Exploring The Other Side of Haleakala Volcano

The Road On Maui None of the Rental Car Companies Want You To Take

The Piiliani Highway Maui HawaiiAs there is on Oahu, there is a road on Maui you are not supposed to take your rental car on. Although the road in question is for the most part, nicely paved, it is as far away from civilization on Maui as you can get. The road in question is called the Piiliani Highway. The Piiliani Higway takes over going around the backside of the Haleakala Volcano where the Hana Highway stops, near Kalepa Gulch. Between the Hana and the Piiliani Highway are 38 miles of curves, twists, ruts, and occasional piles of landslide derbies.

A stream does cross the road at one point which is probably why most rental car companies advise against or restrict driving on the backside of Haleakala. Having said that, the road is much better and the views are quite spectacular.

Furthermore, to get to all the awesome scenery along the Hana Highway, you pretty much drive a crazy, narrow road that darts around on top of sheer cliffs with clueless tourists and impatient locals. Charles Lindbergh gravestone Palapala Ho'Omau Congregational ChurchI’d venture most tourists push on to the Kipahulu Visitor Center that leads to the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o after a stop at Waianapanapa State Park. This is one of those road trips you pack for the night before and start as soon as the AM traffic calms down There is a lot to see along the Hana Highway before you head out into the outback into the expanse on the back flanks of Maui’s sacred volcano Haleakala.

If you choose to push on further to the Palapala Ho’Omau Congregational Church to visit famous aviator Charles Lindbergh gravesite, turning around seems even unthinkable. Imagine if Charle’s Lindbergh had turned around.. On the drive I took, it didn’t make any sense to turn around and go back looking at all I had already seen. The weather was good, they had not been any recent rains, and I had plenty of time to take it slowly.

I hear that some rental car companies do not have prohibitions about driving the loop around Haleakala. Rent from one of those companies, or just don’t tell, I won’t. I took a minivan, you don’t need four wheel drive. Just be prepared to turn around and backtrack at any time should you run into that low spot and the water is more than a few inches deep.

Make that water of the road a hard rule and you won’t have an issue. Nothing like being pushed out to sea because you were too much of a knucklehead to turn around. The reward is a view you don’t get just anywhere in Hawaii. The space on that side of Haleakala is big, coming at you more like Montana, than a tropical island. Ah, but first you have to plan on going to Maui!