Driving Tips and Road Conditions

Don’t let all the hype about the Road to Hāna scare you off. Use the following driving tips, road condition information and driving etiquette to help you.

 Right of Way

Heavy Load on the Road to Hana

During weekdays, its business as usual along the Road to Hāna. Sharing one-lane bridges and narrow sections of road with large, heavy trucks is not uncommon. Their drivers will blow their horns to warn you of their presence around blind corners. Listen for them. You don’t have to have a degree in physics to know, a truck carrying a few tons of rocks is hard to stop. Please give them the right-of-way.

If you are inside a long line or train of cars going over a one-lane bridge or section of road, stay behind the train of cars and cross with them. If you are the first or lone car and someone on the other side is waiting to cross in the opposite direction, yield and let them  and whoever is behind them cross or pass first, it’s their turn.

Thank yielding motorists by waving and smiling your thank you.

Use Pullouts

There are all kinds of drivers with different driving skill levels on the road. Each are in an unfamiliar rental car and many have never driven such an intimidating road. If you drive slow and find yourself with a chain of cars behind you, please use one the many pullouts to let them pass.

Locals also frequent the road and drive much faster than visitors. They’ve seen the sites and just need to get to their destination. Please also use the pullouts to let them pass when they come up on you quickly from behind. Don’t have them ride your rear bumper for miles. If you receive a quick double honk, it means thank you for pulling over.

Share the Drive

The Road to Hāna can be a long arduous drive for one person. Continual concentration can be tiresome and the driver will miss spectacular views along the way. Split your driving task with others so all can enjoy the journey. Constantly looking out for hazardous road conditions can be exhausting.

Road Conditions

Heavy rains are not uncommon on the east side of Maui.  Flash flooding can occur and rocks, mud and/or trees have been known to wash down onto the road and in rare occasions, close it to thru traffic. Check the Maui County Website for Current Road Conditions or call (808) 986-1200 for current road conditions and closure updates. Road maintenance is ongoing and lane closures can be found on the Hawai’i State Department of Transportation website.

Night Driving Tips

Please be reminded you are in between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator so don’t expect a summer evening’s twilight to last until 11:00 p.m. The apparent sunrise/sunset for the equinoxes and solstices for Hāna are as follows:

  • Spring – March 20 – Sunrise 06:35 a.m. Sunset 6:42 p.m.
  • Summer – June 21 –Sunrise 5:50 a.m. Sunset 7:16 p.m.
  • Fall – September 22 –Sunrise 6:20 a.m. Sunset 6:28 p.m.
  • Winter – December 21 –Sunrise 7:04 a.m. Sunset 5:55 p.m.

If you get caught driving home in the dark, spotting the headlights of oncoming vehicles from one curve to the next can be helpful.  Be advised, most of the bridges are one-lane as well as some sections of road.  In addition, there are over 620 curves with no streetlights or traffic lights.

Breakdowns & Accidents

While extremely rare, breakdowns and accidents can occur. If you see an accident or breakdown, slow and offer assistance or aid.  Some areas are so remote they prevent cell phone reception.  Offer to call for assistance (dial 9-1-1 for emergencies) at the next area you receive a cell phone signal or upon the next call box on the road, or offer assistance to warn oncoming cars (especially around blind corners).

All rental car agencies have specific phone numbers to call in case of accidents or breakdowns.  Look in your glovebox for the rental contract. If you are on the ‘backside’ of the Road to Hāna (past the Kīpahulu section of Haleakalā National Park) most likely your car rental company deems this portion of road prohibited and will charge you for rescues or repairs.

Some accidents can be minor, a driver looking at a view drives into a ditch or pulls off the road into mud and can’t get out. This is more of a “we are stuck situation”.  On more than one occasion, I have seen locals pull over to assist a stuck motorist. Many drivers of large trucks driven by locals have tow straps in the cab and they can be extremely friendly when you are in trouble. If they rescue you, thank them profusely and maybe even offer to buy them dinner. They can save you from hours of waiting for your rental car company or tow truck to assist you.

Follow these driving tips for a safe and fun journey along the Road to Hāna.