A ‘Wow’ Road Trip on Maui

On our first trip to Maui a few years ago we were advised by friends who knew the island well to take two road trips while we were there.  They traced them on the map for us and pointed out the best things to see along the way.  The first was the Road to Hana which I shared about in another post (click here if you missed it.)  I was prepared for the narrow roads, one lane bridges and continual twists and turns on the Road to Hana as they are well known.

But oh that second road trip!  On the map our friend had written a single word over the route we were to take:  ‘wow.’  The ‘wow’ road runs around West Maui’s North Shore so we started from the small town of Lahaina, the historic whaling village, once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.


I took a few pictures of Lahaina Harbor but none as good as the postcard I got for my scrapbook.

When I first saw it I immediately thought of ‘Gilligan’s Island,’  though I understand the setting for the TV show came from a harbor on Oahu.

In addition to the harbor, shops, galleries and restaurants in Lahaina, there’s a giant banyan tree in the middle of town.  Planted in 1873,  it’s now 50 feet tall, nearly a quarter of a mile around with over 10 trunks that anchor it into the ground.

North and West to the Road

From Lahaina we headed past the resorts of Kaanapali and around the top of West Maui toward the ‘wow’ road. You’ll see it on the map below, where it says in red,  “Narrow Road, Drive at your own Risk.’  So that’s what we did!

And yes, they were right, it was narrow!

Fortunately there were only a few other cars on the road as who in their right mind drives here beside the locals?  The slowing below occurred due to the sale of fresh banana bread.

As we continued on we rose higher above the ocean and I became increasingly agitated, wondering what on earth we would do if a car came toward us from the other direction.

It did.

I squirmed in my seat as did the driver, my husband.

But here’s the good news. We got the inside lane and the driver coming our way realized the futility of his situation and began backing up, and up, and up until there was a small pullout.  We were so glad it was him not us.  Just in case it’s not obvious to you yet,  if you ever take this road (unlikely I realize) make sure you drive it from the west side or  you will be the poor soul going backwards near the edge of the cliff, with no guard rails.

It was fun. Yes it was, once we got past the hairy spots.  At the top we stopped at the Kaukini Gallery and Gift Shop; I bought a picture and Bob took this picture of me.

Don’t I look happy? Yes, I was.  But by then we’d had enough of the scary road and kept moving on, not even stopping for the famous Nakalele Blowhole which required a short hike under the burning sun and which they also warned people about since some tourists had been swept away by waves. (Um, I think we’ll pass.)

As we neared the other side we stopped by the lush Iao Valley and the 2,250 ft. Iao Needle where there was no lurking danger, only dark clouds.

It was as they say, a trip to remember.

Thanks for coming along! 🙂

~ Susanne

10 Comments on “A ‘Wow’ Road Trip on Maui

  1. Wow indeed. Looks like my kind of road trip. I’ll have to put that on my list for when I visit.

    • I’m pretty sure we never would have taken it without our friend’s referral. It’s definitely off the beaten path. It was amazing though a bit scary in spots! Definitely worth it! 🙂

  2. That’s impressive scenery indeed. We have many similar roads around here. If something comes the other way, we have to back up for a considerable distance to allow them past. Not quite as dangerous as your coastal road there though. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • I wish I’d taken more pictures but the best ocean views were also the scariest sections of the road and I was too busy worrying. 😉 It was a fun day and I’m glad I wasn’t driving.

  3. I encountered that kind of road in Scotland with the addition of herds of sheep to further complicate the decision to pull over. Great post.

    • It really was! A drive through old Hawaii with great ocean views and a bit of road thrill to add to the fun! 🙂

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