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How challenging is the drive?

Montreal, Canada
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147 posts
13 reviews
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How challenging is the drive?

I keep reading about the curves and one-way bridges and am getting worried.

How bad is the drive? All the drivers in our group are seasoned, confident drivers but where we live, the roads are quite straight and flat.

What is the average driving speed?

Where can I find more info about driving the Road to Hana? I would like to do more research before actually deciding to take this trip.

What is the best reference tool (CD, iPhone App)? I have to find out if the app will work on my Canadian phone. Maybe I have to buy a SIM card when I get to Hawaii so I don't pay roaming charges?

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379 posts
27 reviews
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1. Re: How challenging is the drive?

It's not that the drive is difficult. It just requires a lot more focus and attention than anything you're used to. It's just kind of grueling -- narrow road, lots of turns -- that's why it's good to stop and explore along the way. It's only 45 miles from Paia to Hana, but you'll swear you've driven 150 at the end. You're going 15-20 mph a lot of the time.

I'll let someone else field the questions about resources. We've read books, but at drive time, just got in the car and drove.

Edited: 22 September 2013, 18:14
Kapaa, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Maui, Hana, Oahu
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48,630 posts
3 reviews
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2. Re: How challenging is the drive?

There are over 600 curves and 59 one way bridges. The road isn't hard but does take concentration. This is a two lane road that goes around Haleakala. Speeds are on the low side, marked at 25 mph most of the way.

You can start by looking at the Top Questions on the right hand side of this page. You can't see them on a mobile device so if that is what you are using let me know!! The best resource IMHO is Hana: Mile by Mile by JC Derrick who used to be a Maui DE years ago. I hear the GYpSy Guide that you can rent on Maui is also a great resource to use during the drive.

Toledo, Ohio
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388 posts
30 reviews
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3. Re: How challenging is the drive?

I had heard it was hard before we went....we are from ultra-flat, ultra-boring NW Ohio! And truly, this road wasn't "hard". It was FUN. Have you ever driven near mountains? If yes, you know how they curve around? Well, that's kinda like this. But, really, really beautiful. You end up driving really, really slowly! We always let people behind us go around so that we could go as slowly as we wanted. It was spectacular scenery that I am glad we didn't miss. Go slow....Maui time! And enjoy the drive. Stop along the way (that's what the CD or gypsy app tells you is where there is something cool to see).

Do it!!

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
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19,535 posts
254 reviews
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4. Re: How challenging is the drive?

My best advice to avoid fatigue (because of what the others have said) is to stop often. We had so much fun because of that. We stopped at banana bread stands, huli huli chicken barbeque set up on the road, every pull-out for a waterfall or scenic overlook. I loved starting the RTH with a long walk through the Garden of Eden botanical garden. Plan a picnic lunch at Wai‘anapanapa State Park hawaiistateparks.org/parks/maui/index.cfm…

The fact that you are stopping often, walking, etc., means the driver gets to rest and focus on other things, making the drive less tiring.

If there is more than one driver in your group, that helps a lot, too.

You will be driving very slowly, so the curves and bridges are not a problem. Just please be sure to keep you eye on the cars behind you. Whenever you can, use a pull-off to let faster drivers pass you.

Nanaimo, Canada
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26,113 posts
98 reviews
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5. Re: How challenging is the drive?

If you can handle it, get on google street view and drive it from your living room! It makes me nauseous, trying to use it, and I can actually handle driving the REAL road much better!

There are most likely some you tube videos that you could search for and see it that way as well.


Here is one to get you started...

Edited: 22 September 2013, 19:50
Montreal, Canada
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147 posts
13 reviews
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6. Re: How challenging is the drive?

Thank you for the awesome replies!!! I am getting more excited about this trip.

Any suggestions of what time of day to start the drive?

We are staying in Kahana and would start from there.

I assume early morning is a good time but interested in hearing your opinions. Thank you!

Destination Expert
for Ka'anapali, Haleakala National Park, Maui
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61,933 posts
18 reviews
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7. Re: How challenging is the drive?

The earlier, the better. I would hit the road no later than 6 AM.

Los Angeles
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15,783 posts
58 reviews
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8. Re: How challenging is the drive?

I just did this last week and I would guestimate that once you reach the part of the road where the drive becomes challenging, you'll average no more than 15-20mph. As far as the challenge of the drive, the main things are:

a) road has lots of twists and turns - mostly not too bad though there are a couple of hairpin turns - for the most part the road is not next to sheer dropoffs (or if it is, you won't realize it while driving it)

b) the famous, one lane bridges - this wasn't so much of a problem - just see if there are any other cars and yield to the other guy if they got there first

c) parts of the road that are one lane in each direction, but barely so - this was the most "interesting" aspect of it because there are some segments that are wide enough for two cars, but only barely, and some people will risk more to squeeze by than you might ordinarily be comfortable with.

That said, if you're prone to motion / car sickness, I'd probably not take this road. Otherwise, just concentrate on your driving and you'll be fine.

Tacoma, Washington
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1 post
12 reviews
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9. Re: How challenging is the drive?

Yes I would leave your condo/ motel by 6 am and leave the Hana area by 3 PM. I wouldn't suggest driving this road at night. Pull over often to let others by especially the locals and stop to see the many wonders of this side of the island.

Tip we always stay the night in Hana, usually camping but there are some other places to stay up there too, then travel the back side all the way around the mountain the next day. This is a must see area of Maui. If its nature you love you will not be disappointed. We go 2x a year to our beloved island and The Hana side is our favorite. The R2H CD was very helpful our first time.

Candy Land
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1,912 posts
195 reviews
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10. Re: How challenging is the drive?

swmarket and the fuzz are right w others. I clash against but understand them.

Maui is an adventure and if u miss this route you miss much of Maui. I always bludge about this cause cumming the same way u went is boring!!

just siding with the others that take the route. weigh ur options and GL. either route will still b awesome.