Archive for the ‘Northwest Maui Coast’ Category

We decided to take a drive up the Northwest Maui Coast to check out some of the sights we had read about in the Maui Revealed guidebook. The book recommends traveling in a clockwise direction around the island, so we started out towards Lahaina. Of course we had to stop at the Whale Lookout on the way to Lahaina. The whales were too far out though, so we only saw water being spouted, no tails or jumping.
Lahaina Whale Lookout

We stopped in for an early lunch at the Seahouse Restaurant at the Napili Kai Resort on Napili Beach. The food was very good and the view (below) was awesome. We were told that you can also see whales from here sometimes, so we kept an eye out for them, but didn’t see anything.

On our next trip to Maui we will certainly go back to the Seahouse, and even to Napili Beach in general. It looked like a great place for a swim, but we wanted to continue driving as we had planned.


Honolua bay is a great spot just past Napili. There is a good lookout above the bay. We first  stopped there during our trip in 2008. We had a hard time finding a parking spot it was so busy. Once we hit the water we found out why… it was very good snorkeling. However in 2009 the beach was not busy at all. A private property sign had been put up at the access trail to the bay, and the entire area was very quiet. The lookout was still a good place to stop though. The surfers seemed to have found a way down the cliffs to the other side of the bay, but it did not seem like a place for us.

I am guessing when the next edition of the guidebook comes out Honolua Bay will be noted as a place to avoid due to whoever lives there now, as has happened at a number of great places mentioned in the book. Many of the locals have not been happy with the guidebook revealing all of their secrets, and have become somewhat unfriendly. The Northwest Coast seemed to be one of those places, so we mainly stuck to the road and didn’t wander too far from the car. Although the forest at Honolua Bay was a very interesting place to look around, but it did not have the same feel in 2009 as it did in 2008. But it made for some great photos. You can tell they get a lot of rain here…
Enchanted Forest

20080417_173The scenery is very good throughout the drive along the entire coastline, with many small pullouts for at least a few cars to stop to enjoy the view.

20090407_123The beach in the photo below is Punalau Beach. We spotted it during our trip in 2008, but couldn’t find it again in 2009. Apparently there is a four wheel drive trail down to the beach, but it crosses private property so is not recommended. The locals up on this side of the island did not seem to be too friendly though either, so they probably don’t really want tourists down there anyhow. I don’t think I would swim this far from civilization either, as the ocean did not look very calm. It’s probably better that we just looked at it from above.


If you are not an adventurous type, make sure to turn around at about the 42 mile marker. The road changes greatly once you get past there… It gets very, very narrow along the way. In the Maui Revealed guidebook it mentions that there are a few “very narrow one lane sections” – and they certainly meant it!

However we still were not prepared for roads like this…

20090407_163There are some pullouts along the way in case you meet any traffic. But most of the time there is a cliff on one side, and a drop-off on the other, so the pullouts were often not there when you needed them.

20090407_182 Shauna actually got out at one point to direct traffic; although in that case it was a complete drop-off on the left side, not grass like in the photo above. I had to get as close to the cliff on the right as possible with our car, and the other car got as close to the drop-off as he could. He actually had part of his wheel over the edge of the road as we passed, with a very steep drop-off into the ocean below. It was a stressful situation for all of us.

We were very lucky we didn’t see the school bus or the dump truck at that spot. Luckily when we met each of those vehicles I was able to get out of the way – because they barely slowed down. And let me tell you, it is not a good experience to meet a dump-truck as you are about to come around a blind corner. We sat still for a moment just in case there was a second one coming along as well, but there was only the one.

Another thing you might want to consider before traveling this far is your contract with the car rental company. Most of them have areas designated where you are not supposed to travel in their cars. So if something happens in one of these areas, the bill might be all yours, but I am not entirely sure. We forgot to check until later, but this was definitely one of the areas they don’t want you to go.

I have also written a post on car rental tips here. One of the things I mention in the post is that we made sure to get our own insurance coverage for our 2009 trip through the RoadStar package at ICBC before we got to Maui. It definitely helped save a lot of money on the additional insurances they try to sell you. We hoped that our insurance would have covered it had something gone wrong on this drive, but cannot say for sure. Like I said above, probably best to turn around at the 42 mile marker. The coastline on the Hana highway was quite similar, but much more of a relaxing drive.

The photo below was taken during our inter-island flight from Maui to Oahu in 2008. You can see the winding road along the coastline. We didn’t realize that this was the ‘highway’ we had traveled until after we got home from our 2009 trip.  You can also click on the photo to look at a larger sized file on Flickr.

20080407_199 2008 04 19 086

This is downtown Kahakuloa, not far from the Banana Bread stand. The banana bread was very good, but we were undecided if it was worth the stress of the drive.

20090407_172If it was a one way road I would certainly recommend it as a site to travel for everyone. But with all the blind corners, drop-off cliffs, and large oncoming traffic, I would only recommend it to those who are confident in their driving, and are looking for a true adventure. There certainly is a reason rental car companies do not want their cars driving up here…

We could tell we were getting closer to the end of the drive when we could spot Kahului in the distance. And what a welcome site it was…


Overall it was a great day. We thought there would be a lot more places we could stop to take photos and look around. But past the 42 mile marker the road was just too skinny. So most of our photos were taken through the car window as we drove along slowly.

We would certainly go exploring along this coastline again, but next time we will likely turn around when the road starts to get smaller.

Here is the link to a video that I shot during our drive:


I don’t think it would help very much to travel in a counter-clockwise direction around the island either. There might be less chance of meeting a bus or a dump truck, but the amount of tourist traffic would increase dramatically. Seems like a no win situation either way.

A few days after this adventure we drove the Hana Highway. After all we had heard about it we were expecting the worst. But after driving around the Northwest Coastline the Hana Highway did not seem that bad at all – just busier and with many more places to stop and explore. But that is another story for another post…


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