Hawaii February 18, 2018
The 9 Most Terrifying Drives You Can Possibly Take In Hawaii
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 scenic road
— many with gorgeous windshield views. While some of these drives are well-populated highways, others are a bit more… dangerous, to say the least. Whether due to steep elevation grades or crazy hairpin turns, here are the 9 most exhilarating (or terrifying) drives found across the Hawaiian Islands.
1. Mauna Kea Access Road
The Mauna Kea Access Road takes you on an unforgettable — and potentially nerve-wracking — journey to more than 13,700 feet above sea level. It is not only the highest road in the Aloha State, but one of the highest paved roads in the world as well. The eight-mile road to the summit from the visitor’s center requires that you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, but the expansive views from above the clouds are well worth the effort it takes to get here. Did we mention that only three miles of the eight-mile road are actually paved?
2. Kahekili Highway
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 than 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 of heart.
3. Waimea Canyon Drive
Nearly 14 miles long, one mile wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep, the stunning Waimea Canyon is full of striking cliffs, incredible colors, and cascading waterfalls; it is perhaps Hawaii’s most unspoiled natural beauty. And the road into the park is certainly incredible as well, wouldn’t you agree? While pretty, my stomach is knots just thinking about the steep inclines and winding road.
4. Kalanianaole Highway
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 — and exhilarating or terrifying — drive when done on a motorcycle.
5. Hana Highway
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, making for one drive you might want to skip if you get car sick.
6. Saddle Road
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.
7. Round Top Drive
Once you turn onto Round Top Drive, which connects with Tantalus Drive, you will be met with driveways at impossibly steep inclines, hairpin turns, blind corners, sheer drops into rainforest valleys, and views of the city that cannot be beat. This two-lane, ten-mile loop is one of my personal favorite drives, and one of the best places to get away from the stress of daily life for just an hour.
8. Unnamed Hamakua Coast Scenic Drive
This narrow road on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island is four miles of heaven — but it is also rather dangerous, so be careful, drive slowly, and definitely don’t do the drive if it’s pouring.
9. Haleakala Highway
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.
How many of these incredible — and terrifying — drives have you driven? Which one of them is your favorite? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!