Top Hawaii Road Trips

There is plenty of parking space for visitors at Oahu’s Halona Blowhole lookout.
There is plenty of parking space for visitors at Oahu’s Halona Blowhole lookout.

From the road to Hana on Maui to the Hamakua Heritage Corridor on Hawaii Island, Travel Agent samples some of the best road trips for clients looking to take a scenic drive during their Hawaii holiday.

Hawaii Island

Heritage Corridors: Named after Kamehameha the Great’s “Law of the Splintered Paddle,” Mamalahoa Kona Heritage Corridor follows an ancient footpath that granted runners safe passage for hundreds of years. Today, the 10-mile route is infused with stories of old and new Hawaii, interwoven with the immigrant influences of Europe, Asia and the Americas that shaped the Kona of today. Although this byway is a mere two lanes wide, its pleasures are abundant, including historic architecture, shrines, coffee farms, art galleries and quaint Holualoa Village. This scenic byway winds its way along the slopes of Hualalai Mountain and offers scenic vistas of Kailua-Kona and the Pacific.

The island’s Hamakua Heritage Corridor affords a memorable day trip along the Hamakua Coast and drive along sea cliffs, through lush valleys and tropical rain forests. The drive begins in Hilo and ends at the Waipio Valley Lookout. Along the way there are old plantation towns, amazing waterfalls and scenic detours.

Kau Scenic Byway: This 54-mile route runs through the southernmost point of the United States and offers the longest stretches of unspoiled, spectacular, natural scenery to be found in the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Highlights include striking views from Honuapo Overlook, napping sea turtles at Punaluu Black Sand Beach, the 1,000-year-old Kula Kai Caverns and sweeping vistas of majestic lava fields as they unfold into the deep blue Pacific Ocean.

The Kau Scenic Byway travels along Highway 11 (also known as the Hawaii Belt Road) around the base of Mauna Loa, connecting the Historic Kona Town to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

On a drive along Hawaii Island’s Kau Scenic Byway, one may spot sea turtles on Punaluu Black Sand Beach.
On a drive along Hawaii Island’s Kau Scenic Byway, one may spot sea turtles on Punaluu Black Sand Beach.


The Road to Hana: The Hana Highway (Hawaii Routes 36 and 360, from Kahului to Hana) has 620 curves and 59 bridges. The road leads through flourishing rain forests, flowing waterfalls, plunging pools and dramatic seascapes. There are an abundance of opportunities to stop and enjoy the lovely views, so get an early start and take your time on the drive.

In Kahului, home of Maui’s main airport, visitors can pretty much rent whatever size and style of vehicle suits their needs from several major companies. Enterprise, for example, offers Jeeps, convertibles, SUVs, minivans and luxury cars, among others.


Holo Holo Koloa: In Hawaiian, “holo holo” means to go for a drive or a ride, so if your travels take you on the 19.5-mile Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway, you know it was meant to be. This story begins on the Maluhia Road with a passage through a tree tunnel that leads to the old sugar plantation town of Koloa, and even further back into time to a recently discovered ancient Hawaiian village named Kaneiolouma Heiau.

Clients will also discover salt ponds, world-class Poipu Beach, a sacred hula mound named Pau a Laka, and National Tropical Botanical Garden with the largest collection of endangered plant species in the world, as well as many other historically significant sites. The Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway begins on State Highway 520 and runs through historic Old Koloa Town to the sunny Poipu.


Halona/Southeast Coast: This route winds along sea cliffs and rock layers that take on many different colors and formations. Points of interest along the way include Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Koko Head Regional Park, Halona Point and Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach, and Makapuu Point. From Makapuu, visitors can see Rabbit Island and Turtle Island, and, on a clear day, the island of Maui can be spotted along the horizon.

Up-country Waimanalo: For a glimpse of rural Oahu, drive down Kalanianaole Highway through the small town of Waimanalo with its dozens of farms, ranches and nurseries that raise local vegetables, fruits and flowers.  Visitors can catch a rodeo at New Town and Country Stables, watch a game of polo at the Waimanalo Polo Grounds, play a round of golf at Luana Hills Country Club, or simply relax on the white sand at Waimanalo Beach.

Old Koloa Town is a popular stop on Kauai’s Holo Holo Koloa route.
Old Koloa Town is a popular stop on Kauai’s Holo Holo Koloa route.

Pali Highway: From Honolulu, take the Pali Highway and head to the lush Windward side of Oahu. Along the way, stop at Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, foreign consulates, Royal Mausoleum Hsu Yum Temple, Tenri Cultural Center, and Oahu Cemetery. Further up the road is Nuuanu Pali Lookout with its gorgeous views of the Windward coast and the rugged cliffs of the Koolau mountain range. From the Pali Highway, visitors can drive to Kaneohe Bay, home of the historic Heeia Fishpond, and Kailua town for shopping, water sports and nature tours.

Windward Oahu: On Kahekili Highway, stop off at the Valley of the Temples and see Byodo-In, a replica of a famous ancient temple in Japan. Further down the road is Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens, which visitors can tour in a rickshaw. Continue on Kahekili, which becomes Kamehameha Highway, to Kualoa Ranch where many blockbuster movies and popular TV shows have been filmed, including “Jurassic Park” and “Lost.” Clients may also tour the expansive property on horseback, or by ATV or jungle expedition.

Tour Operator Deals

Agents with clients looking to spend some time on the road during their visit to the Aloha State should look into Classic Vacations’ “Triple Upgrade” promotion in partnership with Alamo Rent A Car. As part of the deal, clients can book a full-size vehicle for the price of a compact or they can book a convertible for the price of a full-size vehicle. The booking window is from November 1 through February 28 for travel from January 1 through December 16, 2017.

Pleasant Holidays is offering an exclusive $100 savings on air-inclusive Hawaii vacations. Travelers can use the savings to rent a Hertz economy car or apply it toward upgrading their car rental to a convertible or luxury class vehicle. It can also be used to book tours and activities at its sister brand, Pleasant Activities. This promotion is valid for new bookings made by October 31 for select travel through June 30, 2017. Savings are per booking and taken at time of booking. Certain restrictions and blackout dates apply.