Maui to Kaunakakai Road Trip Guide

Introduction

Hawaii makes for fabulous road trip adventures and the run from Maui to Kaunakakai is one of the best. Maui is an island that makes up part of the Hawaiian archipelagos. It is the second-largest of the islands and is very diverse both in terms of culture and climate. It is also one of just three volcanic atolls in the world.

The island offers plenty of lush green forests to hike through, abundant pools and waterfalls, and of course, being an island, you are surrounded by water in which you will be able to snorkel among rainbow corals and colorful tropical fish.

For the outdoor lover, there are few places that offer more in the way of adventure and discovery. Being self-contained in your van enables you to reach places that you might not otherwise have been able to. There is one downside to this and that is that this is a particularly popular destination for RV explorers, so book well in advance.

The size of the island makes it very accessible and because the climate is so changeable, even if it is raining when you wake up, it is likely to be sunny and dry just a few hours later.

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Details

60'
Max RV length
60'
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 2-3 days
Recommend rig: van
audience: couple

Point of Interest

Hana

Technically, the drive to Hana should only take ten minutes. The problem is that there is so much to see that you are likely to take much longer. On virtually every bend - and there are many of them - there are waterfalls, ocean views or other natural phenomena that will have you pulling over and reaching for your camera.

Hana lies on the eastern edge of Maui and is one of the most isolated communities on the island. From the town take a ten-minute walk down to the Red Sand beach. This lovely cove is protected by an impressive lava wall and with the addition of the red sand, makes a great place for a dip.

All along the Paia to Hana road, you will be exposed to food trucks and fruit stalls. They are great places to grab banana cakes, farm produce and their famous shaved ice with fruit syrup. Be sure to carry cash with you as there are no banks or wifi on this route. Ae’s Thai Kitchen food truck is great for coconut mahi-mahi or pad thai.


Waianapanapa State Park

Less than an hour from your campsite, Waianapanapa State Park is set in 122 acres. There is also an RV park where you might like to spend your second night on Maui. There is so much to explore here that it is going to be difficult to decide where you will begin.

The park runs along a jagged stretch of volcanic coastline that is simply breathtaking. There are black beaches, blowholes, lava tubes, and stone sea arches, all of which can be reached from hiking trails. As if that is not enough there are also sweeping 360-degree views.

Anchialine pools are natural pools of freshwater but which have a subterranean connection to the ocean. This means that the lower waters are saline and the higher levels fresh.

There are also Hala forests that provide welcome shade on hotter days and are a haven for wild birds, many of them unique to Hawaii. The Hala plays a big part in Hawaiian culture and is used for making dyes, medicine, and household items, while the fruit is also edible.


Garden of Eden Arboretum

Maui Garden of Eden is just three-quarters of an hour from the beach, and it consists of 26 acres of lush gorgeousness. There are trails that wind among rare trees and collections of Ti plants. These are used for Polynesian ceremonies and rituals.

If the seven hundred botanically labeled plants aren’t enough to make you gasp, the ocean views certainly will. Top this off with hidden waterfalls and you are pretty much assured to come away with photographs that will make you the envy of your friends and family.

If your photos are not going to offer enough of a souvenir, there is also an art gallery tucked into the forest where the art is all local and inspired by nature. You can also enjoy a picnic in the park if you didn’t manage to score a table at Mama’s.

The garden was opened to the public in 1996. It is widely recognized for its forward-thinking conservation techniques and gardening methods. The goal of the owners is to support the local economy and conservation efforts. As you wander through the garden, remind yourself that not long ago there were no trails or tracks and you could not see the ocean.

It has been a pretty busy first day and so now you might want to think about settling down for the night. Around twenty minutes from the arboretum, YMCA Camp Keanae site is a great place from which to watch the sun go down while enjoying a glass of wine.


Paia

Just sixteen minutes from Maui airport, Paia is an adorable small town that marks the start of the famous Paia to Hana Road which has so much to explore that it should not be missed.

Paia is an adorable town filled with craft shops, art galleries and, restaurants. There is a distinctly bohemian feel to the place that has long made it popular with surfers.

Mama’s Fish House is one restaurant you won’t want to overlook. With stunning views across the ocean, framed by swaying palm trees, you will also be presented with a display from the local surfers as you enjoy your meal. Again, you should book this one in advance because it is renowned for its fresh fish and amazing cocktails.

Three minutes' drive from Mama’s will bring you to Ho'okipa Beach Park where there is a lookout point from which you can marvel at the enormous waves and often spot sea turtles drifting through the waters.


Summary

From Red Sand beach the drive to Lahaina Harbor will take you two and a half hours. There you will drop your van and catch the ferry to Kaunakakai from pier three. The crossing takes nearly two hours but is a very pleasant way to end your road trip. Most of the points of interest on this journey are close so you will be able to choose which ones best suit your itinerary and ferry times.

Kaunakakai is situated on the island of Molokai which is the third oldest island in the Hawaiian chain. It is regarded as the most traditional of all the islands and is home to most natives. Many people say it feels like stepping back fifty years in time into a world from the past.

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