If there’s one Hawai’ian island you plan to drive on, it’s probabaly Mau’i! Its famous Road to Hana, iconic Haleakala Sunrise, and gorgeous hikes are all best-visited in your own car. Check out my best tips for driving on one of the most popular islands in the world.
You Will Need a Car
In a few places, on a few of the Hawai’ian Islands, you can get by without a car. You can Uber where you need to go, take tours, or just stay at your accommodation the whole time. But if you want to experience the real Mau’i, like a local, you will definitely need to rent a car. Make sure you budget accordingly, and check out my Best Tips for Saving BIG on Your Trip to Hawaii to help!
Read next: The Ultimate Guide to Romantic Mau’i
Check Your Distance and Time Estimates Before Setting Out
This is true of any unfamiliar place you visit. You never really know what traffic will be like, or how long it will take to drive there, until you check! For instance, if you’re staying in Wailea and planning to catch the sunrise at Haleakala National Park, you’ll need to plan for over an hour and a half of drive time! If you’re staying in popular Ka’anapali and planning to drive the Road to Hana, it’ll take you nearly an hour just to get to the beginning of the Road! Always check before you get in the car.
More here: The Ultimate Mau’i Bucket List
Pull Over on the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is about the journey! This is truly a stop-and-go route, and your best bet is to plan on parking and exploring in lots of places all along the way. There are plenty of pull-off spots and parking areas around scenic overlooks, so take advantage of them.
Most importantly, don’t stop in the middle of the narrow Road to Hana and take photos, blocking the cars behind you. It’s not okay! And if you’re admiring the scenery and driving very slowly, pull over to let the cars behind you pass. They’ll thank you for it!
Read on: The Top 10 Stops on the Road to Hana
Only Honk at Blind Corners, but Only on the Road to Hana
It’s rude to honk in Hawai’i. It’s too aggressive, and the locals don’t do it. But, it’s important for your safety to honk before rounding a blind turn on the famous Road to Hana. Be kind, honk short, and yield to those already coming around the corner. Drive with aloha!
Keep reading: The Best Tips for Driving the Road to Hana
Etiquette on One-lane Bridges
A few Hawai’ian islands have one-lane bridges, so it’s important for visitors to know what to do and how to use them appropriately. On Mau’i, it’s customary to let 5-6 cars cross from the opposite side, then 5-6 cars cross the bridge from the other side. Don’t jump the line if you find yourself in the 7th car position–it’s not nice! Make sure cars are across and the bridge is clear before you start to cross yourself.
Don’t Void Your Rental Car Agreement
Everyone’s allowed to take their own chances, but in the age of GPS, it’s important not to drive where you shouldn’t! When we rented our car, we were given a map and strict orders not to drive where the red arrows were located. The Hawai’ian islands may be paradise, and they are definitely trip-of-a-lifetime material, but they are truly rugged. It’s dangerous to you and your car to go off-roading in a vehicle without 4-wheel drive!
Afternoon Rush Hour
There are basically two lanes just about anywhere you drive on Mau’i, with very few, short-lived exceptions. There are also not a lot of alternate routes. If there’s an accident, you’re stuck. If you’re at the back of a long line waiting for a stop sign or stoplight, you could be waiting anywhere from 20-40 minutes (or more) for your turn to go! The mornings are usually not as bad, so I’ve been told, but the afternoons get quite busy. (one of many good reasons to start early, even on vacation!) Rush hour lasts from the 3:00pm hour until about the 6:00pm hour, so plan accordingly!
Read next: What to Know Before You Visit Mau’i
Want more? Get everything you need to plan your Hawai’ian trip of a lifetime on my dedicated Hawai’ian Islands Page!
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