Here’s a good article by Megan Shute on the best backroads in Hawaii for Only In Your State. Our Deluxe Volcano Tour visits the Hamakua Coast and Big Island Circle Tour travels Saddle Road. Our Mercedes-Benz Sprinter mini-coaches offer the ultimate in comfort and luxury.
Throughout the Hawaiian Islands, you will find unsurpassed natural beauty everywhere you go. While there are some wonders that can only be seen via strenuous hiking trails or crazy expensive helicopter tours, there are others that simply require a vehicle. Even though we can’t take a traditional road trip like our friends on the mainland, the Hawaiian Islands are home to several incredibly stunning backroads just waiting for our next scenic drives – and we can almost guarantee that our views are better especially on the best scenic roads in Hawaii that we could find:
Living in the shadow of Maui’s famous Hana Highway is the island’s Kahekili Highway – a road just as pretty and perhaps even more dangerous that its famous neighbor. This is easily the loneliest road in Hawaii, and it is an absolute must-visit for anyone who loves long, winding drives along the coast. Be warned, however, that this is a dangerous drive not suitable for the faint at heart. If you need to stop off for breakfast or lunch along your drive, make sure to check out Sixty Two Marcket.
Chain of Craters Road
As the name indicates, this scenic road leads drivers to the coast, past several craters from historic eruptions. Since the road was opened in 1965, several parts of the road have been buried in lava due to volcanic eruptions. The Chain of Craters Road is located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and currently measures in at 18.8 miles. Oh, and just as a warning – there is no food, water of fuel available along the path. Plan your visit along this stunning road with up-to-date information from the National Park Service.
Farrington Highway begins in Ewa, and makes its way to Oahu’s leeward coast, before ending at Kaena Point State Park, the northwestern most tip of the island. Not only is the Pacific Ocean breathtaking, but the lush mountains towering overhead are absolutely dreamy. For more information about Kaeana Point visit their website.
The Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway serves as the gateway to Kauai’s southern shore, and is full of magnificent views and gorgeous stops, including Maluhia Road, a stretch of highway covered in a canopy of eucalyptus trees. If you’re looking for one of the most scenic places in the Hawaiian Islands, look no further than Maluhia Road. And of course, make sure you stop to take pictures in the famous Maluhia Road Tree Tunnel.
Hawaii Belt Road
Mamalahoa Highway, referred to modernly as the Hawaii Belt Road, includes Routes 11, 19, and 190, encircling the Island of Hawaii, from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to Waimea through Kona. This is perhaps the greatest – and longest – road trip you can take while in Hawaii. Make sure to stop at Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark to see where King Kamehameha I spent the latter part of his reign along your drive.
When H-2 North ends in Wahiawa and Kamehameha Highway begins, you’ll find yourself driving amongst little more than pineapple fields and stunning mountain views as you make your way to the charming surf town of Haleiwa. Here, you can continue along Oahu’s famous north shore and drive for hours around the island, or head west and hit up the famous Mokuleia Beach. Break up the trip at Poke For The People and enjoy some tasty food along the way!
The drive to the summit of Mount Haleakala is exhilarating to say the least – it’s almost as though you are driving upwards towards the heavens. While this drive is certainly known for its incredible destination, the steep, winding road is still pretty cool. Make sure to visit the National Park Service site for some history about this route.
You won’t find a prettier drive than the one along Hawaii Island’s Hamakua Coast. Stretching north from Hilo, the road is punctuated by lush, tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic seaside views. Bring a picnic lunch.
Road to Hana
Maui’s Road to Hana is perhaps the most popular scenic drive on the island – and possibly all of Hawaii. This infamous 64.4-mile highway stretches from Kahului to Hana is popular not for the destination – Hana Town – but for the incredible journey it takes to get there. The highway passes over 59 bridges and features a whopping 620 turns. Save room for Hana Farms’s delicious wood-fired pizza in Hana.
Hawaii Route 200, also known as Saddle Road, traverses Hawaii Island for 52.7 miles from downtown Hilo to its junction with Highway 190 near Waimea. The highway received its nickname for being the “saddle” in between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes, and is notoriously dangerous. Stretch your legs with a hike into a lava tube at impressive Kaumana Caves.
From incredible lava formations and charming coves to challenging hikes and beautiful beaches, Oahu’s Kalanianaole Highway is a treasure trove of incredible spots you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Pro tip: it’s an even more incredible drive when done on a motorcycle. Take a break from driving for a bit and hike out to Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse.