the back side of Haleakala.  Around 1790, Haleakala erupted and formed this lava rock coastline.   The jagged black lava was a sharp contrast to the green slopes of Haleakala and the turquoise blue ocean waters.  We were excited because we would soon see this view from the summit of Haleakala.

Lava Fields Perouse Bay Haleakala - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

We were glad we followed another of the twisty roads of Maui to the lava fields at Hanouse Bay.

Heading Up To The Haleakala Summit

We had one more great adventure in Maui.  In the late afternoon we slowly took the winding roads up to the summit at Haleakala.

Haleakala Summit
Haleakala Summit
Haleakala Summit - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Crater View Clouds - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

We settled in and enjoyed the views out over the coast.  And as the sun set on the Haleakala Summit we got an amazing and colourful show.  We stayed as the night sky settled in and got another stunning display.

Haleakala Summit - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Haleakala Summit - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii
Dark Night Sky - Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui Hawaii

The twisty roads of Maui were a challenge in broad daylight.  But our trip down from the Haleakala Summit proved how much more challenging they were in the pitch black.  We drove slowly and carefully, pulling over when others wanted to race down.

Haleakala Summit

Drive The Twisty Roads Of Maui For Great Views

There were some amazing spots to drive the twisty roads of Maui.  And we made sure we planned some of these crazy experiences.

The great views along the Kahekili Highway were worth the drive on narrow winding roads.  It prepared us for the narrow road with single lane bridges on the Road to Hana.  The drive to the lava fields at La Perouse Bay (Keone’O’Io) was tamer and well worth the sights we got.  Driving up and back down hairpin turns to the Haleakala Summit rewarded us with stunning views from sunset through to a clear night sky.  

No outing was complete without a little excitement on the roads in Maui. So much fun on our stay in Maui.

Did you drive the twisty roads of Maui?  Did we miss one of your favourites?

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  1. What a fun adventure you guys had in Maui! I’ve never been to Hawaii but it’s one of the places I most want to see. The lava fields are interesting to see so close up and it’s good those signs are there for the blowholes! I’m not good at too many curves on the road; it is the same on the costiera Amalfitana and I felt a bit sick!

  2. Sounds like an adventure as far as driving in Maui. My friend is renting a car in Hawaii this summer and she said she is nervous about driving. It is good to be prepared.

    • We are used to driving on crazy roads so driving on the twisty roads in Maui was not an issue. But good to know what to expect. And the drivers were much more careful than I worried.

  3. We thought we covered Maui well. We didn’t discover La Perouse Bay or the Lava Fields!!! Did everything else though and yes they were twisty especially the one to the summit and Hana!

  4. Stunning photos, certainly of the sunset at Haleakala summit! The twisty roads are definitely worth the drive seeing your pictures.

  5. Since I’m not driving – anywhere in the world – this is one post I’ll never write 😉 Especially the different views and angles on this route are really interesting – and quite different from what I imagined Maui would like look – somehow rougher. I always though Maui was just this sweet isle full of flowers.

    • Some of these routes in Maui you can do on small group tours. So you would get the views and the road experience. We were glad we got so many of these on our travels.

  6. Wow all I’d like to do right now is drive along the winding coast of Maui – I’m glad you were able to take it slow and stop and enjoy the views!

  7. The Road to Hana was the one thing we weren’t able to do when we visited Maui. We will definitely have to do it next time around. We were able to see the sunrise at Haleakala though and then bike down and it was truly incredible. We love Maui!

    • We were glad we planned the Road to Hana. Definitely one for your next visit. But I sure would not have biked down that twisty road at Haleakala after sunrise.

  8. Great guide to help manage expectations on all the twisty roads in Maui! We’ve done the Road to Hana and most recently the road to the Nakalele Blowhole. Didn’t think my rental was going to make it up! Not for the faint hearted!

  9. My sister and I recently drove the Kahekili Highway and up to the Haleakala Summit, and I’ve love to go back and do the Road to Hana. Lots of great drives around Maui!

  10. Twisty roads freak me out, but BOY are these beautiful! Maybe I’ll just hire a driver lol

  11. What a lovely way to explore the island. Withfun twisty roads to drive, beautiful scenery, blowholes & lava fields Maui looks like a great place to visit! Thanks for sharing your tips!

  12. Twisty roads all right! so close to the edge at times. My heart was in my mouth just viewing your photos of which they are stunning. Im not sure I would cope being a passenger ..i might have to drive every so slowly though. What an amazing trip.

  13. Wow! Those spectacular views and breathtaking scenery certainly made up for the winding, twisty roads which definitely did not look easy to drive. Some great stops along the way too.

  14. I was a passenger on the road to Hana and Haleakala as a teen. I really need to return with the hubby (who LOVES driving windy roads!) and take this trips with him and the kiddo. Thank you for the inspiration!

  15. I love driving but I am not keen on twisty roads, especially when they are so close to the cliffs. Whilst I am used to narrow lanes, I am not comfortable driving on them, now knowing what is coming from ahead. There are so many lanes here in England, where the speed limit is 60mph which is insane when you have hedges on both sides and cyclists on the road as well, with barely any visibility. The Kahekili Highway seems the most intense road, not sure how I’d cope with that very narrow cliff side. Good that you’ve changed the car for a smaller one!

    • We were prepared for the twisty roads before we arrived and very soon we found all the research we did was right. Slow and steady. Luckily most people on most of the roads drove responsibly and the narrow single lane parts were managed well.

  16. I like short and slow drives. And even though these roads are scary, they have mindblowing views. I would love to sit on the lava rocks and watch the dolphins. I haven’t been to a volcanic island, so this sight is of high geological interest to me. The rocks look sharp though. And that sunset picture with the silhouette of the people is simply stunning. Nighttime drives do sound crazy though in such isolated spots, but I guess they have their oen charm.

  17. Enjoyed your adventurous driving experience! We have not been to Maui yet, but driven through many twisty and hairpin routes. The need for a smaller and faster car reminded me of the mountainous narrow roads in UK with passing places but a tougher car like a 4WD is needed in remote unsealed roads in places like Tasmania. But, if you love driving, all these adventures are fun, aren’t they? I am adding Maui to my bucket list. Great blog post! 🙂

    • I hope you do get to visit Maui. The drives were worth it. We too look for small cars anywhere in Europe. And good to know we may want to consider 4WD too.

  18. That sure sounds like an amazing adventure drive : we are acquainted with such roads on some remote areas. I am happy to hear that the sights were worth it. I was curious to know which car you got in the end because small could mean not powerful. Your pictures are also super beautiful of the sights on the way!

  19. It must be really exciting to drive on winding roads! The Nakalele Blowhole’s aquamarine waters seem immaculate. The Garden of Eden is the ideal spot to relax, and the surroundings are just stunning. Your fish lunch from Paia Fish Market looks great, and I’d love to try it too! This is a particularly amazing Maui road trip itinerary.

  20. OMG! That warning at Nakalele Blowhole was crazy. Hope people are responsible to follow it. That was pretty straightforward.

    Anyway, thank you for managing our expectations when driving in Maui. I usually prefer bigger cars for “safety” reasons but I guess smaller ones also has its advantages.

    The view is amazing. The sunset at the Haleakala Summit is breathtaking. This is definitely worth the trip.

    • Our first car was not really big. But a little wider than we felt comfortable with on some of the narrow roads. But we saw all kinds of cars navigating the roads. Good thing that most people were reasonable drivers and patient. Well worth driving for the amazing Maui sights.

  21. You guys had a great adventure at Maui, and I loved the way you described everything in details. I loved the road to Hana , the twisted path . You encountered water falls, gardens and the scenic view was amazing. I wish to visit Maui one day and explore all these hidden gems.

  22. Those are some amazing pictures of the cliffs and the sea. I in particular loved your night shot and the silhouette – you should think of framing that one . No doubt that the trip was adventurous but the views have made them so worth it all. Good tip on getting a smaller car for these roads. Am glad that you got to see the blowhole erupting – does it do that at regular intervals or did you get lucky?

  23. Driving the twisty roads of Maui is an exhilarating adventure that blends breathtaking scenery with the thrill of navigating winding paths. Every turn reveals stunning vistas and hidden gems, making it a must-do experience for any travel enthusiast. Embrace the journey, savor the beauty, and let Maui’s magic take the wheel.

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