Maui, also known as “The Valley Isle”, is one of the islands of the Aloha state, Hawaii. Being the second largest Hawaiian Island, Maui showcases the island’s highest peak Haleakala National Park, the sacred Iao Valley and pools, waterfalls of the Ohe’o Gulch, and world famous beaches. Driving through the infamous Kahekili Highway and legendary Hana Highway on East Maui is hair-raising and unforgettable!
Highway 340, referred to as Kahekili Highway, is as scenic as the famous Hana Highway. This rugged scenic route is usually overshadowed by the popular Hana Highway. This cliff hugging one lane road is narrow, meandering, and has many blind curves and drop offs with no guard rails. The infamous Kahekili Highway offers picture perfect views of deep lush green valleys, rugged coastlines, stunning sea cliffs, gorgeous pools, powerful blowholes, and the list goes on.
These photos are from a memorable drive on Kahekili Highway on 8th October, 2016.
Quick Facts and tips
- Best time to visit
- Weather and good deals: Apr to May, Sep to Oct. Dec to Mar is better, but could be expensive
- Fly into
- Kahului Airport is the main airport and has direct flights from the U.S. mainland
- Kapalua Airport (west side) and Hana Airport (east side) are other smaller commuter airports
- Honolulu International Airport, then take a short, 35-40 minute flight to Kahului or Kapalua Maui Airports
- What to Expect
- Beautiful Beaches, Waterfalls, Lush Green Gulches, Blowholes, Sea Cliffs, Natural Pools, Tropical Flowers, and Fruits
- Weather is warm, so pack lightweight casual t-shirts, shorts, sundresses, tank tops, capris, skirts, swimsuits, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, rain gears and a light jacket for the cool evenings
- Be sure to check Maui County Official website for traffic alerts and current road closure before heading out.
- There are not many gas stations on Kahekili Highway so have the gas tank filled before you hit the road.
- Important to follow the mile markers.
- Weak/no cell phone signal, highly recommend to have maps downloaded or printed.
- Renting a small car is a better option over big vans or SUVs. It is difficult to navigate the big vehicles on this very narrow, barely one lane wide but two-way traffic road.
- Roads are narrow and winding with no guard rails, drive slowly and park only in parking lots.
- It is better to start from the Lahaina/Kaanapali side as you will be on the inside of the road along the cliff, not along the edge. And this gives the advantage of looking farther ahead of oncoming traffic
- Start early, avoid driving in the dark and rainy day as the roads may be slippery
- There is a lot to capture, so keep your camera ready. Make sure that the camera is fully charged and also keep backup batteries and memory cards. Remember to stop every now and then to take in the views.
- Bring food, plenty of water, changing clothes, sun protection and prepare yourself if you have motion sickness.
- Makena Big beach
- Pros: Perfect Orange Sand, parking and lifeguards
- Cons: No showers, only port-a-potties
- Popular Attractions
- Nakalele Blowhole Hike: The hike features a natural oceanic blowhole that shoots water up to 100 feet in the air. The 0.6 mile round trailhead is located between mile marker 38 and 39 on Highway Kahekili near Wailuku. Since there is no real trail, the hike down to the blowhole takes a little longer and climbing back is harder. The boulder backed dirt parking area has limited parking spots. Wear sturdy shoes as the trail is very rough and rocky with uncertain footing. The trailhead has no water or restrooms.
- Ohai Loop Trail: 1.2 mile loop trail located between mile markers 40 and 41 on Highway 340 (Kahekili Highway) near Lahaina. It is a short and easy hike rolling through lush green hills and features the picturesque Kahakuloa Head and the northern shore. It is named after ʻOhai plant, one of the many species along the trail. The trailhead has no services and the parking area has room for about 5 to 6 cars. The trail is rough, so sturdy shoes are appropriate.
- Olivine Pools Trail: Offers dramatic deep tidepools sitting on the lava rocks at the ocean’s edge. The contrast of cerulean blue water pools and black rocks makes it more beautiful. This 0.4 mile short moderate trail down to the pools located near mile marker 16 on Kahekili Highway near Wailuku. The hike offers stunning views, but take extra caution as the rocks are sharp and can get slippery. Wear sturdy shoes.
- Kahakuloa Bay Overlook: Offers picturesque Kahakuloa bay with the lovely Kahakuloa village, the stunning 636 feet high volcanic dome Kahakuloa Head towers over the deep blue ocean, lush green valleys, and the black sand Kahakuloa Beach. Lookout is near mile marker 16 and has countable parking spots.
- Waihee Point Lookout: Roadside scenic pullover that offers a beautiful view of central Maui with endless rugged coastlines and sea cliffs.
- Waihee Beach Park: It is a quiet and great little park with pleasant ocean views. The parking is at end of the Halewaiu Road. Picnic tables, outside showers, restrooms are available.