Pi'ilani Highway

Pi'ilani Highway (Hwy 31), Maui

Also known as the back road to Hana, the Pi'ilani Highway (Hwy 31) (see more photos) leads along Mt. Haleakala's southern flank, from upcountry Kula and Ulupalakua to the small communities of Kipahulu and Hana on Maui's east shore. The highway has a bad reputation and some rental car companies either caution against driving this road or prohibit it.

The “highway” is not really a highway like you would imagine it, with at least one lane in either direction, but more like a remote country road. 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.

Luckily the traffic on Pi'ilani Highway is much lighter than on the Hana Highway between Kahului and Hana, the road most people take to get to Hana. Compared to the lush and green rainforest vegetation and many waterfalls along the Hana Highway, the vegetation along the Pi'ilani Highway is drier with red-brown meadows, pebble beaches and sea cliffs.

Pi'ilani Highway Overview

  • Partially unpaved and narrow country road between Kipahulu and Ulupalakua
  • Avoid driving Pi'ilani Highway during or after heavy rainfall
  • Four-wheel drive car not necessary
  • Drive slowly around narrow blind curves
  • Great views along the way - pebble beaches, sea cliffs, undeveloped coastline
  • Distance from Ulupalakua to Hana is about 37 miles (60 km)

Pi'ilani Highway, Maui

Driving Directions: Pi'ilani Highway is the only road along Mt. Haleakala's southern flank. You can either drive it from Hana toward Ulupalakua/Kula or the other way around. From Hana (Hana Highway), continue southwest southwest on Pi'ilani Highway, or from Kula (Kula Highway), continue southeast on Pi'ilani Highway.

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