Road Trip! Top Five Hawaii Drives


1. Road to Hana. One of the most famous drives across all the islands of Hawaii, the Road to Hana is known as much for the views along the way as it is for its endless twists, turns and one-lane bridge crossings. Hana itself is known as one of Maui’s remaining tropical paradises, but a road trip there can take anywhere from two to four hours to reach so an overnight stay along the way is a good idea. A road trip isn’t all about the drive though, is it? There are some stellar stops to make along the Road to Hana. If this is a family drive you’re going to want to bring the kids to Baby Beach or Baldwin Cove Lagoon at Baldwin Beach Park. Travellers interested in seeing some of the Hawaii of yester-year will get a kick out of Kaulanapueo Church in Huelo. The church overlooking the Pacific has been standing since 1853 and is built of stone and coral. Other must do stops along the way? The lush Koolau Forest Reserve, the taro patches of Keanae and the many waterfalls of Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park.


2. Hamakua Heritage Corridor. Travellers will start this Hawaii Island drive in Hilo and end at the Waipio Valley Lookout, while the journey in between will be filled with scenic views and spectacular stops. To begin, drivers will detour off Hawaii Belt Road and onto the Onomea Scenic drive over moss-laden bridges to find Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden — featuring 2,000 species of plants from around the world. Travellers looking to learn a bit of history along their drive can find it over many stops along the Hamakua district, once a vital part of Hawaii’s sugar plantation. In Laupahoehoe (in the Hamakua district) there is the Laupahoehoe Train Museum. Once an old station agent’s home and the site of the old Laupahoehoe Train Station (part of a railroad that transported Hawaii Islandʻs sugar cane), the museum has been restored to its original 1900s splendor.

A must-visit along the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive (and for almost all visitors to the Big Island) is Akaka Falls State Park and its 442-foot waterfall. Road-trippers interested in taking their adventure to the next level can partake in a zipline extravaganza with Skyline Eco Adventures and their Akaka Falls zipline tour featuring seven zipline crossings. Or if golf is more what your clients are looking for, suggest a stop in Honokaa at Hamakua Country Club, one of the last remaining historic plantation courses, with nine-holes packed into 15 acres. When travellers are getting hungry along this drive though, there is one place not to be missed: Tex’s Drive Inn (also in Honokaa) is famous for their airy, Portuguese donuts called malasadas — a delicacy locals swoon over. Finally, when the drive is done and Waipio Valley Lookout has been reached, travellers can feast their eyes on a site of tropical beauty that was also once home to thousands of Native Hawaiians, including King Kamehameha I.


3. North Shore drive. When your Waikiki-bound clients are looking for a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle, a drive to the ‘the country’ may be exactly what they need. Send them on a road trip to the North Shore, cruising along the Kameehameha Highway (Route 83) to follow the shoreline through the Windward Coast. Just like with numbers one and two on this list, the drive to the North Shore is filled with beautiful Hawaiian mountain and ocean scenery (but let’s face it, when in Hawaii it will be hard to take scenic road trip that doesn’t accompany breathtaking views). The North Shore itself is also an Oahu destination not to be missed, with surfers galore there to catch the waves through the winter season and a laid-back lifestyle that offers a neighbour-island feel. Stops along the way include Kualoa Ranch, where travellers can explore on the back of a horse, an ATV or even take a tour showcasing various Hollywood movie locations inside the ranch. Valley of Temples is another stop along the way that is sure to please, where visitors will get to experience the Byodo-In — a Japanese temple made entirely without nails.


4. Kuhio Highway. For a road-trip with so many picturesque stops it will be hard for travellers to decide when to actually stay put in their cars, a drive along Kuhio Highway to Hanalei is in order. Tell your clients to pack their snorkel gear for a stop at Lydgate State Park along the way. Even kids will find this a great place to learn to snorkel, with the park’s protected snorkeling lagoon. After a dip, Lydgate Park is also a great stop for a picnic. Then after some time on the road there is no greater place for a stop than Wailua River. If planned right, travellers can book a Fern Grotto tour with Smith’s Kauai for a cruise along Wailua River before continuing on with their trip. There are many things to do in town of Hanalei, that include visits to the Waioli Mission House and Hanalei Pier, but this final stop is the perfect place to pick up mementos to commemorate the end of this road trip. Hanalei is well-known for its galleries, where travellers can find Kauai made carvings crafted from Native Hawaiian wood.


5. Four-wheel driving on Lanai. Not quite the same as the other road trips on this list, a visit to Lanai calls for an entirely different kind of drive. There are 400 miles of four-wheel-drive-worthy road found on Lanai, from Munro Trail to the off-road paths of North Lanai and South Lanai’s historic Kaunolu, once King Kamehameha’s summer fishing retreat. Four-wheel drive reservations can be booked through the Dollar Rent A Car in Lanai City.

Travel Week Logo

Get travel news right to your inbox!