A Hawaiian vacation can be more than tropical beaches, smoldering volcanoes, and amazing seafood. For those days when you want to do a bit more, hop in your rental car and discover the other side of Hawaii by enjoying some of these best places to go on a scenic drive.
Maui – The Hana Highway is a beautiful 68 mile drive along the northern edge of Maui. The winding cliff roads offer breathtaking views of the shoreline and tropical rainforests. Travel time is estimated at 2.5 hours due to the many sharp turns, one lane bridges, and narrow roadways. The highway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
Kauai – The Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway is a gorgeous 19 mile stretch on the southern Kauai coast. The route begins with a passage through a tunnel of trees to the sugar plantation town of Koloa, which was founded in the 1800’s. You can visit the Koloa Missionary Church, schoolhouse, and other buildings from that era. A bit further down the road are wonders such as the site of the 15th century village of Kaneioloumaro, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and the beautiful Keoneloa Bay. End your trip at Haupu Mountain and the Puuwanawana volcano.
Oahu – Route 61, known locally as the Pali Highway, is one of the most beautiful drives in the state. Car & Driver described it as “awe inspiring”. The original road follows a path that dates back to ancient times, and is now closed to cars. The road leaves downtown Honolulu and travels through the gorgeous Nuʻuanu Valley to the windward side of the island. Along the way there are numerous lookouts, Queen Anne’s Summer House, and several 19th century cemeteries and religious buildings.
Big Island – Kaloko Road and the Cloud Forest of Kona make for a beautiful drive on the Big Island. The 7 mile trip tops out at an altitude of 5000 feet. Along the way you will see gorgeous views of the coastline and town of Kona below. At the top, the Cloud Forest is shrouded in a surreal fog that will make the entire trip an otherworldly experience.
Lanai – The Munro Trail is the 12 mile dirt road that cuts across the middle of Lanai on the way to the top of Mount Lanaihale. On a clear day visitors to the summit can see the 5 main islands of Hawaii, as well as views of Maunalei gulch below. Enjoy the lush tropical rainforests along the way. Note: many of the scenic drives on Lanai will need 4 wheel drive vehicles. Check with your rental agency before setting out.