How easy or difficult is the road to Hana (Maui)?
December 20, 2007 10:17 PM   Subscribe

How dangerous or hair raising is the road to Hana?

I'm getting married in Maui and have been given lodgings in Hana as a gift. How challenging will it be to drive that road, especially on the wedding day, to our honeymoon? I'm from British Columbia and though I don't drive much, I've driven plenty of twisty alpine type roads and driven for 5-10 hours fairly often and safely, so I'm thinking the 3 hour drive should be safe enough, but I'm madly I'm a paranoid freak about security and I don't like to be unsafe, and I'll be distracted by my beautiful sweet love sitting beside me after I've tied the knot.
posted by Listener to Travel & Transportation around Maui, HI (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: No problem as long as you're not trying to beat someone's high score. There's enough traffic generally that you can't go fast enough to get in trouble. Leave early. It's a good long drive and you'll be seduced into stopping from time to time to stare open mouthed at things like waterfalls.

Honestly, I was much more freaked out driving the 340 around the northwestern tip of the island than I was the Hana Highway. At least the Hana is two solid paved lanes all the way. The 340 was scary. THAT's where the narrow bits and and the long slopes into blind curves are.
posted by Naberius at 10:22 PM on December 20, 2007

Rent a Jeep or some 4X4 and you'll be fine. It's a narrow road and quite curvy. The locals may tailgate you or seem aggressive, but don't let it get to you. They can drive that road in their sleep and they resent the slow-driving tourists (they can spot a rental a mile away), but take it slow no matter what the guy behind you does. Don't make the first drive out there at night if you can help it.

And definitely buy your groceries before you leave Kahului, as everything gets way more expensive the further out you go. Also, the selection of groceries is pretty terrible the further you go.

It's a breathtaking drive all around that side of the island (Hana to Wailea) if you have the time. Some of it is very desolate but still breathtaking.

We stayed at the Huelo Point Flower Farm for half of our honeymoon and made the trip out to Hana and then around the volcano.

Have fun! There are some great beaches and waterfalls out there!

And congrats!
posted by mds35 at 10:36 PM on December 20, 2007

When I mentioned things, I meant things like these.

And for the love of God, stop at Wainapanapa State Park on the way.

Hope those photos work. I just dove completely unprepared into flickr for the first time. Consider it an early wedding present. :-)
posted by Naberius at 10:42 PM on December 20, 2007

Its fine. We did it in the evening, in a small rental car.
And stayed only about an hour before driving back.

I'm not sure why you would need a 4x4 - it's a fully paved road.
posted by vacapinta at 11:04 PM on December 20, 2007

Disclaimer: I did this trip about 9 years ago and so things may have changed since then.

The rental car company told us that we were absolutely not allowed to take the car past a certain point, meaning that we would need to turn around at the "end" of the road to Hana and come all the way back the way we came, down the road, through K'aanapali, Lahaina, back to our hotel in Wailea (which was lovely!) This is because the "backside" of the island (Hana to Wailea) was rough, untravelled, volcanic/burnt, and not all that accessible. We would essentially be "violating our rental contract" and would be screwed and alone if something bad happened. Naturally, we went for it.*

My point is, depending where you are staying on Maui, I'd factor in the time/route you may take home.

*it was awesome.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:06 PM on December 20, 2007

Take it slow and keep your eyes on the road, and you'll be fine, but, speaking as one of those resentful locals, if you notice traffic backing up behind you, definitely make use of the numerous pull-offs to allow the faster travelers past. You'll be less stressed, they'll be less stressed--win/win all around.
posted by flod at 11:06 PM on December 20, 2007

I was 12 when I got driven on this, so I can't speak to the road conditions. However, in my memory, it took much more than 3 hours. But it was a long time ago.
posted by salvia at 11:43 PM on December 20, 2007

Best answer: Don't sweat it, Listener. Do as others advise: take it cool, stop to admire the views, and yield to locals. If you have an overwhelming urge to make out, pull to the side of the road where there's a side of the road. Keanae is a nice wide spot to stop for a while at.

iamkimiam: when I was there last year, the highway was closed just past Hana at the Seven Sacred Pools due to earthquake damage. A village and some park service folks were completely cut off and reliant on helicopter-drops of food and water. Circumnavigation was impossible, unfortunately. Is it still be like that, flod?
posted by mumkin at 1:47 AM on December 21, 2007

mumkin: I was there in June and it was still like that - we were staying past Hana and our host told us the local gov't is keeping the road closed in the hopes of getting some federal money to make improvements. They were pissed about having to take the Hana highway to shop instead of going the back way.

I was in a crappy rental and didn't find the road difficult or dangerous. Just pay attention to driving and pull over when you want to gawk.

Third'ing the advice to just pull over as soon as you can if someone is tailgating you- you will most likely get an appreciative smile or a surfer wave.
posted by bobot at 4:58 AM on December 21, 2007

Best answer: Man, I love that road. There's lots of switchbacks and ups and downs but you'll be fine. It's fully paved and there's lots of signs to slow down where needed. You will be stopping to admire waterfalls and gorgeous views. I drove it in a Subaru Forester and was completely fine and I'm from flat-land Ontario. If you're used to driving in mountainous areas in BC this will be a cinch for you.

If the roads are good, do make the complete drive around that part of the island. It's a very interesting drive. Congrats and have fun!
posted by KathyK at 6:08 AM on December 21, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, all, including for the tip about groceries. My map book says there are 37 one-lane bridges on that road, so I guess we'll get used to passing those things, too. I'm looking forward to stopping and sightseeing now, and I don't feel concerned but more excited. Thanks.
posted by Listener at 6:50 AM on December 21, 2007

The rental car company told us that we were absolutely not allowed to take the car past a certain point, meaning that we would need to turn around at the "end" of the road

I did the whole backside route in 1999, but to be honest it's not that splendid a route, unless you're interested in looking for open, treeless homesites with ocean views and excellent insolation. For about 2 miles there's just a dirt road, but it wasn't that bad, at least ten years ago.

Coming back from Hana I did in fact "race", since I was following some locals in a Toyota truck and they were going really fast.

The road from Kapalua to Kahului was in fact a lot scarier, given the unprotected one-lane section that goes up a hill, but it's a great road to drive other than that.
posted by panamax at 9:33 AM on December 21, 2007

I wasn't frightened at all, but I wish I had taken Dramamine. My husband had to stop every mile or so to allow me to be sick until he just decided, "Screw it, we're turning around."
posted by Gucky at 10:00 AM on December 21, 2007

The first time I drove it was in the dark, and I drove fast - it took about two hours. When I drove back the next day, I was appalled to see the risks I'd been taking. It's really a 3 hour drive. The road is safe but there are places where if you go over the edge it's a sheer thousand foot drop.

So don't drive it in the dark. The view is so gorgeous, I don't know why you'd want to anyway.

Waianapanapa State Park is on my top 5 list of favorite places I've ever been.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2007

I did it in an A4 convertable and it was just fine. My advice is don't get a Mustang because every other tourist will have one. It's literally packed with tourists, so you'll be in a clump of five other cars, all going very slow. If you get annoyed, pull over and let them pass. The trick is just not to be in a hurry. If you get car sick easily, however, all the twists and turns can be pretty brutal even at a slow speed.

Along the way there are some really spectacular trees--sort of a multi-colored eucalyptus.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:50 AM on December 21, 2007

The thing about rental car companies telling you that you cannot drive a certain point of it (from Hana to Kahalui) is not as bad as it sounds. It doesn't mean you can't do it, it just means that if you get stuck they won't come get you (you're on your own for extraction, and you pay the cost and the damages). It also means that if you get the daily insurance protection (LDW, etc) than it is all void on that road, and again you're going to have to pay for any issues out of pocket. Your personal car insurance may or may not cover it.

So be safe, be slow, be prudent, let someone else go first. :)
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:53 AM on December 21, 2007

You don't need a 4x4 for a day drive out there, but if you're going to be there for the week, you'll be glad to have one (rental Jeep or Subaru). Not all the roads are paved, and none of the paved roads are flat or straight.
posted by mds35 at 1:10 PM on December 27, 2007

Response by poster: Just an update. We did it. The difficulty of the drive was minimal, nothing compared to my drive to and through Tweedsmuir Park here in BC. In fact, it was quite underwhelming. Only the blowhole at Waianapanapa was spectacular. I don't like driving so I should have given that 3-hour trip a miss for our wedding day, but, hey, it had its moments.
posted by Listener at 7:58 PM on January 31, 2008

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