Home » 4 Beautiful Places to See By Renting a Car in Maui

4 Beautiful Places to See By Renting a Car in Maui

There’s a reason why Maui is at the top of many a traveler’s Hawaii bucket list. This golden child of the Hawaiian archipelago offers you a host of rich experiences, such as enjoying authentic luaus lit by glorious sunsets, lazy days basking at Wailea Beach, and even some of the best spa experiences in Maui at establishments like the Ritz-Carlton and the Spa at Black Rock. Want to enjoy multiple things at once? Traverse Maui with a rented car.

If you’re raring to go on a road trip, the biggest island in Hawaii won’t disappoint, either. Sure, you can take a tour—but by driving a car, you’ll be able to follow your own tailor-made itinerary and spend as long as you want lingering over the treasures you’ll discover along the way. If you’re the kind of intrepid traveler who likes forging their own path, renting a vehicle in Maui is definitely something to consider.

Wondering where to take your borrowed wheels? Here are a few great places to stop by.

Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is always part of the quintessential Maui road trip. This scenic route covers more than fifty-two miles across the tropical landscape. Along the way, you can gaze upon ethereal waterfalls, stumble upon amazing beach parks, and even explore a lava tube!

How to get there

Some travelers pinpoint the official start of their trip at mile marker 0, where Hawaii Route 36 turns into Hawaii Route 360. This is also the best way to navigate the Road to Hana—here, you can reset your odometer and start using Google’s mile marker map for greater ease. All journeys pass through Kahului. Maui County’s census-designated place is home to Kahului Airport—the island’s primary airport—making it another solid starting point where you can get tons of directions from locals on where to get started

Key places to visit

The Road to Hana is full of natural wonders. For a breathtaking view of the sunrise, stop by Ho’okipa Beach Park. For something a little more unique, you can delve into the Hana Lava Tube’s fascinating caves. You’re also welcome to stop by any of the numerous waterfalls and groves you’ll encounter along your drive.

Things to keep in mind

The Road to Hana will, at the very minimum, take around seven hours to complete. Some parts of the road are unpaved, making it a challenging drive. For a smoother experience, it’s best to take advantage of the Jeep Wrangler rentals available in Maui. With the vehicle’s powerful 4-wheel drive mode and 15″-17″ factory tires, you’ll be able to brave any terrain with ease. If you rent a soft-top convertible model, you can even put the top down and enjoy the fresh breeze along the way!

Haleakala National Park

The Haleakala National Park is home to the Haleakala Crater—a now-dormant volcano visible from almost anywhere on the island, and where Hawaiian mythology holds is the spot the god Maui lassoed the sun. It’s a great place to hike and enjoy the summit’s gorgeous view!

How to get there

This park sits on the southeast corner of the island, around a 2-hour drive from the Kahului Airport. Public transportation routes don’t cover this area, so renting a car is a must. If you’re traveling with a group and need moderate luggage space, the Hyundai Elantra and Chevy Cruze are good choices. Load up on gas in the town of Pukalani and then head to Hawaii Route 37. From there, drive down Route 377 and Route 378, where you’ll easily find the park’s main entrance.

Key places to visit

The Haleakala Crater is by far the highlight of this site. To get there, you can either drive up to the summit area or hike through the park itself. If you decide to walk, taking the Halemau’u Trail will allow you to access the inside of the crater. Up for a challenge? Take the Sliding Sands Trail when you make your descent. This challenging route encompasses an eroded portion of the crater—and if you time your hike right, you can catch some gorgeous views of the sunrise.

Things to keep in mind

The park has limited facilities, so bring food and snacks with you! Hiking will require boots and some rain gear. If you’re planning to go to the summit, remember that it stands 10,023 feet above sea level—so dress warmly and prepare altitude sickness prevention pills just in case.

Nakalele Blowhole

One of Maui’s natural wonders is the Nakalele Blowhole—a marine geyser that spits pressurized water up to 100 feet in the air. Centuries ago, molten lava and powerful seawater met to form the lava tubes that make up this sparkling, pressurized fountain. Catch it at the right time, and you might even see it create a rainbow!

places to visit in maui by car

How to get there

Starting from the Honoapiilani Highway, head northeast. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you see the mesmerizing cliffs along mile marker 33. When you get to mile 38, drive until you find the pullout along the coast where you can park your car.

Key places to visit

The blowhole itself is the main draw of this area, but you can also check out other attractions nearby. The Nakalele Point Lighthouse gives you a sweeping view of the azure ocean and surrounding coast, and Fleming Beach is a tranquil place to picnic near the waves. Keep an eye out for the delectable banana bread sold by stands along the way!

Things to keep in mind

You can hike up to the Nakalele Blowhole up to a certain point. However, it’s important to recall that the geyser is also extremely dangerous—you can literally get sucked in if you get too close. If you’re traveling with kids, consider staying at the parking lot instead and renting a Ford Mustang for the drive. That way, you can take advantage of the convertible’s luxurious interior and folding roof feature—and view the blowhole’s magnificence unhindered at a safe and comfortable distance

Iao Valley State Monument

The Iao Valley State Monument stands right at the beating heart of Maui. The monument itself is called Kuka‘emoku or the Iao Needle—a startling rock formation jutting up 1200 feet into the sky. Stop here to marvel at this nature-made obelisk and enjoy the lush vegetation surrounding it.

How to get there

No public transportation reaches this park, so be ready to get behind the wheel. If you’re a new arrival and want to head to the monument to get some sightseeing done right away, you can rent a Nissan Sentra, VW Jetta, and other economy cars at the Kahului Airport. From there or from any part of Kahului, all you need to do is head westward on Highway 32. Then, turn to Highway 320, which leads directly into Iao Valley State Park.

Key places to visit

The best place to catch a glimpse of the famous Iao Needle is at the park’s featured lookout. To find it, head from the parking lot toward the Iao Stream, cross the bridge and turn right. From there, it’s 133 steps up to one of the most remarkable views of the landmark. You can also hike through the surrounding woods or learn more about the local ecology at the Hawaii Nature Center.

Things to keep in mind

Maui is often prone to flash floods, which can make this state park dangerously muddy. If you visit on a downcast day, be careful to stay away from any streams and bring some rain gear along for the ride. You can check what the weather will be like before your trip through the Iao Valley State Park’s web page. This is where they announce if the park needs to be closed due to heavy rain or slope stabilization projects.

Maui is home to many beautiful and varied sites, from heart-dropping cliffs to lava-crafted caverns to blowholes by the sea. Be sure to rent a car to experience the best of what this island has to offer.


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