Beware of Driving in Northwest Maui

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This map is included in Maui Drive Guides provided/offered by the rental car companies. Note the area and warning in red with the red arrows.

I must respectfully disagree with this recent article that encourages tourists to take a scenic drive along Maui’s northwest coast, from Kapalua to Wailuku.  Is it scenic?  Absolutely!  Is it completely safe?  Not so much.

I’ve personally taken this drive and somewhere in Maui there is a yellow Jeep Wrangler rental that has the imprint of my hand and fingernails still in the arm rest.  🙂  I grew up driving on winding mountain roads, so I’m not normally afraid of that type of road, but the stretch of road a few miles north of Kapalua got my heart beating.

A few miles north of Kapalua, the road begins to narrow and at first it appears that it is not a big deal.  The road then continues to narrow and narrow and narrow.  As my husband and I unwisely drove this road, at one point we had to negotiate past a school bus that was traveling in the opposite direction.  The road was so narrow that in order to get past the bus, we had to drive the jeep onto the side of a dirt bank.  We were on about a 30 degree angle (no exaggeration!) on the side of the embankment. As much as we tried to move over to allow the bus to pass, we were still only inches away of having a few yellow school bus paint marks on the canary yellow jeep we were driving.

[Note:  At this point, you may be wondering what a school bus is doing on this dangerous road. There is a small village of about 100 people, Kahakaloa, along this drive and the bus services that area.  Believe me when I say it was very scary trying to get past this bus.]

Not only is the road narrow, winding and steep in places, it also lacks guard rails and has frequent rock slides.

The About article starts with this:

The car rental companies will tell you not to travel around West Maui’s rugged north shore. I’ve never figured out why. Although narrow and winding, the road is paved the entire way. Perhaps the problem lies more in the fact that if you were to break down, getting service would be hard plus the road can be dangerous in bad weather with flooding and falling rocks.

The Honolulu Advertiser recently wrote an informative article about this stretch of road, the warnings from rental car companies, and a recent fatal accident.  The article states:

Most car-rental companies on Maui advise customers that their contracts restrict them from traveling on Honoapi’ilani Highway past Honolua Bay. The two-lane highway, which continues on through Kahakuloa Village and into Wailuku as Kahekili Highway, was carved into Maui’s remote, rugged northern coastline and narrows to a single lane in some sections. Some portions of the highway are little more than dirt and gravel, and landslides and falling rocks are not uncommon.

If the car rental companies advise you not to travel on that road, then you assume your own risk for service, break downs, and accidents.   In the Honolulu Advertiser article referenced above, they mention the following:

An informal survey yesterday of Hertz, Budget and Dollar car- rental companies indicated that motorists are told to avoid the restricted roads, and if they ignore the warning, they are on their own as far as getting help for damage and breakdowns.

Sadly, just last week, a honeymooner who was driving his rental car on this very stretch of road plunged 140 feet off a cliff to his death into the ocean.

So, I’ll close this post with some advice.  Do drive the section of road just north of Kapalua to Honolua Bay, but as rental car companies advise, do not drive any further.  If you absolutely must drive this section of road, then do drive very cautiously, honk the horn before approaching blind turns, and make sure you have enough gas as there are no gas stations along this stretch.  An finally, be courteous to the local drivers who know the roads better than you and aren’t on a sightseeing mission like yourself.  Pull over to let them pass.

Read about other forbidden roads in Hawaii.

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58 comments
  1. Make that two sets of fingernail imprints.

    As the driver, I can say that the trip can be done, and the scenery is beautiful, but you’ll be less stressed driving the Hana highway – which is even more beautiful.

  2. I plan on traveling to Maui in March and will be flying into Kahului Airport. Our hotel is way over by Honokawai (north of Lahaina) so I’m afraid we have no choice but to drive that route. None of the large airlines fly into the West Maui airport. Do you know how long it takes to get to where we are going if we were to take Hwy 380 instead? 🙂

  3. Hi Ericka,

    The roads will be totally fine for you to get to your resort. From the airport, just make your way on the Honoapilani Hwy (30) towards Lahaina. It will take you around 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic from the airport to Honokowai.

    It would be a good idea to go to http://www.maps.google.com and/or http://www.mapquest.com and enter your starting destination as Kahului Airport and your final destination as the address of your resort. Print out those directions and bring them with you.

    The semi-dangerous road that this article talks about starts about 10 miles further north of your resort.

    Have a great time!

  4. Just got back to hotel after driving a little ways down that stretch of road—scared the befeebers out of me–glad to be ALIVE–don’t try it!

    1. Haha…yep, that’s why I don’t advise driving it and why the rental car companies tell you not to drive it.

      You were wise to find a place to turn around before getting too far.

  5. I wish I had seen this blog before taking this road from end to end. I knew it was winding before we started on it, but had no idea how incredibly dangerous it turned out to be. We ended up on this road late at night after a heavy rain. At some points I was certain we were going to plunge to our deaths. The views were nice but not worth it. Don’t take this road!

    1. Andrew – wow, that would be a scary situation. We drove it on a clear day and we were scared, but your conditions were much worse. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. We drove this entire stretch of road a couple years ago. To say that is was scary is a great understatement. We encountered a car coming in the opposite direction that we had to stop to let by. we backed our vehicle up so far into the side of the mountain, I know some of the paint rubbed off. STILL, the opposing car had just enough room to get by even though the passenger tires of his car were half off the road. We PRAYED he wouldn’t fall off the side because there were NO guardrails. It started to rain a bit in certain sections. I almost cried. By the time we finally got off the road and back into town, we all had to check our underwear.

  7. We had the same experience! I have driven many mountain roads from California to Germany and this one beats all!
    I think the flapping top on the rental jeep exaggerated the experience ! ha ha Shudder…. I remember seeing a small cross on the side of the road with no rail.
    Do you guys remember that bus parked at the turn off on the top of one curve?

    One more thing; I was taking photos by where the last of the two lane and guardrail ends and I noticed that the guardrail had massive paint and metal scrapes on it! It looked like cars had scraped along the guardrail for a long distance! Maybe someones brakes went out? Check it out when you go back!

    Dave

  8. Folks, I don’t know if it is always there but last week there was a hand painted sign right at Puelua Bay on hwy 30 that says “banana bread 2 miles”. This is a very good place to turn around, thank your lucky stars and drive back down highway 30. We thought we would go “just a bit farther” down past this point. But the problem is that as soon as you hit the one lane portion, there is no good place to turn around so you have to keep going forward longer than you will like. You can’t back up at that point without wetting your pants and the first possible spot to make a U turn is about a half mile further – a very long half mile! We high-tailed it out of there and calmed our nerves with more than a few mai tai’s at the first bar we found.

    Gary

  9. I went down this road on my trip in 08 the risk is not worth it.
    The rental company says don’t but this needs to be noted before you take this road.Very narrow and curvy.Takes twice as long to cover as going back the only other way.

  10. My wife and I went on this adventure last week. We took a helicopter tour and decided to take the northern route from the airport back to our hotel to check out the scenery. We had no idea what we were getting into until the road narrowed down to little more than a roughly paved cow path. At that point it was pretty much too late to try to turn around, so we went on. It got to the point where the only other vehicles on the road were Jeeps, and we were in a Mustang convertible! I will say that we saw some spectacular views and took a lot of photos. Afterward we were able to get a good laugh out of it, and it is a part of our vacation that we will always remember.

  11. My husband and I took this awful road last week. It was terrifying to say the least. I drove because it felt like I was in a little control If my husband drove, he no doubt would have gone faster than me and I would have been even more terrified than I actually was. The road is windy and narrow and with no guardrails, it was the worst road we have ever been on. DO NOT DRIVE THIS ROAD JUST TO SEE IT. I can tell you it’s not worth the risk. At any moment you can slide off and plunge 1,000 feet (or more) to your doom. It was horrible. Even if the car rental companies said it was ok to drive, do not do it.

  12. We took a trip via guide tour on the road to Hana. On the first or second stop high on a preciptious cliff, we did the tourist thing and then got back in the bus. A number of us were looking back for a final view when we saw 4 people, 2 young men and 2 women taking in the view. Three of them were inside the guard rail. The 4th, a woman, appeared to be posing for a picture outside the guard rail on the cliff. All of a sudden she just dropped from sight. I gasped and passengers on the bus yelled “that woman just fell from the cliff.” We could see her companions gaping over the edge.

    The bus driver said, ‘it happens’ and kept on going. Saying it happened once or twice to his tour company. Said, “it’s better to keep going so you don’t have to be a witness and if it happens to someone on your tour you have to find a way to drive to the bottom of the cliff to try to retrieve them … sometimes never finding them.

    We never did learn of the young woman’s fate.

    The tour is lovely but dangerous.

    1. Oh – My – Goodness, Pat! That is super scary as well as a great reminder to stay inside the guard rails.

      Your story reminds me of one of my own. We were recently hiking along a cliff edge in Kauai. It was a really tiring hike and I stopped to take a drink of water. I must have been really exhausted because as I took a sip of water, I closed my eyes and as I did that I almost fainted. I was dizzy for a couple of seconds….all while I was just inches from falling off a cliff. Thank God I didn’t loose my balance!

  13. I do off-road driving on dirt roads so this one didn’t phase me much. I just finished driving it today and there are a few nasty places for passing but overall there are turn outs you just have to be very aware of your surroundings. I was always watching when cars were coming down the other direction and mentally making notes of turn-outs as I passed them. We had one nasty pass but the guy remembered his turn-out and backed up. The positives is taking the only route other then the SE route from Hana that you can get away from tourists and the scenery is awe-inspiring. It has been my favorite drive of the trip and if I come back to Maui, I will definitely drive it again.

  14. I think the State of HI and the rental car companies do a lousy job at warning you of this horribly dangerous road! Enterprise did not warn us, when I complained upon returning the car, they told me I should have read the courtesy map. Really?

    My husband and I wanted to see the island and went for a drive. We avoided the road to Hana because of the roads and one lane highways and bridges were were told about. Instead we drove from Wailea north around the perimeter of the island. The views are spectacular and the roads becomes narrower. You can see parts of the mountains carved our to accomodate cars turning on inside lanes. The further we went, the more falling rocks we saw. A warning of what was to come. Then suddenly, you turn a corner and find yourself on a very narrow one lane road that winds along side the mountain. When I say narrow, I mean about 5-6 ft wide, enough for a golf cart or a burro, not a car. By the time you realize what has happened, you cannot back up, you must go forward. On one side of you, you have a mountain that you find yourself hugging with your car. The otherside is a drop..no guardrail to protect you. You are forced to continue to drive up a mountain side until you reach a outcove with a convience stand. TURN AROUND! The drive back was just as terrifying. I am very afraid of heights, so it was quite a challenge to balance dizziness, and feelings of passing out and throwing up and driving for my very life!

    When we reached the narrow two lane road, we looked back to see a simple 6″ by 10″ sign that said “narrow road.” Really, that’s it. There should have been a much, larger sign that warned not to drive or proceed without risk of life.

    Never, never again.

      1. Just had the EXACT same experience today as Dana. NOTHING has changed since the 3 years she made that post. I have driven around the Big Island with no issue and this was my first trip to Maui, so since it is part of the US I figured if there was an issue with a road there would be an understandable warning sign, right? Wrong. That same “narrow road ahead” sign is there, which, btw is the same sign that pops up earlier on that road when the road barely gets smaller and remains 2 lanes….there is NO warning that it becomes one lane until you make a 45 degree blind turn and wham, it is now one road.

        Part of the problem is from what i can tell the locals do NOT care that “non islanders” (or non maui or Oahu folks) will find the lack of a warning to be an issue, hence why Enterprise gave Dana an attitude or why when I just discussed this issue with a local bartender while having a drink, rather than just concede that spending the couple thousand or so to put up a meaningful sign, he instead blamed the same tourists that bring in business to this island for “not asking for proper directions from the locals” or “you should read a map” ( as if the maps would be reliable anyway)…at the same time conceding that their state capital island doesn’t have a “major highway” that has this kind of issue (and I can confirm, since I did it, you can drive around the big island with good signage and no such issues).

        It’s pretty sad IMO that a sign saying “SINGLE LANE AHEAD FOR (insert number) MILES IN 1000 FEET” is not there, and that “you stupid tourists” is the theme of the day for that area.

        1. Btw just to clarify: I do not mean all maui residents do not care, but something tells me if the attitude of more than half did, a proper sign up there would be placed.

          Also, just to clarify, I drove around the Big Island ( no such issues experienced there as on this road), and was told that Oahu did not have such an issue either.

        2. Well, this blog post and comments were extremely enlightening! I was just on that road today and was sooooo tempted to go just a little further, because the views were really starting to heat up. But once I saw the ‘road narrows’, my gut told me not to take a chance.

          Always listen to your gut. Or better yet, I’m pretty sure it was God!

          The rental car place did not warn me about this road. I even asked them if I should be driving that way to the Napili area from the airport, and he simply said, “Oh no, go the other way, it’s less winding and much quicker.”

          I’ll be having a chat with them when I return my car…

  15. I am just back at 9.00pm today from driving this road. It was raining and it was dark. If you are not extremely confident about your driving skills, don’t go down this road especially in the dark.

    Well, I enjoyed the thrill but it was little too much for my wife.

  16. I went to Maui in November of 2010 and ended up on this road. I was using my GPS (which is pretty useless in Hawaii) and thought I’d just go straight around the North West corner of the island to get home quicker. It wasn’t really quicker and there was not anything worth seeing either. It’s just a narrow hilly road. There are no places to stop and nothing really of note to see at all past Kapalua.

    If you are thinking that you must travel on this road don’t even bother. It’s just not worth the risk.

  17. I just did this drive today, completely agree with the article. Difference is that I had my 6 month in the back, which is still giving me shivers as I sit comfortably back in our Kihei condo. I am planning on writing Frommer’s and telling them that if they continue to recommend this drive that they will be contributing to the deaths of poor unsuspecting tourists. Traumatized.

  18. Drove this road today. No warning from anyone including Alamo when I rented the car. I will definitely continue to have nightmares after this harrowing experience. Things like this shouldnt even be legal in the US.

  19. I must say the route from (or to) Honolua Bay to the airport is not only more scenic, but much less crowded and dangerous that the road to Hana, which ends at a general store and little else–unless you want to visit Lindbergh’s grave to the east of “downtown” Hana. Mid-point on the road from Honolua is a great art gallery. Views are spectacular and I had no trouble driving the many times I have taken the road, mostly after surfing Honolua Bay and driving to Kahului. Tourists are discouraged from driving from Hana the rest of the way around the Island to Kihei a couple of years back due to the highway’s disruption from an earthquake, and the poor state of repair.

    Don’t be worry-warts because someone says it’s dangerous! Try driving L.A.’s freeways for a real thrill!

  20. We stayed in Maui in June while on Honeymoon and we acciently ended up driving on the Kahekili Highway in our rental car. Nobody had told us about it in advance or warned us how potentially dangerous it was. In fact the very pleasant rental company rep (Budget) advised us to enjoy driving around the island that way. You really have no idea how narrow it is going to become until it is too late to easily turn back.

    I’ve read many of the comments above and yea, it is certainly a very dangerous road. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exhilarating but I was a rather tense at the time and I would consider myself for the most part a confident and experienced driver.

    As it happens we ended up driving the entire length of the road. Some sections of the road feel quite safe but there are many sections where the road is barely wider than the car we were driving, with cracked edges, no fence, blind corners and then you meet oncoming traffic which makes for some rather tense reversing/passing. We swapped some rather concerned expressions with a couple of fellow tourists coming in the opposite direction as we carefully attempting to pass each other without falling to our doom or scraping the car against the mountain.

    There should definitely be a mechanism to pre-warn people about this, whether at the rental dealers or perhaps provide some better road signage to let drivers know what they are in for as they approach. There are a couple of sections on the road that are genuinely quite frightening and while driving them I was able to far too easily imagine plunging the couple of hundred feet over the side.

    In reflection, it was a lot of fun and now that it has passed and we are home safely it is a wonderful memory for us of our honeymoon and the time we spent in Maui. That said, it almost certainly wasn’t worth the risk and I doubt we would have done it had we realised what was in-store in advance.

  21. We drove on the Northern side as well, wasn’t aware that the road narrowed down to one lane at some places though it’s supposed to be a 2 lane road, it was too late to turn around. Was thankful we had rented a compact car, no warnigs whatsoever from the rental car company – HERTZ. I had read about the back roads on the drive to Hana but that was nothing when compared to this. Thank goodness we had enough sense to drive on the montain side and to drive on it during daytime, realized I had been gripping the passenger side arm rest so hard only when it started aching so bad the next day. It was our last day in Maui when we drove down this road and I had nightmares for over a week after getting back home, would get up in the middle of the night with such bad dreams that it almost nearly spoiled our vacation memories, but Maui was one of the best islands though compared to the other 3 islands. The views were really good and you won’t get to see some places such as the blow hole on the way unless you get on this road but unless you are a skillful driver and love adventure and don’t care about living or dying then this might be the road to Heaven for you :)…LoL

  22. My husband & I drove this road by accident. Our rental car company never told us to avoid any roads, and when we asked at the hotel about driving this road on our return to the airport, the desk clerk assumed we meant a small regional airport and told us we’d be fine.
    Thankfully, we left for the airport very early and it was a clear day. Previous posts have not exaggerated one bit. We kept assuming the road would broaden, that we must just be on a “bad patch”. We encountered 10 vehicles coming the other way, which caused us to pull up on to the cliff side of the road. We had to go 5mph around some of the astonishing turns..hairpin is too tame for what these turns were like. Once ahead of us, we saw a pickup truck barreling down an interior side road that must have inclined 35 degrees. Clearly, the driver was a local, very familiar with the road because he flew down that road. We did encounter a school bus, but we could see it approaching and managed to get to a spot where the road widened a bit before the one-lane bridge.
    The vistas were spectacular, but I’m not used to being 18″ to 24″ from an eroding edge of a cliff several hundred feet above the ocean with no guardrail! It was a memorable trip, both beautiful and heartpounding, and totally unforgettable. When we go back to Maui, we will NOT be taking that path again. There really should be signs warning the innocent traveler of how dangerous the road is.

  23. Drove that road last year, I have never had to put so much concentration into driving before in my entire life, and I have driven many times in the Scottish Highlands into the middle of a blizzard with zero visibility.
    When we hired the car there was no mention at all from the hire company of any roads to avoid, so it was quite a shock during some of the crazy blind turns. Luckily I drive a lot for work and am a very confident driver, but even then it was quite a nerve wracking trip. My advice, just go slow, and don’t go alone, so if you have to back up, the passenger can help direct you.

  24. I got caught at 10:30 at night, no warning, girlfriend was readib
    ng map. It got so tight that it was no bigger than a mule trail. Many locals told me most people will not even drive this path, not to be mistaken for a road

  25. I wish I read this post before doing this drive, I would recommend no one to make this drive unless a local, all of the comments are exactly how I felt, scared, concentrated like never before and my wife still doesn’t forgive me, lol.

  26. Thank you for the article and the comments for validating my feelings. I felt exactly the same way as many of you posted above. We drove this last week with my husband and 4-year-old son in a large SUV. At some points I had to close my eyes so I wouldn’t be overcome with anxiety. It is not an exaggeration to say that I truly felt at some points that we might not make it out alive. The sheer cliff edge just inches away from your tire edge means that with the slightest slip of the steering wheel, you could be plummeting off the edge of the cliff. And then imagine many miles of this (I think overall it took us 2 hours to get through this section of the highway).

    We had no warning, no guidance or any idea what we were in for when we went on our “exploration drive.” We told our son to keep absolutely silent so Daddy could concentrate on driving. A harrowing experience that I am still getting over. Reading this article and the comments feels like a support group of survivors who have lived to tell the tale!

  27. We were just in Maui and the running family joke is “let’s go North above Kapalua and see if we can get to the Costco!” Yes, it’s a sick joke because we made the same mistake everyone else has reported years ago (my in-laws tell me it used to be a DIRT road!). It never ceases to amaze me, that here in the United States, such an obvious need for more warnings is needed. I don’t get it and probably never will, but it is what it is!

  28. I too wish I had read this blog before heading down this road. Once I realized the danger it was too late to turn back. At one point a local and I were both on the road. He was heading down and he very carefully guided me backwards down so he could pass. I was inches away for the cliff with rain coming into the car. I prayed to just get back to a normal road at one point wanting to stop frozen with feat and anxiety. I pushed through it because it was moving forward or backing up and the road I had just come from was far too dangerous. DO NOT TAKE THIS ROAD. There were so many rock slides I was sure at any moment I’d be crushed or have no choice but to back up. At one point the road had eroded to the point I had to negotiate the car over the sinking road praying I did not catch a wheel in the hole created by the eroding ground. I will NEVER do this again and if you’re reading this and are curious, do yourself a favor. DO NOT TRY IT.

  29. This past week, three Swedish women were incredibly fortunate to escape with their lives when their car went off the edge of this road and it tumbled down 80 feet before coming to a stop. For more information, search the Honolulu Advertiser for the story.

  30. Let me share my story about navigating this incredible road. My wife, I and 16 year old twins left our Kaanipali hotel and headed south, bound for Hana. After fueling the rental just down the road I looked at the map and said to my wife….why don’t we go the other way, north, to get to Hana. We’ve never tried that way before.

    So away we went….blissfully unaware of the hazards that awaited. We did enjoy the exceptional scenery. Truly amazing. What is frightening and dangerous is the road itself. I had no idea this was like this. Multiple times I foumd myself ha king the lord himself that no traffic was approaching from the other way. The road was THAT narrow and the idea of possibly having to back up scared the bejesus out of me. I was never happier to make it to the other side. I can only say…as tourist do this if and only if the weather is good. And-importantly – be sure to go from south to north- clockwise. This so if you do encounter oncoming vehicles you can hug the mountainside versus hanging the wheels over the edge.

    After this we did go to Hana and continued past Haha all the way around the island back to Kaanipalii. 9 hours of driving but some of the most amazing scenery one will ever see.

  31. David from Buffalo: I respectfully wholeheartedly disagree. No tourist should ever drive this road, ever, good weather or not, small car or big, north or south, this road should be banned permanently and unless you are some nutty thrill seeker who likes cheating death, STAY AWAY!

  32. We visited Maui in October 2014. I wanted to drive this road totally unaware of the narrow road that was to come. Although it was very narrow with a mountain on one side and a cliff on the other it is the one thing I will remember most from our trip. Stop often to take pictures because the driver will not get a chance to take their eyes off the road and sometimes will need the passenger to look ahead for traffic. My wife and I drove it from Kannapali to Kahului. Clockwise is the way to go. You keep the mountain to your right instead of the cliff. You may have to back up to a pull off spot to pass. Take your time and honk around blind corners. There are a lot of blind corners and one lane bridges. It is dangerous but worth it in my opinion. Very scenic. I actually enjoyed better than our guided tour of the road to Hana and beyond (which was also great)

  33. My wife, son and I were in Maui a week ago, July 22-25, 2015. The last day of our trip was an unexpected driving adventure. On the last day of our trip my son got up early and got on the road at 3:30 AM and drove up to see the sunrise on top of Haleakala. It was about 1:45 minute drive in the dark from Waliea. After paying the $15.00 (cash) National Park entrance fee the number of switchbacks increased until we suddenly reached the parking lot. It was almost full when we go to the top about 5:15 AM. After watching a spectacular sunrise above the clouds and checking out the Visitor’s Center / Shop we headed back down to see the hairpin turns we had driven up in the dark. After exiting the park we were surprised to see many bikers coasting down the mountain. This is one of the activities heavily advertised on Maui. The bicicylists were all intermingled with the many sunrise viewers making their way back down the volcano in their cars. This could easily turn into a tragic situation. We saw a group of cyclists around one individual and soon saw an ambulance making it’s way up the mountain.

    After returning to the hotel for our noon time checkout we were looking for something to do before our 10:30 PM flight back to the mainland. After driving down to Kahului glanced at the map and debated on driving to Hana, but thought it would take too long so we decided to drive to Lahina for an early dinner taking State Road 340. After having just driven the switchbacks up the Volcano that morning, this looked about the same. The first few miles were very enjoyable with great views. Then the road got narrower and narrower and the turns got sharper and sharper. There were many places where 5 mph was too fast and you were driving blind around curves on a one way road hoping that someone was not coming the other way. We encountered a dozen or so cars along the way, some were tourists who were driving just as cautiously as we were and then there were the locals who drove like it was a one way road in the direction they were driving. We stopped at a few pull offs to take pictures of the beautiful vistas, but for the most part was I too focused on the road to look anywhere else. After a few miles my wife looked at the map we got from the rental car company and noticed in bold red letters, “DO NOT DRIVE BETWEEN THESE POINTS – Driving on unauthorized roads violates rental car contract.” At that point we decided just to continue, but to our dismay the road only got worse and we passed one abandoned and burned out car. After another hour of driving we approached the top of a hill and to our surprise we saw a sign for an Art Gallery and were surprised to see cars in the parking lot. We stopped just to take a break, but was pleasantly surprised by the variety of art, jewelry and other items made by local artists. When we spoke with the owner she told us we only had a couple of more miles of the narrow road and to check out the blow hole at mile marker 38. We reluctantly got back on the road and carefully maneuvered the last couple of miles of the narrow road. Once we got back on the two lane state road the driving got a little easier. We stopped to see the blow hole and then into Lahina for an early dinner and a drink. We are glad we got to drive the road and feel lucky to have made it unscathed, but would NOT recommend it to anyone.

  34. Responding to some of the comments: the rental car companies don’t owe you a warning, or an explanation, concerning how dangerous this Maui road is. They have no obligation to plan your trip for you. They have nothing to do with your traveling choices. The rental car companies owe you only one duty, to furnish a safe working car at the allotted date.

    Hawaii is wild. Many areas are challenging, some dangerous. Tourists die every year on all the islands. Wake up, take some responsibility, do your own research.

    1. Jack,
      Your point is good, but in none of the books we researched or websites we checked was anything mentioned about not driving on certain roads. There were no signs posted, other than “Road narrows” posted on a paved 4-lane road. I’m grateful this site has been posted, but given that visitors are unfamiliar with the terrain, I welcome rental car companies issuing warnings. I just wish ours had given us one.

      1. To be fair, the rental car companies do have a warning in the drive guide maps that they provide. The prohibited areas are clearly marked on the maps.

    2. When they limit the coverage of their own insurance that they sell, they’d better tell me. Went in 2003; drove on that road because of the map THEY gave me but I overlooked the fine print (“our insurance will not cover you if you drive here”); and nearly had a heart attack. Btw, my friend made the same mistake, broke her axle and was out $3,000.

  35. I am a fifty something old, so I’ve traveled a bit and I’m also not a young risk taker. But this road was a blast! Last time I went to Maui I took this road (Easterly – away from Lahaina) and it was one of the highlights of my trip. My teen boys and I enjoyed it – and ended up at King’s BBQ in Wailuku, also highly enjoyable. I used to be a tour bus driver in Alaska and I’ve driven in left side countries and many countries in Europe. For heaven’s sake – it’s not that bad. But if you are used to interstates… it’s not that. Going back soon

  36. I did it in a convertible in 2003. This updated map has red arrows. Back then My stupid map had a tiny black font footer warning that was overlooked. I put the top down as rocks were falling. Thinking it would take 20 min, it took 3 hours. Oddly, there were farms on the mountain side. Imagine my horror on this one way road from hell as a truck came in front of us…panicking we motioned for him to go back. I wasnt about to go backwards and fall off the sheer cliff 500 feet up in the air in those violent waters. Holding our breaths in panic, we finally made it to safety and I kissed the ground in Napili. My friend from law school told me she too drove on this cliff and broke her rental car’s axle. #roadfromhell.

  37. My husband and I drove this yesterday (first time in Hawaii) and LOVED it! We can’t figure out how it’s scaring people. Yes, it’s tight at times, and yes, it’s very close to the edge…but it’s BEAUTIFUL and we found everyone driving respectful and cautious. We can’t seem to figure out why folks are making this stretch of road out to be something it’s not. We loved it! (doing Hana backwards tomorrow!)

    1. I agree with you Serena. It was 10x better than the Road to Hana. I also agree with others that there should be signs and information informing people that it’s not for the light of heart, but it should never be shut down or illegal.

  38. My husband and I have driven the North side of Maui twice. We love it! And both times with a convertible. I’m confused about all the exaggerated negative comments?? Yes, it’s narrow at some points, yes, you have to go slow, but it’s a breathtakingly beautiful drive! There’s an adorable town nestled back there, with a church, a few houses, and a quaint little pink trailer, where a elderly local woman sells ice cream cones! We will do again when we return to Maui this summer!

  39. I count my decision to ignore the “Turn Back Now!” signs as one of the two dumbest things I’ve ever done in my 61 years. It was 25 years ago that I drove the road with my wife and young daughter in a rental Jeep. To this day we talk about how scary and stupid it was. Advice to anyone who considers it…just don’t do it. I agree that it should not be closed but there are just too many other, much safer, ways to spend your time on this beautiful island.

  40. My daughter lives in Maui and on a visit in August 2018 her husband wanted to take us to a great hiking trail off this road. He forgot to mention that he had been on a a scooter at 6:30 in the morning when he made the trek to the trailhead! I let me daughter in the passenger seat for her motion sickness, and I have never been as freaked out on a road as that trip! As we inched along, after turning around at the banana bread place, my son-in-law got out to try and direct the cars who were within a fraction of an inch of scraping each other. I truly wanted to get out, but I would literally have gone over the side of the cliff. My husband moved 2 inches to the right and the front tire slipped down the shoulder. When we got to the Olivine Pools and were able to relax, some other tourists told us that 3 cars had been smashed/scraped up, attempting to get around each other on that horrific road. I am glad to hear from others with the same experience – we are not crazy!

  41. I just drove this (April 2019) in my rental 2wd Nissan Altima and in my opinion it was totally fine and beautiful. Almost got scared off by this article and I would have missed out. If you have any experience driving narrow mountain roads you should be fine. You DO have to watch out for oncoming traffic and plan wisely to pass each other. I can see it being sketchy in bad weather though.

  42. Just did this road. Yeah it was sketchy and my girlfriend was freaking out but we managed. Didn’t have to deal with a school bus. I would just like to know if road to Hana is easier so I don’t have to pay for a guided tour. Just want a perspective of someone who has driven both in the span of a week

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