With one day left in our 9-day visit to Maui, Hawaii, we wanted to do something slightly relaxing but also take in more of the beauty of the island. Although there were many more things we would have loved to see on the road to Hana, the whole experience on that side of the island has a feel of crazy to it. Our guide suggested a road to Hana alternative that I felt comfortable driving myself, and it was a perfect way to spend a day in Maui. It actually ended up my favorite day in Maui. This is saying a lot as any day in Maui is magical. So join me as I tell you about our Maui scenic drive along Route 30.
We drove Route 30 starting at Kaanapali. If you want to have a relaxing day, spend your whole day making this Maui road trip. If you only have half a day, you can see everything but will have to hurry through it. The farthest you will drive from Lahaina Harbor is 21.5 miles, but it is a windy 21.5 miles with one-way bridges at points in the road, so it takes a while.
I would recommend starting your day early because the snorkeling is only good in the first stop in the morning and the Olivine Pools aren’t safe if you don’t visit them at low tide.
All the parking lots are free. Break-ins are common if there are no people around.
The Olivine Pools and the Nakalele Lighthouse lots have food kiosks so that you can grab a snack or drink. Bring cash for the snacks and expect to overpay grossly. For example, a lemonade is around eight dollars. The safest lots are the ones with food kiosks.
Table of Contents
Stops on Your Maui Scenic Drive: Route 30, Northwest Maui Road Trip
3350 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina
Start your day off with breakfast at the eclectic Java Jazz, a sitdown breakfast spot with an espresso bar and unique decorations.
If you like to snorkel, this was the best offshore diving we did while in Maui. If you aren’t a snorkeler, it is a nice walk to the beach through a jungle full of chickens.
To simply see Honolua Bay, pass both parking lots and go down the next dirt road. This dirt road is very uneven. You will see signs saying that there isn’t snorkeling access and this area is just for surfing and fishing. This will give you the gorgeous view above. Honolua Bay is part of the Honolua-Mokuleʻia Bay Marine Life Conservation District.
The Walk to Honolua Bay
There are two parking lots right off of Route 30. The second one has portapotties. Either path is dirt but fairly flat and not too long. It is the easiest walk you will take today. It is a lovely walk through jungle forests with chickens and flowers all over the place.
The beach at Honolua Bay is rocky but has trees to provide shade. To find the best snorkeling, enter the beach to the right. You will most likely see snorkel boats in the water. The entry to this snorkel is very rocky, and I highly recommend water shoes under your flippers. The water right near shore is very murky. You will need to swim at least out to where the boats are to see clearly. Once there, it is one of the clearest spots on Maui since it is in a protected bay.
On the day we visited, we saw four turtles and humungous schools of fish out near the surf line. It was otherworldly to be in the middle of thousands of fish.
Next, head to the Olivine Pools. Although it is a short hike, it is down lava rocks and can be quite treacherous. The pools are lava tide pools set right above the ocean.
If it isn’t low tide, do not go into them. Many people have died here by being swept into the ocean. Even when the tide seems fairly low, large waves randomly come in, so don’t go near the edges.
A blowhole is a sea cave in which the pressure of waves creates a fenestration between the cave and the surface. When a wave enters, the water sprays forcefully into the air.
Maui’s most famous blowhole is a stop of today’s road trip.
The hike down to the blowhole is longer than the walk to the Olivine Pools and just as treacherous. If you aren’t up to the walk, you can see the blowhole from a distance. Like the Olivine Pools, the waves here can be dangerous if you don’t stay away from the edges and the blowhole.
You can walk along the shore about half a mile to the Nakalele Point Lighthouse if you want. The area is called the Acid War Zone because of the landscape. Because of the saltwater spray, the rocks hang and are uniquely shaped.
Otherwise, you can drive to the lighthouse parking lot.
Nakalele means “the leaning” in Hawaiian.
A lighthouse was placed on Nakalele Point in 1908. It is pretty much just a pole with an automated light—definitely one of the most unique lighthouses that I have seen.
There are wonderful views from the lighthouse.
This flat, white sand beach is also part of the Honolua-Mokuleʻia Bay Marine Life Conservation District. It is a nice place for boogie boarding because it has waves, but they aren’t too big.
Part of the charm of Maui is the miraculous interactions of wind, lava, and water. Dragon’s teeth is my favorite example of this. When the West Maui volcano erupted into the ocean at Makaluapuna Point, the water and wind pushed back. The result is a walk inside the bottom jaw of dragon teeth.
Where to Park for Dragon’s Teeth
Your GPS will take you through the Ritz to a parking lot astride the resort’s golf course. The walkway to Dragon’s Teeth is easy and short, and the views from the teeth are incredible.
End Your Day with Dinner and a View
You will need a reservation for either restaurant.
The Plantation House
I have to be honest that this pricy place doesn’t have the best food I have had in Maui, but the view is unbeatable. The large windows overlook a golf course, forests, and the ocean. It is an ideal view for sunset.
It is very likely that your cell service won’t work for much of this drive. Be sure to preload your maps before you go. The vendors are also willing to direct you at the roadside stands.
Have you tried this road trip? What was your favorite stop?
road to Hana alternative road trip
16 thoughts on “Maui Scenic Drive: A Relaxed Road to Hana Alternative”
I all our travels we have yet to visit Hawaii. We would definitely plan to do a scenic drive in Maui along Route 30. Thanks for the tip about starting early and planning for snorkelling when the tide is low. I love the variety in the stops along the way. I can see why the Nakalele Blowhole is a famous stop on this route. But I would not want to miss that view of the Dragons Teeth.
It is so interesting to see how earth forms such interesting formations and the view of the ocean behind Dragon’s Teeth was incredible.
What a fantastic drive! Dragon’s Teeth is such an incredible natural phenomenon – absolutely awe-inspiring! The Nakalele Blowhole would have me transfixed too.
Having been to Oahu and the Big Island, Maui seems to have different shades of blue in the water. The landscapes look really, green, too! Dragon’s Teeth looks like a really cool attraction, and I’d want to see Nakalele Blowhole too. I’ll have to check out Maui on my next trip to Hawaii!
I need to visit the other islands!
This is a jam-packed itinerary for Maui. Thanks for all the tourist info about how much snacks and drinks will cost, as well as needing cash and being aware of break-ins. All important things to note before setting out for the day. I’d love to see Dragon’s Teeth and the Blowholes! I’m way too wary to go down into the Olivine Pools though, in case the tide comes in too quick.
That is a wise decision.. better safe than sorry.
I loved reading about your experience in Maui. Your descriptions really made it come alive for me. Happy travels!
Only 21 miles but so much to see!! What a great way to spend a day in Maui. I still haven’t been to Hawaii but this definitely seems like an activity that would be right up my alley. Those dragon’s teeth are so cool!
Wow, what an amazing road trip along route 30 in Maui! I took my mom to Maui a few years back and we rented a jeep and drove around. You are right it is a magical island for sure. But I wish I remember what we saw and did because I think we missed most of what you found along route 30! So when we go back we are definitely going to add snorkeling at Honolua Bay & checking out the bizarre looking Nakalene Lighthouse. But I think the highlight would be seeing the Dragon’s Teeth in person. Nature is so cool!
What a fun trip to take with your mom!
Wow, the Nakalele Blowhole and Dragon’s Teeth sounds incredible! I haven’t been to Maui yet, but I would love to visit and take this Route 30 road trip.
This looks like a great route and itinerary. I so appreciate the cautions and safety tips!
Hawaii is so beautiful! Thanks for taking me along on this relaxed road trip with your scenic shots and well-written words!
Oh, would love to take such a relaxing road trip along the coast of Maui. I’m so envious. 🙂
Nakalele Blowhole sounds like something I’d pick to visit. And of course, the best way to end such a day is with dinner and a view, so true! 🙂