Need help planning Maui driving route

Old Aug 13th, 2021, 11:57 AM
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Need help planning Maui driving route

We leave in 2 weeks for 4-1/2 days in Maui (first time). We have lodging and car booked and need to figure out the best things to see/do and travel route between these points. Here is where we are staying (these can't be changed):
Arrive 2pm in Kahului airport; pick up car
Night #1 - Lahaina
Night #2 - HipCamp in Hana (just south of Hamoa Beach)
Night #3 & #4 - Napili Bay
Back to the airport by 10am next morning

So as you can see, we plan to zip across the island to Hana for a night then back across to the west coast for the last 2 nights. It's such a limited amount of time and I've never driven the roads so I don't know what might be the best route and driving time.

Thank you all for any hints you can give!

Last edited by cheezz; Aug 13th, 2021 at 12:08 PM.
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Old Aug 13th, 2021, 03:18 PM
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With 4 nights, you should have stayed in one place. Since you can’t change your accommodations, route choices are limited and the major road to/from Lahaina is always jam packed. Going is slow as roads a mostly 2 lane, if I recall. Plan on giving yourself plenty of travel time between locations.
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Old Aug 13th, 2021, 06:42 PM
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I bought an App for a couple of dollars that was a guided tour of the road to Hana. It was entertaining and informative and it suggested many places to stop. I don't recall the name of the App but I'm sure you'll be able to find it. When I drove the road to Hana I left very early in the morning. The traffic and crowds were not as bad as I expected.

For me, the Maui highlights were the Iao Valley and sunset at Haleakala.



Haleakala Sunset
Songdoc is offline  
Old Aug 14th, 2021, 08:44 AM
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I mean, there's only really one road to get to each of these places, so there's not much planning needed. Your only choice is to decide if you want to drive the Hana Highway in reverse, or take the long route around the south side of Haleakala on the way back to Napili. Personally, I would recommend the latter, as it provides alternative scenery, and the road is usually completely empty of tourists once you pass O'heo Gulch (and despite what some people say the roads are in pretty good condition, you can drive it with a rental car). Plus, if you wanted to drive to the top of Haleakala, this would be the best time in your itinerary to do it.

The North Loop Coastline Road between Kahului and Napili is not very well maintained, but is very scenic. It narrows down a single-lane dirt road at points and should not be attempted without a 4-wheel drive.

Roads might be slow, but also all the distances are short. My last visit, we drove the entire circumference of the island in a day. It was fun. If you don't stop along the way, Lahaina to Hana is probably ~3 hours via the Hana Highway. Since if you have a full day to do this drive, I would recommend stopping off as much as possible along the Hana Highway. The Hana Highway is great for exploring. Taking the Southern route probably only adds about 30 minutes directly, but since there's less stuff to stop off and see along the way, unless you go to the top of Haleakala, in all liklihood it'll actually be faster.


A general list of my recommendations for the island. You can see if you can fit any of these into your trip.

Kahului/Wailuku/Ma'alea area:
-Bailey House Museum
-I'ao Valley State Park (I feel like this should be the first place you go after you pick up your rental car)
-Ho'okipa Beach (technically on the Road to Hana)
-Maui Ocean Center

Hana Area:
-Hamoa Beach
-Waianapapa State Park (Black Sand Beach - one of the highlights of the Road to Hana)

Lahaina/Kapalua Area:
-Old Lahaina Courthouse
-Banyan Tree Park
-Kapalua Bay Beach

Haleakala:
Haleakala National Park
SirhanTheStrong is offline  
Old Aug 14th, 2021, 01:49 PM
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"route choices are limited"? What choices do I have, and what are the best ones? Yes, I know there will be a lot of traffic but we are early risers and plan to get on the road early if need be.
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Old Aug 14th, 2021, 03:15 PM
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Just get a paper map and look at it. There aren't that many choices

With only 4.5 days and staying in 3 different places you don't have a lot of time for much else.

Aren't you going to Haleakala?

Lahaina is a cool little town and great place for your first night. Do get out and walk around!!!
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Old Aug 15th, 2021, 02:48 PM
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Thank you! Now, that was very helpful. I do have one question, though -- everyone keeps talking about the Road to Hana and the reverse RTH.
From what I can gather, the Road to Hana is Highway 360?? And the reverse is where it starts going south just east of the airport? Also called Hwy 37/Piilani Hwy??
They both look to be about the same travel time so we would like to go the most scenic and/or less traveled one.

Though some people warn against going the southern route, others say it's not a big deal, we will have a rental car.

Advise?

Thanks!

Originally Posted by SirhanTheStrong View Post
I mean, there's only really one road to get to each of these places, so there's not much planning needed. Your only choice is to decide if you want to drive the Hana Highway in reverse, or take the long route around the south side of Haleakala on the way back to Napili. Personally, I would recommend the latter, as it provides alternative scenery, and the road is usually completely empty of tourists once you pass O'heo Gulch (and despite what some people say the roads are in pretty good condition, you can drive it with a rental car). Plus, if you wanted to drive to the top of Haleakala, this would be the best time in your itinerary to do it.

The North Loop Coastline Road between Kahului and Napili is not very well maintained, but is very scenic. It narrows down a single-lane dirt road at points and should not be attempted without a 4-wheel drive.

Roads might be slow, but also all the distances are short. My last visit, we drove the entire circumference of the island in a day. It was fun. If you don't stop along the way, Lahaina to Hana is probably ~3 hours via the Hana Highway. Since if you have a full day to do this drive, I would recommend stopping off as much as possible along the Hana Highway. The Hana Highway is great for exploring. Taking the Southern route probably only adds about 30 minutes directly, but since there's less stuff to stop off and see along the way, unless you go to the top of Haleakala, in all liklihood it'll actually be faster.


A general list of my recommendations for the island. You can see if you can fit any of these into your trip.

Kahului/Wailuku/Ma'alea area:
-Bailey House Museum
-I'ao Valley State Park (I feel like this should be the first place you go after you pick up your rental car)
-Ho'okipa Beach (technically on the Road to Hana)
-Maui Ocean Center

Hana Area:
-Hamoa Beach
-Waianapapa State Park (Black Sand Beach - one of the highlights of the Road to Hana)

Lahaina/Kapalua Area:
-Old Lahaina Courthouse
-Banyan Tree Park
-Kapalua Bay Beach

Haleakala:
Haleakala National Park
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Old Aug 15th, 2021, 02:49 PM
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Hi suze,

Haleakala is on the list for sure
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Old Aug 15th, 2021, 02:50 PM
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WOW!! Now that's definitely a picture worth framing....ahhhh!
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Old Aug 15th, 2021, 06:37 PM
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Be forewarned... It was teeth-chattering FREEZING atop Haleakala. I was there during an August heatwave--temps in the mid-90s at the beaches. But it was in the 30s at Haleakala. Bring thermal underwear, multiple layers, blankets, etc ... so you can enjoy those views. Those colors lasted much longer than I expected. Every time I thought it was over the colors got more intense.

I was concerned about driving down the winding road in the dark, especially when it started raining! But it was easy because all you're doing is slowly following the long line of headlights in front of you. When the rain (and clouds) passed the stars were INCREDIBLE!

I drove the "regular" direction on the road to Hana. As I said, I left quite early and there was much less traffic than I expected. There were many beautiful overlooks and I made countless stops. I certainly enjoyed it, but I live on Kauai and am used to seeing "wow" scenery every day. So it wasn't blown away. One of my favorite things was walking the Pipiwai trail just past Hana. I also loved the black sand beach and the caves at Waianapanapa State Park, just before Hana.

I'm sure you'll have a great time.
PS. Thanks for the nice comment about the photo. It's a favorite.
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Old Aug 16th, 2021, 08:37 AM
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So....the "regular" route is Hwy 360/Hana and the "reverse" route is Hwy 37/Piilani Hwy??

Hwy 37 (reverse route) being the one that rental cars aren't supposed to take??

Originally Posted by Songdoc View Post
Be forewarned... It was teeth-chattering FREEZING atop Haleakala. I was there during an August heatwave--temps in the mid-90s at the beaches. But it was in the 30s at Haleakala. Bring thermal underwear, multiple layers, blankets, etc ... so you can enjoy those views. Those colors lasted much longer than I expected. Every time I thought it was over the colors got more intense.

I was concerned about driving down the winding road in the dark, especially when it started raining! But it was easy because all you're doing is slowly following the long line of headlights in front of you. When the rain (and clouds) passed the stars were INCREDIBLE!

I drove the "regular" direction on the road to Hana. As I said, I left quite early and there was much less traffic than I expected. There were many beautiful overlooks and I made countless stops. I certainly enjoyed it, but I live on Kauai and am used to seeing "wow" scenery every day. So it wasn't blown away. One of my favorite things was walking the Pipiwai trail just past Hana. I also loved the black sand beach and the caves at Waianapanapa State Park, just before Hana.

I'm sure you'll have a great time.
PS. Thanks for the nice comment about the photo. It's a favorite.
cheezz is offline  
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