The Maui road trip circles this beautiful Hawaiian island and showcases its incredibly diverse natural scenery. You’ll visit Haleakalā National Park, stunning coastlines, and learn about Hawaiian culture during your trip.
Where to Go
Your road trip will likely begin in Kahului since this is where Maui’s primary airport and most car rental facilities are located. Stock up on all the supplies you need at the stores in town or take a chance and embrace the local vibe. Watch cruise ships dock at the Kahului Harbor, shop for local produce and handicrafts at the Maui Swap Meet or wander through the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. As Maui’s busiest shopping district, Kahului is the place to best prepare for your journey around the island.
Road to Hana
Your road trip continues on the Road to Hana. Stretching just over 64 miles, the Road to Hana showcases some of Maui’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Steeped in legendary tales, the northeastern section of the island has inspired adventurers for centuries. The scenic drive starts just past Kahului and hugs the coastline to give you uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. Take your time on the twisting highway by chasing waterfalls, hiking to lush gardens, and lounging on beaches of many colors. You’ll cross dozens of bridges that venture into the depths of Maui’s tropical rainforest. Must-see stops include the Garden of Eden Arboretum, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Town, and Wailua Falls.
Haleakalā National Park
Many Maui visitors turn around after completing the Road to Hana, but that would be doing a disservice to this sacred landscape. Continue your trip at Haleakalā National Park. The conjunction of volcanic craters and tropical rainforest here creates an otherworldly adventure for hardy travelers. Give yourself enough time to explore the contrasting features of the coastal Kīpahulu District and the summit of Haleakalā. Kīpahulu treats you to authentic Hawaiian culture, lush vegetation, rocky coastlines, and tumbling cascades. At over 10,000 ft elevation, the Haleakalā summit feels like walking on Mars with its cinder cones, piercing red deserts, and rocky cliffs. Clouds often linger against the horizon and watching the sunrise from the crater is one of Earth’s magical spectacles. To witness the show, you’ll need a sunrise reservation before your visit.
Maui Ocean Center
The next stop on your road trip is the Maui Ocean Center. Anyone interested in marine life will feel right at home here! The facility caters to Hawaiian marine life and frequently earns honors as one of America’s top aquariums. It features exhibits on underwater creatures such as sharks, stingrays, humpback whales, and turtles. The Pacific coral displays are among the largest on the planet, and the staff works diligently to make artificial coral reefs to sustain the fragile ecosystem.
Continue along your way to Kaanapali Beach. Sink your toes in the sand and live the good life in this strip of paradise that contains lavish beach resorts. The three-mile stretch of white sands and turquoise waters has earned global praise for its natural beauty. World-class golf courses, condominium villages, and upscale shops add to its glamorous appeal. Don’t leave without witnessing the daily sunset ceremony at Black Rock that concludes with a thrilling cliff dive. From whale sightings to unbelievable snorkeling, it’s easy to figure why Kaanapali earned honors as “America’s Best Beach.”
West Maui Mountains
From Kaanapali Beach, head to the West Maui Mountains. The untamed landscapes of West Maui create some of the most dangerous drives anywhere on the island. In fact, some stretches are so risky that many rental companies don’t cover drivers who travel the route. The Hono-a-Piilani Highway wraps around the West Maui Forest Reserve and presents dramatic ocean vistas. Marvel at verdant forests, rocky peaks, sheer cliffs, fertile valleys, and unspoiled beaches around every turn.
When to Go
The summer and winter both receive large numbers of tourists, and rates are much higher. Arriving in the spring or fall can help you to avoid the crowds and still enjoy that fabulous Hawaii weather. The rainy season is around November-March, and dodging the winter provides better driving conditions. Scheduling your trip between April-June or September-November will likely result in the most enjoyable trip. While this itinerary is doable within a few days, don’t feel rushed when exploring this breathtaking island.