Believe it or not, road-tripping in Hawaiʻi is a thing! It just rarely involves being behind the wheel for more than a hundred miles. Seek out the Hawai‘i road trips less traveled and you could find yourself cruising stunning coastlines, winding through rolling countryside hills, or pulling into the overlooks of breathtaking valleys, waterfalls, and canyons. While enjoying views and landscapes unique to our amazing collection of islands, please drive with aloha by following speed limits, respecting warning and informational signage at overlooks, and parking only in designated areas.
Kaua‘i: Waimea Canyon and Kōkeʻe State Parks
Did you know Kaua‘i is home to the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”? It’s called Waimea Canyon. And you’ll want to make sure you take a mini-road trip of the canyon’s overlooks, beginning in the charming westside town of Waimea and traveling scenic Waimea Canyon Drive. The road will take you past lower-elevation lookout points before the main Waimea Canyon State Park overlook and its breathtaking views of the breadth of the canyon and Waipo‘o Falls. Waimea Canyon Drive continues further up into the cool mountain forests of Kōkeʻe State Park, ending at the Kalalau Valley Lookout where you can get a glimpse down one of the valleys along Kaua‘i’s famous Nāpali Coast. There are numerous trails in both Waimea Canyon and Kōkeʻe for beginners and seasoned hikers as well.
O‘ahu: Windward Coast and North Shore
Trade Honolulu’s cityscapes for a day of driving and exploring the island of O‘ahu’s verdant Windward Coast and beach-filled North Shore on Kamehameha Highway (Route 83). The two-lane highway winds alongside the foot of the verdant Koʻolau mountains and the coast’s picturesque shoreline, with lots of great stops along the way, including Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden, Kualoa Regional Park and Mokoliʻi Island, and ‘ono (delicious) lunch and snack stops, food trucks and fruit stands. Save some appetite for stops at Kahuku and Hale‘iwa towns’ popular garlic shrimp trucks and take time to stop at the North Shore’s world-famous beaches and surf spots. In the surf town of Hale‘iwa, you’ll want to hop out of the car and explore its main street shave ice stands, funky boutiques, assorted eateries, and surf shops. To avoid traffic and crowds, make this trek on a weekday.
Maui: Upcountry Maui to Haleakalā
Many Maui visitors wake up early every day to drive in the dark of the early morning to the top of dormant volcano Haleakalā for the iconic sunrise view from its crater-like summit depression. The experience is indeed mesmerizing. But you can experience the same road trip up Haleakalā Highway to Haleakalā National Park during daylight hours to explore the rest of the park’s scenic wonder and multitude of hiking trails with less of a crowd. You’ll begin your journey in the rustic, farm-filled upcountry Kula district, where you can opt to join in on a variety of farm tours and explore the area’s botanical gardens. As the highway gains elevation climbing Haleakalā’s slope, you’ll take in sweeping views of Central Maui as well before hitting the trails.
Island of Hawai‘i: Hāmākua Heritage Corridor
You can take a memorable day trip while driving and exploring the Hāmākua Heritage Corridor. The beautiful drive alongside the sea cliffs and lush rainforests of the island’s Hāmākua Coast begins in the east side town of Hilo and ends at the Waipiʻo Valley Lookout. Along the way, you can visit several waterfalls, including Waiānuenue (aka Rainbow) Falls and ‘Akaka Falls, tour the biodiversity of Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve and Garden, stop at stunning sea-level Laupāhoehoe Point, and dine at local eateries in Honoka‘a town. The Heritage Corridor road trip finishes a few miles north of Honoka‘a with a breathtaking view of Waipiʻo, a valley deeply rooted in Hawaiian history and culture. Stopping to take in the view up top at the lookout is recommended, but please note that driving or walking down from the lookout into the valley via Waipiʻo Valley Road is strictly prohibited.
What Hawaiian Road trip sounds best to you?
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