Located in the U.S. state of Hawai’i in the Pacific Ocean, Mana Road is a very scenic drive. It’s one of the locals' best kept secrets. This is a road that you don’t want to go alone. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart.
Is Mana Road dangerous?
The drive on the Big Island of Hawaii offers beautiful scenery on clear days. It’s one of the oldest and most well-known dirt roads on the Big Island. The road up the mountain can be dangerous, particularly in bad weather. The road is narrow and steep. You cannot take a rental car on this road, even a 4WD (strictly prohibited by rental car companies, even for their 4WD rentals). If the weather is good, you don't even need 4wd. Ground clearance is needed though, there are big ruts in a couple spots. If the weather has been bad, or turns bad, the trip could be quite an adventure. The road offers an unbelievable scenic adventure and travels through open ranchlands with plenty of challenging uphill climbs, fast technical descents and rugged terrain.
How long is Mana Road?
The drive links Mauna Kea Access Road and Mamalahoa Highway (in Waimea). It’s 42,9 miles (69km) long but expect more than 5 hours driving. The largely dirt road winds around Mauna Kea, Hawai’i’s tallest peak. Its highest elevation is 2.223m (7,293ft) above the sea level. Road is vary on quality from pavement on first mile to lose rocks and mud in the middle: a mixture of red dirt and hard-packed gravel with challenging rocks, loose rocks, mud etc.
This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. If you dare to take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. Ground clearance is needed but there are big ruts in a couple spots. The road offers an unbelievable scenic adventure. The terrain is muddy and it is better to avoid this route when it is raining a lot. Be prepared for erratic weather from strong winds to rain or sun. But the views are worth it. Bring plenty of water and fuel.
Pic: Rico Tumin