Are you wondering how long to drive around Maui? You’re in the right place. In this post, I’ll review what you can expect behind the wheel on Maui and the 7 scenic drives you should consider. Read on.
I’ve had the privilege of living in Maui for the last five years and have been able to explore most parts of the island. It’s an incredible place with so much to see and experience.
This Hawaiian Island is chock-full of scenic views, white sandy beaches, and lush rainforests.
You’ll want to have a car to make the most of your time. You might be wondering how long to drive around Maui, what to prioritize, and what the roads are like. In this post, I will tell you all about it and more.
How Long to Drive Around Maui?
Even though Maui is the second-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, it’s still tiny.
This is great because you can make every excursion into a day trip— although you can always spend a night or two on a different side to really soak up all it has to offer.
You’ll find other drivers have plenty of aloha. Once you’re done reading this article, you’ll be prepared for everything the Valley Isle can throw at you.
🚗 Can You Drive Around the Entire Island of Maui?
Yes! A large percentage of the island of Maui is undeveloped and, consequently, not accessible by car.
However, you can drive all along the coast and do an entire loop of the island. You probably don’t want to do a whole Maui loop in one day— but it is possible.
Driving around the entire perimeter of Maui would take about 9-10 hours, not including stops.
Each side of Maui is unique and gorgeous.
You’ll want a fully charged camera, whichever portion you explore.
🚗 How Long is Maui in Miles?
Maui is a grand total of 48 miles long. The second largest in the Hawaiian islands is a land area of 735 square miles.
That makes it about the same size as Delaware or Rhode Island.
🚗 Is it Easy to Drive Around Maui?
Yes! Maui is easy to drive around. The roads are typically in good condition and well-marked. Like most places, you’ll experience some traffic during rush hours.
Some roads in the more mountainous regions require technical driving and can be scary if you’ve never driven on single-lane, windy roads.
However, the aloha spirit that Hawaiian culture is famous for extends even to the roads. Drivers are friendly and kind. Remember to throw out a friendly shaka when someone lets you merge!
🚗 Do You Need a 4WD Car to Get Around Maui?
You don’t need a 4WD car to get around Maui. I drive a regular sedan and have done each scenic drive listed below without problems.
If you can’t get the idea of a jeep out of your head— don’t worry, you won’t be alone! Driving a jeep in the lush jungle to Hana is quintessential Hawaii.
So, while you might not need the 4WD, it’s still fun to have.
Most Scenic Drives on Maui
It’s not hard to find a scenic drive on Maui— pretty much every drive is scenic.
Even the stretch of Pi’ilani Highway between Kahului and Kihei offers views of the West Maui and Haleakala!
Choose from the iconic top three if you only have time for one or two.
1. Road to Hana
It’s hard to hear “Maui” without hearing about the Road to Hana! It’s considered one of Maui’s top attractions.
You’ll follow the Hana Highway around the base of Haleakala to the small, isolated town of Hana. (It’s pronounced like “Hah-nah,” not “Hannah.”)
The road is only two lanes wide and goes through a lush rainforest. You’ll pass over one-lane bridges, waterfalls, hikes, cliff-side lookout points, gorgeous beaches, and some of the best ice cream on the island. (I’m looking at you, Coconut Glen).
The drive is gorgeous! What truly makes it a fantastic experience is all the stops you’ll make along the way.
👉🏽 How Long Does it Take to Drive the Road to Hana in Maui?
If you were to drive straight to Hana from Kahului, it would take approximately 2 hours.
Don’t let the 50-mile distance fool you; budget a whole day for this experience.
Depending on how many stops you want to do and how long you want to spend at each spot, you’ll want at least 9 hours.
The last time I did the entire loop, it took my sister and me 12 hours!
We had a fantastic time— we stopped at multiple waterfalls, did a hike, hung out on a beach, and got delicious vegan ice cream.
👉🏽 Is the Road to Hana Safe to Drive?
The Road to Hana is safe to drive! It’s paved and well-marked. It’s a challenging drive, though, so go prepared.
The road is two lanes wide and twists and turns a lot. Over 600 turns, to be exact! You’ll also have to cross 50 one-lane bridges.
East Maui gets the heaviest rainfall of the entire island, and chances are high that you’ll get some rain while you’re over there.
If driving doesn’t sound fun to you, you can always consider a tour! Plus, you’ll learn from an experienced tour guide, and no one will have to be stressed about driving.
If you drive yourself, watch for a souvenir t-shirt with the words “I survived the Road to Hana.”
👉🏽 Is it Better to Do the Road to Hana Backward?
I started on the backside the first two times I did the Road to Hana!
This means that instead of starting in Paia and heading towards Hana, you’ll begin in Kula and pass through Ulupalakua.
The benefits of doing it this way are hitting some of the most popular sites before the crowds. Think Pipiwai trail and the 7 sacred pools before a big tour group arrives. Yes, please!
Don’t do the backside first if you’re set on trying the famous banana bread from Aunty Sandy’s or visiting one of the two arboretums. They both close in the mid-afternoon, and you could miss them.
You should consider two other things when deciding what direction to go first. One is your rental car agreement. Some parts of the backside are rough, and some rental cars aren’t allowed there.
Secondly, if you’re going to be driving back around sunset, the views on the backside of Hana are gorgeous.
It’s the dry side, and the rolling hills of Haleakala are stunning during the golden hour. (Which, if you want to see, you should start in Paia!)
👉🏽 Should I Drive the Road to Hana or Take a Tour?
This totally depends on what kind of traveler you are! Do you want to have a stress-free adventure and get to soak in all the views?
Or would you like to have more control over your stops and the timing of your trip?
If the thought of driving the road to Hana takes away from the fun, then definitely book a tour.
👉🏽 Best Stops Along the Way
I have so many favorite spots and end up with a new one every time I go. Here are my top don’t-miss recommendations!
✔️ Ke’anae Peninsula
Just past Mile Marker 16, the Ke’anae peninsula is at the end of a small road. You’ll pass the famous Aunty Sandy’s stand as you head down. (They have some of the best banana bread on the island.)
Park at the end of the road by the Ke’anae Congregational church (made from lava rock and coral in 1856!).
The lava rock on the rugged coastline and the gorgeous waves make this one of my favorite stops.
✔️ Wai’anapanapa State Park
If you’ve wanted to see a black sand beach, Wai’anaoanapa is your stop! It has gorgeous sea arches, lava tubes, panoramic views, and small hiking trails.
This park is located at mile Marker 32, and you’ll see plenty of signs as you drive towards it.
You do have to make reservations to enter the park, so make sure to plan ahead! It costs $10 per vehicle and $5 per person to enter (although both are free for residents).
✔️ Pipiwai Trail / Seven Sacred Pools
Part of Haleakala National Park, the PIpiwai trail and Ohe’o Gulch are 10 miles past Hana.
The Pipiwai trail is an incredible hike that goes through a stunning bamboo forest and ends at the 400-foot Waimoku Falls.
It’s one of my favorite hikes. Don’t be intimidated. The hike is straightforward and is 3.6 miles in total.
2. West Maui
The West Maui Circle drive is a severely underrated drive. It’s got breathtaking views of the ocean, valleys, waterfalls, and stunning volcanic cliffs.
Like the road to Hana, parts of this drive are narrow, winding, and steep. Honk when going around a blind corner!
Due to the tragic fires in Lahaina Town on August 8th, 2023, the west side of Maui is mainly closed. However, the northern shore is still open so you can explore parts of the West Maui loop.
When heading to the West side, be respectful and kind. The local community has walked through a horrible tragedy and lost so much.
👉🏽 How Long Does it Take to Drive to the West Side of Maui?
Depending on where you’re starting from, the drive to the West side of Maui takes approximately 40 minutes to an hour. On Maui, that’s considered a long drive!
👉🏽 How Long is the West Maui Loop?
The West Maui Loop is approximately 65 miles long. If you were going to drive straight around, It would take a little more than 2 hours.
Of course, you could spend an entire day (or more!) exploring the area.
👉🏽 Best Stops Along the Way
While I rarely head over to the West Side of Maui, I love making the following stops!
✔️ Cliff House
I don’t enjoy cliff jumping very much, but I still love going to Cliff House.
It’s an eye-catching cove with stunning rocks, gorgeous water, and several fantastic spots to dive into the ocean.
On calm days, it’s a fantastic spot to snorkel. I love hanging out on the back rocks and reading a good book.
✔️ Kapalua Coastal Trail
This serene walking trail has terrific views of the ocean, Molokai, and Lanai. It’s an easy trail, perfect for all skill levels.
You’ll walk through a variety of different terrains. Check out the soft, sandy beaches and soak in the lush plants and cliffs.
Pro Tip: Head here for sunrise or sunset for the best views!
✔️ Nakalele Point / Blowhole
The Nakalele Point and Blowhole are both located just before mile marker 38. You’ll see a small parking lot and a little sign that says “Blowhole parking.”
For a superior view of the blowhole, hike down 20 minutes on the path to get up close and personal. Don’t feel like hiking? You can still see it from up top!
3. Haleakala Summit
Haleakalā, Maui’s dormant volcano, accounts for 75% of the island’s landmass! With a summit elevation of just about 10,000 feet, it’s also the highest point in the entire island.
The summit is reachable via Haleakalā highway and offers stunning island views as you drive up to the top.
Plus, it’s a culturally significant location. Many areas within the park are reserved and protected for Native Hawaiian use.
You will have to purchase a parking pass to enter the park. The summit is most stunning at sunrise (reservations required) or sunset.
Don’t be fooled by the hot weather on the rest of the island— the summit of Haleakalā can be incredibly cold. (Did you know it can snow in Hawaii?!)
Bundle up and dress warm! Swimwear won’t cut it at the summit.
👉🏽 How Long is the Drive Up to Haleakala?
The drive up to Haleakala takes at minimum an hour and a half, but from most towns, clocks in closer to 2 and a half hours.
The last 10 miles are slow going- you’ll be heading up a bunch of switchbacks as you make your way to the visitors center.
It’s not worth rushing anyway; the views are phenomenal on the way up.
👉🏽 Is the Drive to Haleakala Worth it?
Yes! The drive to Haleakala is definitely worth it. You’ll get amazing views you won’t find anywhere else on the island. No trip to Maui is complete without a visit to the summit!
👉🏽 How Hard is it to Drive to Haleakala?
The drive to Haleakala is significantly easier than the other two scenic drives we discussed. The switchbacks are the most challenging part— and they’re really manageable.
Feel free to take it slow if you need to. If a faster car is behind you, slip into a pull-off to let them go by.
4. Iao Valley
Iao Valley is located 3 miles west of Waiuku. Its central location means it’s one of the shortest scenic drives on this list, but if you have time, I highly recommend checking it out.
The state park is open 7 days a week. The scenery is gorgeous, with the iconic Maui mountains rising around you.
Take a short hike to the Iao Needle observation deck or dip in the cool river water.
👉🏽 How Long is the Drive to Iao Valley?
If you’re staying in Ka’anapali, it’ll take about an hour to get there. From Kihei, it’s only a 25-minute drive.
👉🏽 Is Iao Valley Worth it?
I love Iao Valley; it’s definitely worth your time. Not only is the scenery gorgeous, but it’s an important cultural spot. Stop here and learn all about the Battle of Kepaniwai.
👉🏽 Best Stops Along the Way
While Iao Valley State Park is the best stop of all, a few things along the way are well worth tacking on to the drive.
✔️ Kepaniwai Park Heritage Gardens
The heritage garden is on the road right before the state park. The entrance is marked with an impressive banyan tree. Stroll around, picnic, and even jump in the stream!
The gardens highlight the multicultural history of the island.
The buildings and tiny gardens represent Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, Filipino, and American missionary cultures.
✔️ Maui Tropical Plantation
The Maui Tropical Plantation is just outside the town of Wailuku. Take a tram tour through the plantation to learn how sugarcane and pineapples grow!
There’s a coffee shop on the property, a cute shop called The Country Market with Kumu Farms, where you can get fresh produce and other delicious treats.
If you can, eat at the Cafe O’lei at the Millhouse. It’s fantastic.
5. Upcountry Maui
To see a different side of Maui from the white beaches and lush jungles of the Hana side, head Upcountry!
Located on the higher elevations of the slopes of Haleakala, the cooler temperatures and farms make it feel like a completely different island.
Upcountry is the home of the paniolos— the Hawaiian cowboys. Take farm tours, visit a goat dairy, or enjoy Maui-made wines and spirits.
If you’re on the island through July 4th, check out the Maui rodeo for a unique experience.
👉🏽 How Long is the Drive to Upcountry Maui?
It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to drive to Upcountry. It’s an easy drive, and you’ll find the views beautiful.
Plus, there’s a variety of activities available in the Upcountry that are very different from the Kihei or Ka’anapali area.
👉🏽 Best Stops Along the Way
Upcountry has a vast, diverse number of stops to enjoy. It was hard to narrow it down to just my top suggestions!
The following are things I always take my visiting friends or family to see when they come to Maui.
✔️ Upcountry Farmers Market
Every Saturday morning, an upcountry farmer’s market is held in Kula from 7 to 11 a.m. It’s the best farmer’s market on the island.
You’ll find the cheapest and freshest produce— and some of the best food.
Don’t eat before you come! You’ll seriously regret it.
I always stop at Crema Coffee (serving locally roasted Social Hour coffee) and the Empanada Lady (Ho’okipa Empanadas are excellent).
There’s fresh fish, macadamia nuts, tropical flowers, plate lunches, and much more.
Remember to take cash with you.
✔️ Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm
This 13.5-acre farm is a peaceful activity. The admission price is $3 per person, or you can donate one non-perishable food item per person.
Wander the farm and look at 25 different varieties of lavender. I like taking a journal and a book to sit on a bench. It’s so peaceful!
I also always stop in the gift shop and buy a cup of their delightful lavender tea and a lavender scone. There are plenty of other (non-perishable) lavender products available.
✔️ Makawao Town
The historic Makawao town is bursting with paniolo history. It’s a fun place to wander for an hour or two. Check out the leather products, delicious food shops, art galleries, and boutiques.
Pro Tip: the donuts at the Komoda Store and Bakery are coveted. Snag a cinnamon stick donut before they sell out.
6. Piilani Highway
Running along the southern coast of Maui, Pi’ilani Highway (also known as the back road to Hana) is incredibly scenic.
It’s one of my favorite drives on the island, and many of my friends have told me it’s similar to the California coast.
The views of the shoreline, sea cliffs, and pebble beaches are unmatched. Driving it at sunset is absolutely divine!
👉🏽 How Long Does it Take to Drive the Piilani Highway?
It takes a little more than 2 hours to drive the Pi’ilani Highway. More if you stop more often.
You’ll pass through the towns of Pukalani, Kula, and Keokea. From there, the winding road will pass through purple-flowered jacaranda trees.
Cruise past the Ulupalakua Ranch store and the south Maui windmills to the gentle slopes of Hana.
You’ll see La Perouse Bay from above, the island of Kaho’olawe, and jaw-dropping panoramic views.
👉🏽 Best Stops Along the Way
MauiWine, open since 1974, is a gorgeous location and offers estate-grown wines. Book an advance reservation and taste the delicious vino of Hawaii.
There’s a small selection of food, wine flights, wine cocktails, and (of course) wine by the glass.
✔️ Grandma’s Coffee House
This is a favorite among my friends, a cozy cafe that offers locally-grown coffee and traditional Hawaiian breakfasts.
The Loco Moco (rice and eggs covered in gravy) is a favorite, but I always get the Eggs Benedict. It’s a great spot to fuel before heading out on the rest of your adventure.
7. South Maui
South Maui— where I live— is sunny and dry. Driving in Maui along the coast, with miles of sandy beaches and gorgeous views of the other islands, is so fun.
Depending on the swell, you may even see surfers in the water. Otherwise, paddle boarders and snorkelers take advantage of the calm ocean.
Remember to bring your (reef-safe) sunscreen!
👉🏽 Can You Drive to the South Side of Maui?
Yes! You can head past Kihei and Wailea and down to La Perouse Bay. The road ends at the bay, but there’s plenty to do in both directions, and it’s a gorgeous drive.
Dare I repeat myself and say this is one of my favorite drives on Maui? Especially the section between Makena Beach and La Perouse— it’s absolutely stunning.
👉🏽 Best Stops Along the way
Keawakapu Beach, located right between Kihei and Wailea, is a beautiful white sand beach.
It’s a half-mile long and has parking on both ends. The reef on either end makes for excellent snorkeling, and the sandy bottom in between makes it a perfect swimming beach.
If it’s windy, head to the grassy area by the hotels and enjoy the sun without getting sand-blasted.
✔️ Makena Beach (aka “BIgs”)
Technically called Oneloa Beach, Big Beach is one of the most extended stretches of sand on Maui. It’s 2/3 of a mile long and over 100 feet wide.
The water is crystal clear and can be perfect for snorkeling and swimming. If the waves are big, be careful! The shorebreak on this beach can be intense.
✔️ La Perouse Bay
Last but certainly not least is La Perouse. Drive through the lava fields past brilliant blue water, and park at the end of the road (literally).
You can explore the sea estuaries and walk through the lava towards a (very, very small) lighthouse, stopping at a couple of beaches along the way.
This remote area is strikingly beautiful and is known to be frequented by dolphins!
Driving in Maui Tips
Now that you know where to go, let’s discuss some top tips for driving around Maui.
📌 Maui Driving Requirements
You must have a valid US or Canadian driver’s license to drive in Maui.
If you’re from another country, you’ll also need an English-written valid driver’s license and an International Drivers Permit or an international driver’s license.
📌 Speed Limits in Maui
Island time is more than just a saying! The fastest you can go on Maui’s highways is 55 mph, and most of the time, you’ll be driving a lot slower than that.
In the towns, the speed limit typically drops to 35 mph. The views are great no matter where you are, so what’s the rush?
📌 Road Navigation
Maui is a simple place to navigate. However, having a physical map or downloading one on your phone is a good idea.
Many parts of the island need better cell service, and you won’t be able to access GPS using cellular data.
Services like Google Maps let you download maps and even note where you want to go. I recommend setting that up before coming.
📌 Watch Out for One-Lane Bridges
You’ll come across plenty of one-lane bridges on the road to Hana. These bridges accommodate traffic from both directions.
There’s a yield sign and room to pull over on both sides.
If you’re the only car, head on through! Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until it’s your lane’s turn to cross.
Please note that if a lineup of cars is on one side of the bridge, the whole lineup crosses at once.
📌 No Honking!
Honking at other cars on Maui is considered rude, and you’ll hardly ever hear it. In fact, most of the time, it’s a friendly beep of someone saying hi!
Save your honking for moments of emergency— or driving through the Pali tunnel on the way to the west side!
📌 Watch For Cattle on the Roads
There are plenty of free-roaming cattle on Maui. You’re bound to see several when you do the Road to Hana or drive Upcountry.
Keep an eye out for roadsigns and cattle guards! That’s your cue to be aware.
Cows tend to hand out near the roads, so slow down and drive carefully.
They’re challenging to see at night— I’ve been in a few close calls where I didn’t see one until almost the last second.
📌 Gas in Maui
Hawaii has some of the highest gas prices in the United States!
There are also a limited number of gas stations, so when going out on one of these scenic drives, always check your gas levels before hitting the road.
Ensuring your gas tank is full is a good rule of thumb.
The best gas price is Costco in Kahului. It will be the cheapest option every single time.
However, if you don’t have a Costco membership, the Safeway gas station in Kahului offers comparable prices.
📌 Parking in Maui
Street parking in Maui is free, but finding a spot can be challenging in some popular tourist areas like Paia and Ka’anapali.
Taking safety precautions is also a good idea, especially when parking in more remote areas (such as a trailhead). Rental cars are recognizable and more likely to be broken into.
Don’t leave valuables in the car; leave the windows slightly cracked.
A good rule of thumb on Maui is that you can park anywhere— as long as there’s no signage saying you can’t, and you’re not parking dangerously.
📌 Slow Down and Enjoy the Ride
Maui is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Take your foot off the gas, roll down the windows, and deeply breathe the glorious sea air.
Everything moves slower on the island— you should, too.
How Many Days in Maui is Enough?
I would argue that you can never have “enough” time on Maui, but I recommend spending a minimum of 5 days.
That allows you to do some bigger adventures and have some relaxed beach days in between.
Of course, if you have more time, you can do more!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Famous Route in Maui?
The Road to Hana is the most famous route in Maui and is an amazing road trip. It’s chock-full of adventures and breathtaking views.
What is the Death Road of Maui?
Kahekii Highway, aka Hawaii Route 340, is a narrow road along the coastline of West Maui.
It’s considered one of the most dangerous roads in the country but is incredibly scenic.
Why are There So Many Broken Cars in Maui?
There are a variety of reasons as to why there are so many broken cars in Maui. One is that everything costs more, including auto repairs.
Another likely option is that the damaged car was stolen and then abandoned.
Can You Drive to the Volcano in Maui?
Yes! The drive to Haleakala is gorgeous and offers some of the most stunning views of the valley.
How Long Does it Take to Get from One Side of Maui to the Other?
Getting from Kahului to Kihei will take about 30 to 45 minutes, but if you wanted to drive around the island, you’d be looking at a total Maui driving time of 9 hours.
What Roads to Avoid in Maui?
If you’re uncomfortable driving windy, narrow roads, you’ll probably want to avoid Kahekili and Hana Highway. They can be challenging to navigate.
Consider booking a tour instead so you can still explore those gorgeous areas.
Wrapping Up: How Long to Drive Around Maui
Given its small size, you might be surprised by how long to drive around Maui.
With so much to see and do along the way, driving is the best way to get the full experience on this lush tropical island.
Whether you choose to adventure up to the summit of Haleakala for a chilly sunset or head out on the winding road to Hana, you’ll get to experience a variety of microclimates, hikes, and more adventures.
The Valley Isle is the perfect place to explore by car!
Before You Go…
Here are some related posts about Hawaii…