Piilani Highway : Driving the back road to Hana

Rough paved section of Piilani HIghway near Kaupo

They said not to do it!

They said to take the Hana Highway (State Highway 360) all the way to Kipahulu, past Hana, and then drive back the same long winding way, even if the curvy road makes you sick.

The guidebooks cautioned against driving on the Piilani Highway (aka Pi’ilani Highway), despite it being the most obvious, shorter and faster, way to come back to West Maui from Kipahulu. The rental car company said it would void the rental agreement, and we would be on our own in case the car breaks down. The numerous websites cautioned against falling rocks, flash floods, unpaved and crooked roads, livestock on the road, and, failing all the above, the wrath of God in various forms.

But we knew we had to see what Piilani Highway was all about.

And glad we did. For it remains our most memorable drive in Maui, along with the Kahekili Highway drive along the north west Maui coast.

Piilani Haighway (also known as State HIghway 31), is the road south of Mount Haleakala approximately between Ulupalakua and Kipahulu. On our trip to Hana, and beyond to Kipahulu, we drove back to West Maui on Piilani Highway. And we lived to tell the story. Believe me, Piilani Highway not half as scary as it is painted out to be, unless you are traveling the road after a rain-storm, or at night. Yes, its bumpy, one-and-a-half-lane-hugging-the-cliff at places, but its what memories are made of.

Piilani Highway from Kipahulu to Ulupalakua, HI

Piilani Highway from Kipahulu to Ulupalakua, HI

When we reached Hana after a long and arduous drive, it was one in the afternoon. It was pouring in Hana, like they said it would. So we drove through Hana, and before we knew we were outside the town. The road started to get narrower slowly, and finally asymptoted into one-and-a-half-lane windiness. There were houses along the road, with great views of the ocean. There appeared to be a large number of artists’ studios. Perhaps such isolation breeds creativity. We drove past a lady aimlessly walking on the road. She had that hint of deep-rooted melancholy in her eyes. The creative kind, I thought to myself.

The first interesting diversion came a little later, round a bend called South Wailua. There was a tall waterfall (200 ft or so by various claims), called the South Wailua falls. It was pretty, wispy, and framed well by the foliage. There really was not all that much water falling down, which made it possible to walk down the short trail to get a closer look. It was perhaps the best waterfall we have seen on the road to Hana. The nearby roadside parking lot was overflowing with six or so cars, three of them red Mustang convertibles. We had to wait for some couple of minutes to find a spot to park our red Ferrari Enzo. Ah well, make it a regular-issue rental Dodge Jalopy or something. :-)

South Wailua falls near Hana

South Wailua falls near Hana

The nest stop, not too far away, was the Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu. The piece de resistance here is Ohe’o Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools. (Note to myself: learn from this incredible marketing technique; there were twenty or so, not seven, pools, and no one knew why they were sacred). Oheo Gulch is where the Oheo stream comes down the mountain side to the ocean; on the way it flows over lava outcroppings, and forms these beautiful pools. There were people swimming in them, though its not recommended because of the common presence of Leptospirosis bacteria.

The Oheo Gulch area had very little water at this time, but its not always the case. Flash floods can occur that are known to raise the water level by some four feet in ten minutes. You can find a picture of such a flash flood in Oheo Gulch here.

Oheo Gulch, Haleakala National Park

Oheo Gulch, Haleakala National Park

Oheo Gulch, Haleakala National Park

Oheo Gulch, Haleakala National Park

By the time we decided to leave Oheo Gulch to hit the Piilani Highway back to West Maui, it was 2:30pm. This is where the highway starts to get real hairy. The pavement disappears at places, and the road climbs to the cliff side, as it navigates Lelekea Bay. The mountain side is literally held by chains on the right at places, to avoid falling rocks from hitting the motorists. The hairpin bends are completely blind, but there is almost no traffic. If in doubt, honk. This road is not so bad; there are worse roads in the world that I have been on.

A rocky beach at Lelekea Bay past Oheo Gulch

A rocky beach at Lelekea Bay past Oheo Gulch

A bend on Piilani Highway near Lelekea Bay

A bend on Piilani Highway near Lelekea Bay

Looking back to Piilani Highway near Lelekea Bay

Looking back to Piilani Highway near Lelekea Bay

Once you have successfully navigated the sheer cliffs, blind curves, and unpaved roads, you reach Kaupo. The landmark of Kaupo, at least as seen from Piilani Highway, is the Kaupo general store. This being Christmas, it was shuttered. Thats a pity, cause I heard that they have a large collection of antique cameras.

Kaupo Gneral store, Kaupo

Kaupo General store, Kaupo

Next, by the wayside is the St. Joseph’s Church. You cannot miss it. It sits by the ocean, in its splendid isolation, and makes for some great photographs.

Facade of St. Joseph's church near Kaupo

Facade of St. Joseph's church near Kaupo

The next few miles on Piilani Highway are partially paved, but bumpy. The unpaved part is perhaps smoother. But, this is perhaps the most photogenic part of Piilani Highway in the afternoon sunshine.

Rough paved section of Piilani highway near Kaupo

Rough paved section of Piilani highway near Kaupo

Looking at cloud-covered Haleakala from Piilani highway near Kaupo

Looking at cloud-covered Haleakala from Piilani highway near Kaupo

The beautiful part of Piilani Highway ends in some five or so miles, but the bad bumpy road continues for a few miles more. Meanwhile, we had a small stopover at the Nuu Bay, which had not much to offer but a black rock beach. There was a rumbling sound of lava rocks tumbling in the ocean waves and hitting each other underwater. We decided to stay out of the water, and drove on to see the Lava sea arches (or Natural Bridges by other accounts) by the roadside a few miles ahead.

Rocky beach at Nuu Bay on Piilani Highway

Rocky beach at Nuu Bay on Piilani Highway

The natural bridge near Nuu Bay

The natural bridge near Nuu Bay

Somewhere after the arches, the road sudenly became paved for a full 50 feet, and then turned unpaved again. But not for long. Soon the road was fully paved, but without any shoulder, which made stopping anywhere difficult, or even dangerous. We were approaching an area marked on the map known as “Virginia’s Place”, and the road was climbing uphill in a wild up and down, winding kind of way. But we were getting closer to the south-west corner of East Maui island. It was about 5pm by this time. From the road you could see the cinder cones from the last eruption of Haleakala (circa 1790). They made a beautiful sight against the setting sun.

Roadside grass flowers in afternoon sunshine close to Virginia's place along Piilani highway

Roadside grass flowers in afternoon sunshine close to Virginia's place along Piilani highway

Cinder cones near Virginia's place along Piilani Highway

Cinder cones near Virginia's place along Piilani Highway

The road, meanwhile, was getting crooked in all kinds of strange ways. Here is a picture of the road at Mile 17 that tells the story.

The croocked mile near Virginia's place on Piilani highway

The croocked mile near Virginia's place on Piilani highway

It was about sunset by the time we reached Ulupalakea. There was a beautiful orange glow all over the western sky, and so we decided to stop by the wayside and enjoy the sunset from our perch some 3000 ft above the ocean.

It was a glorious sunset over Maui.

Sunset over Molokini island

Sunset over Molokini island

More images of Maui, Hawaii are here.

( Author: Amit Basu )

  1. J-dog February 12th, 2011
    0:28 EST

    Sounds like you had a great time, we’re planning on going soon and taking the road backwards, starting from the south and looping back towards the north…i figure less traffic and will provide a unique experience.

  2. Linh February 18th, 2011
    5:37 EST

    I’m waiting to read your continued story on the way back to Lahaina. I will travel to Maui for the first time next month. I get useful information from your blog. Love almost your pictures. Thanks for sharing them.

  3. Steven Devol February 27th, 2011
    23:20 EST

    Just saw your blog post a few hours after making the drive along Pilani Highway. I couldn’t agree more. I have no idea what all the hand-wringing is about this highway. Granted, you need to be prepared and hold off if the weather’s bad, but otherwise it’s a walk in the park. What unpaved road? There were two or three patches of dirt road, the rest basically mottled asphalt that makes for a bumpy ride. I’ve driven many a dirt road in the Mojave in rented cars that were many times more dicey than this drive. Your photos are great! I regret not stopping more to get pictures. Got a few shots at St. Joseph Church. Thanks again for the great post and pictures.

  4. Amit Basu March 1st, 2011
    12:26 EST

    @Linh: The road from Ulupalakea to Lahaina is not half as beautiful or exciting as the drive on the Piilani Highway. So I am afraid there is not much to write about that part of the trip.

  5. Amit Basu March 1st, 2011
    12:30 EST

    @Steven: I agree. The Piilani Highway is a dream ride with minor bumps. Just don’t drive it after a major rain storm, or at night.

  6. Kelly Fitzgerald March 26th, 2011
    22:58 EDT

    Hi Amit, I just came across your blog. Thank you so much for the post on the Piilani Highway. Thank you for sharing your images and for all of the information. I hope to make the trip in the very near future. Cheers!

  7. Harley January 22nd, 2012
    15:35 EST

    The problems with this road are overstated. Assuming there was no heavy rain, leave Hana around 4:00pm to ensure you make it to the 2 lane section by dark… although it is less than an hour of problematic driving… also if you leave by 4:00pm there are fewer vehicles coming towards you… drive slowly and be cautious on narrow turns. The gravel portion is minor. Half way through the drive the vegetation disappears and it is much easier to see ahead of you… only problem is that the driver needs to focus on driving and can’t look out window. A jeep is unnecessary.

  8. Dan March 5th, 2012
    1:05 EST

    Great post. Such an amazing drive. Love your photos. I wish we would have stopped a bit more to see some of the great sites you did, but we were determined to hike the Pipiwai Trail.
    Those two rocky beaches look awesome.
    Thanks for sharing, its been great seeing this place again.

  9. Rajeev March 8th, 2012
    15:24 EST

    Did not know about Piilani Highway! We took the regular road to Hana. Awesome writeup and photographs Amit!

  10. Marianne April 17th, 2012
    16:10 EDT

    Thanks for the info! We are going to Maui next week and I wanted to drive the road to Hana backwards. I was unsure of the safety, so thank you. One question… If we leave Lahaina at 5:00 am get on the Piilani hwy right after sunrise, do you think that will be ok? How long does it take to drive that stretch to Oheo Gulch? Thanks for your help!

  11. Amit Basu April 17th, 2012
    21:12 EDT

    @Marianne: If you leave Lahaina at 5am, you should be at Oheo Gulch by 10am, even after the usual stops at all the spectacular vista points along the way.

  12. Marianne April 18th, 2012
    13:03 EDT

    Thanks Amit!!

  13. Ben May 1st, 2012
    14:25 EDT

    Awesome pics Amit and thanks for all the info.

    Let me know if im crazy, or if its actually plauisble to do this.

    My wife and I are going to Maui in a couple weeks and we are staying in Wailea.

    We are thinking of waking up in the morning and taking the road to hana, stopping along the way etc, and then for the drive back taking the back road back to Wailea. Can we get this all done in one day? Say if we leave at 6am from Wailea?

    Also, we are renting a jeep, is that bad or good for these roads?

    And no, i havent checked with the rental company if its ok to drive that stretch.


  14. Amit Basu May 1st, 2012
    21:18 EDT

    @Ben: You can do Wailea - Hana - Wailea (via Piilani Highway) in a day quite comfortably, provided you start by 6am. A Jeep would definitely be better on that road than a regular sedan.

  15. Jim M May 22nd, 2012
    23:42 EDT

    Good evening!

    Man, I wish we had been as smart as you guys. Our first time to Hawaii, my mother and father had been before. There were 6 of us in the trip in a Dodge Caravan. We started out in Laihana (where our ship was tethered) and drove to a Subway to grab lunch for our trip. Our plan was the Road to Hana, look at some scenery, and eventually end up at O’heo Gulch. It was an awesome drive (even in dry season) and enjoyed every minute of it. We then proceeded to look at the gulch, and my crazy mother decided to take the hike up the mountain. 2 mile hike (each way), no big deal (except the end where your crossing a small river over rocks) and enjoyed the 400-ft Waimoku Falls. We then hiked back down.

    This is where it got fun. We had wandered around pretty late and gotten back around sun down. My mother had always wanted to take the southern route, and with her GREAT sense of direction told us to take the southern route as it was aparently shorter than going back the way we came. She said it was rough for a few miles, but then became highway. This could not be further from the truth. So, I drove Piilani Hwy AT NIGHT in a minivan with 5 other passengers. It took us a little over 3 hours to get back down to Laihana lol. At the time it was a little nerve wracking overlooking 50 foot cliffs into the ocean, and we got stalled by a herd of cows that decided to take over the road, but all in all it was not terrible. Just be sure to take your time and go nice and easy. Especially in the part where the road floods out and a river forms and they warn of DEATH on a road sign. That was a new one.

    All in all, not that bad and glad I got to experience it. However, next time, I will drive it in the daytime lol.

  16. Thiago De Rose August 21st, 2012
    15:50 EDT

    Fantastic review from the Piilani Hwy, the best I´ve seen! I´m going to Maui next month on honeymoon, a simple question for you: is it ok to do the Piilani Hwy on a convertible Mustang? Thanks and congrats for the website!

  17. Amit Basu August 22nd, 2012
    1:22 EDT

    Piilani Highway on a convertible Mustang? absolutely! Actually its a very common car on that road, especially a red one.

  18. Pam Sampert October 31st, 2012
    18:34 EDT

    We just did this drive yesterday!! We did see quite a few cattle on the road after dark! So be careful. It was a great drive. Not scary at all after driving Hwy 30 around the western part of Maui!! That was a white knuckle drive for sure!! But worth it also.

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  20. Houston Jones January 26th, 2013
    19:43 EST

    Great Stuff… thanks everyone! But i still have one question i’m not sure of: Google Maps says it’s a 2:07 drive from Travaasa Hotel in Hana to the Kahului Airport (OGG). Assuming good weather, no stops, in early morning, do you think that’s accurate? (It’s 62 miles via the Piilani Hwy.) We would, of course, stop a few times, but I’m trying to estimate actual drive time to be sure we can drop off rental car and catch an 11:30 flight to Kauai.

  21. Will February 25th, 2013
    15:05 EST

    My wife and I drove this yesterday in an awesome rainstorm. While it was a little hairy at points we only had to share the road 3 times with passers-by. Just make sure you honk around the blind curves it definitely helps for the 1 car you will not hit because you did it.

  22. Lorie March 8th, 2013
    11:15 EST

    We also drove this exquisite highway. I agree, it’s just not that bad, and was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done. To span tropics to the desert southwest and you come around the south, and those vistas! We stopped at one point, and a car pulled up. A couple with two young teens in the back. They wondered how far they should go and we strongly encouraged them to go further. But the teens, they both had their heads down, looking at electronics. Oh, what they missed!

    Anyway, this drive is very doable and very very beautiful! Nice writing, by the way!

  23. Yi March 15th, 2013
    23:48 EDT

    Your pictures are beautiful, and thank you for the information! I know you had said a jeep/SUV is recommended, but is it doable with a mid-sized car?

  24. Amit Basu March 16th, 2013
    2:07 EDT

    Yes, of course you can do the Piilani Highway in a mid-sized car, provided there have been no major rain-storm earlier.

  25. Von Tom May 14th, 2013
    2:56 EDT

    Just a couple of days ago we drove the Piilani/Hana Highway counterclockwise, starting and ending at Kula, in a convertible Mustang, roof down. It was a very nice drive and the car was fine. Over the partially paved/patched road we did about 15mph comfortably. There were a couple of sections of road that looked like they will flood with moving water so, as said before, don’t drive if it has been raining. The cliff drive was over before we knew it - not bad at all - go slowly and honk around the corners. We saw one accident on the Hana Highway, one rental and a local’s ute had sideswiped each other on a damp road. It’s just a matter of taking it easy and not going too fast. One thing we didn’t expect to see were mongooses running across the road!

  26. sparrowpatrick June 19th, 2013
    23:23 EDT

    Amit great writing. You have convinced me if your not a pro travel writer/blogger you should be
    Mahalo, Patrick

  27. P Melton July 2nd, 2013
    2:55 EDT

    We did it! I was so nervous. When we started out, I had a big lump in my stomach. We had heard all the same warnings over the years, but today, we loaded up the kids and went. I did call the ranger station first to get a report on the road, they said it was open. What a beautiful, breath-taking drive. We took the Piilani Hwy both up and back and I will have to say that the road in, toward Oheo Gulch was a much more scenic drive than the drive back to town. I am glad my husband was driving because I could not take my eyes off the views. We are from Washington State and if you have ever driven over Chinook Pass or any forest service roads, this is comparable in places but not any worse. The main challenge we ran into was a few other drivers that were going a bit too fast on some narrow roads. The drive itself was much more enjoyable than the actual destination, Oheo Gulch. It was crowded and not that exciting. I had heard this in the past, but just had to see it myself. If you get car sick like I do, you might be able to enjoy this drive. There are some windy, bumpy parts, but it was not that bad. Just make sure to stop every now and then to take pics and enjoy the view and you should be fine! Amit, thanks for your blog, it gave me the courage to try this, and I am so glad!

  28. Sam August 27th, 2013
    21:47 EDT

    Great post and beautiful pics…just wondering if the regular economy car will be fine or there is need for atleast V6 vehicle?? Is it much harder to driver there in comparison to road to Hana??

  29. Amit Basu August 28th, 2013
    1:23 EDT

    @Sam, It’s not really all that much harder, except for stretches that does not have pavement. A regular car will do, unless, of course there had been some major rain-storm.

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  31. Arvinder September 18th, 2013
    11:08 EDT

    My wife and I were in Hana this past weekend and decided to take the back road to the Airport to avoid the Hana relay and tourist traffic on the R2H. Your blog post was encouraging and I’m glad we did the Pilani highway. The drive was incident free and fairly easy and the sights were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. You didn’t miss much in the Kaupo general store though. The owner there was the grumpiest and least friendly person we encountered in all of Maui.

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  33. Mary Jane October 26th, 2013
    12:38 EDT

    My husband and I are going to go to Hana mid-Nov. We will do the Hana Highway drive from the airport to Hana, spend the night in Hana and then go on the big adventure - Piilani Highway! The day we do the Piilani Highway we need to leave Maui for the Big Island. I was looking at a 6:00 p.m. flight out of Maui. Based on your vast experience with this area is this doable? We will get on the road early - probably no later than 6:30 - 7:00 a.m. If you think we need to get on the road earlier - that we can do.
    Thank you for your blog and your pictures - very beautiful and informative. Kudos to you and keep up the good work. Thanks again-MJ

  34. Amit Basu October 26th, 2013
    19:58 EDT

    Yes, you can definitely drive the Piilani highway in the time you mentioned. We did it in less than 7 hours (Hana to airport) with a lot of stops for taking pictures and enjoying the scenery.

  35. Morts November 3rd, 2013
    17:09 EST

    Excellent information from everyone, especially from Amit

  36. Morts November 3rd, 2013
    17:38 EST

    to P Melton…Do you still have the ranger contact information you called ahead before your drive for the current Piilani Hwy condition as per your comment above. Thks so much.

  37. Morts November 4th, 2013
    4:12 EST

    If we stay in Kanapali area, can we make it to Hana on Hwy 360 and back on the Piilani Hwy in one day. Is this a doable one day plan? We haven’t booked hotel yet, so we can book hotel near Paia and start our trip early the next day. With either plan above, is it better to do the Hwy 360 to Hana and back on the Piilani hwy in the clockwise direction or do opposite in counter clockwise direction by starting with the Piilani Hwy to Hana and back on Hwy 360? We thought benefit of the counter clockwise direction is that there will be less traffic since most people probably do the clockwise direction or not do the Piilani Hwy at all. Any other difference between the 2 choices, e.g.view difference, etc.?

    We may stay the second night in Paia again after we finish the road to Hana nd Piilani Hwy so we can get up to Haleakala Summit to see sunrise. How long does it take to drive up from Paia to the summit? What time do we have to start driving from Paia to cath the summit sunrise an dis it worthwhile?

    After visiting the summit, we will then head to Kanapali via Hwy 340, the winding Kahekili Hwy. Any idea how long will it take to drive from the Haleakala summit back to Kanapali this way? I read Amit’s blog about the Kahekili Hwy and it seems like it worse than the Piilani Hwy and more people are against driving that HWY. Is it really that bad?

    Thks so much in advance

  38. Amit Basu November 4th, 2013
    12:15 EST

    I think it is possible to do the Kanapali to Hana and back in one day, except that the driving may get tiring for one driver, given the windy nature of the roads. You can go clockwise or anticlockwise, there is really not that much of traffic to make a difference.

    Paia to Haleakala is an hour, or two at most.You should consider catching the sunrise, definitely.

    Kahekili Highway is definitely a more challenging drive, because of narrow one lane roads. You should be prepared for uncomfortable backing up your car up a cliff. Give yourself some four hours from Kahului to Lahaina, including stops.

  39. Jane November 7th, 2013
    3:50 EST

    Hi! So glad I found your blog. In Maui now. Will do the R2H this Friday and stay in Hana overnight. Saturday we will be hiking Oheo Gulch and want to take the Piilani Hwy back to the airport. Our flight leaves at 10 pm. If we want to be at the airport by 8, what time do you think we should leave Oheo Gulch? Thanks so much in advance!!

  40. Amit Basu November 7th, 2013
    11:54 EST

    @Jane, You can possibly do Oheo Gulch to airport in 4 hours, but I would keep 5 hours because the highway is so beautiful, and there is so much to see on the way.

  41. Jane November 7th, 2013
    12:55 EST

    Thanks Amit! Will let you know how it goes.

  42. Carolyn December 25th, 2013
    0:15 EST

    First of all I love your pictures. It was refreshing to see what it looks like dry. Our experience was less photographic but rather hand gripping, I was hand gripping myself to his belt buckle as we set out rounding these corners on a rented Harley. Yes I said Motorcycle. My husband always wanted to rent one on vacation and I sent out for a once in a lifetime adventure. That is what we got. I suppose it would have been remarkable scenery but what we saw and went through was pure hell. It didn’t start out that way. We were enjoying all the incredible sites first hand on a motor vehicle with no windows or any distraction. We were one with nature. We decided to continue going after we missed our turn off to the ponds. I had been there some 30 years ago and it was not like it is now. But good thing we did, knowing how hairy the road was going to get, but we didn’t count on rain. And boy it hit around the time when the road actually became a paved nice road. But our joy soured quickly when we were drenched head to toe with sheets of water cascading like water falls across the roadway. He is an experienced rider, and it paid off. As he watched the road in front I called out the oncoming raging water. With my helmet pulled low over my eyes and glasses just off my nose I was barely able to see through the road ahead. As we continued at a very slow pace, and what seemed like hours, we didn’t look where the water was going or up and where it was coming from, we were praying. I gripped so tight my fingers had indentations on them, I was in pain for three days from what felt like the worse workout I ever had. Several times we came close to going over, but God has a different plan, we thought it was our time though and vowed never to temp fate again should we live. For two days we looked at each other and said “did that just happen”? My advise, please don’t go this way, if you still find you want to make sure there is no storm approaching. In our case we did check and double check, however this was an unexpected storm or should I say Monsoon. You should always expect the unexpected make sure you have an experienced driver and always listen to what others have to say. We have had the pleasure of sharing this story with locals and they too are amazed how we lived.

  43. Mike January 13th, 2014
    18:44 EST

    I will be visiting Maui for the first time in a few months and have been thinking of taking the Piilani highway from Hana to Makena. If i take this back road route, do I have to go all the way back up to Kahului like Google maps says, or is there a cut-through that will take me from highway 37 to Makena rd.? Either way the trip will have to be done; it looks awesome!

  44. Robert February 16th, 2014
    17:55 EST

    My wife and I drove the Pi’ilani Highway in late January. At first I was reluctant because of all the messages on various forums warning that the road is very difficult, likely to damage cars, forbidden by rental companies, etc. Then I saw in a guidebook, “Maui Revealed,” that all those presumed prohibitions are a myth.

    I looked further. Sure enough, Alamo had no restrictions about taking that road. It’s a beautiful road, generally smooth and wide enough. It has dazzling views of ranchland on one side and the ocean on the other. The road is lightly trafficked and largely undeveloped but hardly isolated. If we’d broken down, another car would soon have come along to take us to a phone.

    The only caveats are: There are a few blind curves, so honk as you approach them. There’s a stretch that’s not paved, but it’s only about 9 miles long and is well-maintained — no potholes, washboard surface, or any other impediment. I’d suggest taking the road west from Hana, which allows you to be on the inside lane for your entire Hana excursion.

  45. Payal K March 13th, 2014
    19:41 EDT

    Hi Amit,

    Your pictures are inspiring. My husband and I are planning a trip from Lahaina to Hana via piilani route. Stay overnight in Hana and then on our return journey take the more known hana highway. We are not expert drivers. Do you think the drive is too difficult? What would be the best time to start on day 1 and day 2?

  46. Amit Basu March 13th, 2014
    19:49 EDT

    @Payal, no, the drive is not difficult. Just make sure that you drive safe: do not drive after a big rain shower or storm, drive during daylight hours, honk at blind corners (yes, it is ok), and watch out for livestock on road, and you will be fine.
    Enjoy your Maui visit!

  47. Richard Van Manen March 21st, 2014
    23:07 EDT

    Just got back from Maui, and did R2H and Piilani. I personally enjoyed Piilani more, but I would recommend doing them in that order since you will be hugging the mountainside rather than the cliff drop off about 95% of the way going that route. Piilani is really only challenging the first few miles after Oheo Gulch, and if you drove the back road from Lahaina to Kahalui, those first few miles are similar, but the rest is a cakewalk and the views should not be missed! It was dry when we did it earlier this week, no experience in wet conditions

  48. Robby Rouillard May 12th, 2014
    23:27 EDT

    My wife and I leave for Maui in about 36 hours and we plan on hiking the Pipiwai Trail on our first full day on the island. We are staying in Kihei and plan to drive straight to the trail either via Hana Hwy or Piilani Hwy, do the trail and then take which ever route we hadn’t taken earlier on the way back. We want to allow for a few stops to soak it all in after our hike. We plan on getting on the road around 7:00am. Would you suggest the traditional clockwise journey (bypassing the stops on Hana Hwy) or counter clockwise (bypassing stops on Piilani)? And I believe I read in previous posts that this can all be done in a day, correct? And we are not insane for attempting it? :)

  49. Amit Basu May 12th, 2014
    23:55 EDT

    @Robby: Given you are doing a circular route, it may not matter much which way you travel. Just make sure you have some four hours of daylight after the Pipiwai trail, in order to drive back. Enjoy your travels!

  50. Robby Rouillard May 13th, 2014
    0:27 EDT

    Thank you Amit, so thankful I found your site before we go. If there were 2 or 3 “must sees” along that circular route that we will travel, what would you recommend? If we leave Kihei in either direction at 7:00am I figure we have roughly 12 hours to play with.

  51. Amit Basu May 13th, 2014
    1:38 EDT

    @Robby: I would suggest the Keanae Peninsula, Waianapanapa state park, and Oheo Gulch.

  52. Ed Leonard May 23rd, 2014
    16:21 EDT

    Great blog. Look forward to this drive. Doesn’t sound as half as bad as the drive on the North side of Maui between the Nakalele Blowhole and Wailuku( hwy 340. I live in the Rocky Mt’s and am used to driving up and down narrow roads in the mountains, but that drive will scare the #$%&* out of most people!

  53. Zverina June 9th, 2014
    3:19 EDT

    Very nice travelogue. The photography is exceptional and I especially appreciate your attention to proper place names. I live in Kaupo and Pi’ilani Highway is my fortnightly commute to the Big Town (Kahului) for bulk provisions. It’s a drive that gets better every time I do it.
    I link to this page from zverina.com/2014/0602.htm

  54. Marco December 16th, 2014
    1:05 EST

    Love the bog, and the pictures especially. I am so glad I found the information here, it was very helpful in my planning the Maui vacation.

  55. Tiling February 4th, 2015
    18:44 EST

    Great post.

  56. Mike A. February 12th, 2015
    14:52 EST

    Thanks very much for the pics, info, and courage-instilling words. I’ll try not to get more drunk than usual before I attempt this drive.

  57. Bill F. February 18th, 2015
    18:11 EST

    Took this road a few years ago (against my wife’s wishes). There are some narrow dirt sections and blind curves (honk). We saw no gas stations or other services. The only scary part was a jeep full of locals driving in a crazy way on a road that is often just bigger than one lane. It was one of my two favorite things on Maui. The other being the bike ride from the top of the volcano to the sea.

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