Experience The Beauty of Hawaii by Road

Hawaii road trips
Hawaii road trips | © Edmund Garman/Flickr

Hawaii is one of the top must-visit destinations and for good reasons. Besides the beautiful Hawaiian beaches that are famous the world over, the island has magnificent scenery that includes green mountains, lush valleys, crystal clear waterfalls, and active volcano flows. Hawaii is great for relaxing, but that is not restricted to just lounging in resort pools or basking on the beaches. Road trips are some of the best ways to experience the island of Hawaii. The scenery is spread out over the island, and well-organized scenic tours Hawaii provide a little bit of everything. Whether you are a photographer looking for the right shots, a family on its annual vacation, or a nature lover, Hawaii has something appropriate. Here are several road trip ideas.

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Kauai – Best for Photographers

Napali Coast, Kauai

One reason Kauai is perfect drive for photographers is that it offers diverse scenery that will fill up an album. Being the fourth largest in the Hawaiian archipelago at 562.3 SQ miles, Kauai is worth a whole day’s trip. The most accessible beach on Kauai’s north shore is Ke’e, which is one of the points to start a drive. Alternatively, tourists can begin the journey on the opposite end that is Kapaa and finish at Ke’e. A dense rainforest is one of the features that characterize this drive. The rainforest accentuates the coastline, which comprises of some famous beaches like Lumahai and Napali. Anahola is on the way as you head on the Kuhio Highway/Route 56.

The distinct mountain peak in Anahola is one of many picturesque sights on the trip. There is also Kalihiwai Valley and the Hanalei Valley in Princeville. Hanalei town is small and charming with a laid back country feel and the Hanalei Bay adds to the beauty of the place. Still in Princeville is the Queen’s Bath which is natural sink hole highlighted by a black lava shoreline. Watch the Hanalei River flow down the green valleys and disappear behind mountains. Opaekaa Falls, Alekoko Fishpond, and Makauwahi cave are other sights to see on the trip.

O’ahu – Best for Families


When looking to make a memorable trip for your children, a drive in O’ahu is one way to do that. The Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve is particularly a great stop for a family adventure. Learn about the different types of Hawaiian reef fish that call the unique natural aquarium home. The Koko Crater Botanical Garden is another stop along the way that will give the family a chance to explore nature. It is filled with Hawaiian native plants and others from the world over.

The garden has trails that lead to a viewpoint of the shore below. The rural town of Waimanalo offers a lot to do for family fun, including hiking, dining, and shopping. A drive can start from Hawaii Kai through Kalanianaole Highway/Route 72 and end at Kailua. The drive includes several beautiful Hawaiian beaches for tourists who want to surf or swim. The town of Waimanalo is part of the tour as well. A driver can take the Pali Highway and stop at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout then proceed northwards on Kamehameha Highway.

Lanai – Best for Offroaders

Forest road in Lanai

The 400 miles of road that Lanai offers is best explored in a 4×4. North Lanai is, especially popular with off-roaders because it contains most of the exploration paths. Lanai has a rich history filled with myths and legends. One thing that that is certain is that it was the biggest pineapple producer in the globe after James started a pineapple plantation in the 1920s, hence the nickname “Pineapple Island.” Most drivers begin their trips at the quaint Lanai City. Lanai Ohana Poke Market is just on the way out of town and is a good stop to pick up supplies for the road trip.

Drive northwards on Keomoku Highway then to Kanepuu Highway and finally Awalua Highway, which takes you on a dirt path. The dirt road leads to the Polihua Trail and then the Kanepuu Preserve, which contains the region’s native trees. Down the road is Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods). North of the Polihua Trail leads to Polihua Beach. Another option for scenic tours Hawaii is to travel northeast from Lanai City to end up at Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach).

Maui – Best for Nature Lovers

Nakalele Blowhole

Anyone looking to connect with nature will find Maui more than accommodating. One way to road trip in Maui is to take the road to Hana that links Kahului to Hana. It leads to the East Maui rainforest where tourists can schedule eco adventures for exploration purposes. Just before reaching the rainforest, you will come across Nakalele Point Light Station. The winding Road to Hana offers scenic sights of waterfalls and valleys like the Twin Falls, which are particularly relaxing on a morning drive.

Wai’anapanapa State Park is another paradise for nature lovers with its volcanic sand beach. Explorers will also see freshwater caves, lava tubes, and seabird colonies in the park. A break at Oheo Gulch is an opportunity to visit the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo for a quick dip. The Road to Hana also brings you to the Haleakala National Park where you can hike the rainforest using the Pipiwai Trail. The Honomanu Bay, Ho’okipa Lookout, and the Hana Lava Tube are other features that characterize this nature drive.

Molokai – Best for Couples


Molokai is one of the Hawaiian Islands where tourists won’t find resorts lining the coastline or restaurants every few miles. Its undisturbed atmosphere is the reason it is ideal for a couple’s getaway. Visitors take cues from the slow pace of the locals. Don’t expect traffic in Molokai, and there are very few stop signs (and no traffic lights). Kaunakakai is one place to start a road trip. The Maunaloa Highway/Route 460 and then the Farrington Highway/Route 480 lead to the Coffees of Hawaii Molokai Plantation.

A mule tour of the coffee fields provides a chance to learn a few fundamentals of Hawaiian coffee making. Further along the drive is Kalaupapa National Historical Park. The nature trails offer an ideal activity for a couple. Palaau State Park is another recommended stop. It offers a climb to the top of the highest sea cliffs in the world to enjoy the views. On Molokai’s northwest shore is Kepuhi Beach where you can relax after a long drive.
Hawaii is a fascinating destination for any traveler. Most people concentrate on the beaches and forget that the scenery has just as must to offer. However, driving in Hawaii is one way that both tourists and locals can take in the abundant natural scenery of the island.

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