Piilani Highway is a road with bad reputation in Hawaii

Pi'ilani Highway is a must-drive. Located in Maui, the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, in the USA, this highway loops all the way around the southern coast of the island. The road is rough and unpaved at times. Be sure to honk around blind corners.

Piilani Highway

Can you drive the Piilani Highway in Maui?

The road (Hawaii Route 31) is 61 km (38 miles) long, running from Kipahulu to Ulupalakua. It’s a twisty, up-and-down roller coaster. The toughest section of the road is about 10 km (6 miles) long, where the road sometimes narrows to a single lane in sharp bends. In some areas, such as at Lelekea Bay, it's just a one-and-a-half-lane bumpy road hugging the sea cliff around a blind curve. Fences have been installed on the mountain here to prevent rocks from falling onto cars. The hairpin bends are completely blind, but there is almost no traffic. Occasionally the road is closed to traffic due to landslides. Although it is somewhat rough in places, it is by no means a daunting or particularly dangerous road if taken slowly. Traffic is light.

Is Maui Highway 31 paved?

The road is mostly paved, with a few sections of gravel or dirt, without too many holes. Four-wheel drive is not necessary. It’s not a gravel road; instead, it looks more like a very old paved road that’s been patched over and over and over again with asphalt.

Is the Piilani Highway in Maui safe?

It’s not an easy drive as it’s unpaved in sections, rough, and rugged in spots. Some parts are washboard-like and require speeds of 5 mph (8 km/h) or less to avoid damaging the suspension of a rental car. Most major rental car contracts forbid driving this section. This prohibition in rental car contracts seems more related to the remoteness of this section of highways. Avoid driving the road during or after heavy rainfall. Sometimes vehicles can get stuck on the unpaved stretches (especially after rains on those stretches or upslope on the Haleakala volcano), or the road is closed for other reasons.

Is the Piilani Highway worth it?

Running through the southern coast of Maui, the drive, also known as the back road to Hana, is very scenic, with stunning views of the astonishing shoreline. Along the way, you’ll discover lovely beach colors, amazing natural sceneries, and the majestic Pacific Ocean. The drive offers great views of pebble beaches, sea cliffs, and the undeveloped coastline. The area is probably the least visited part of the island, and yet it is one of the wildest.